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Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers

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Featuring Grammy-nominated pianist, Kevin Bales

Chicago Vocalist, Keri Johnsrud

Drummer, Marlon Patton

Bassist, Billy Thornton

Grammy-winning Saxophonist, Mace Hibbard

Guitarist, Trey Wright

And many special guests from our musical neighborhood

Fred McFeely Rogers – the cardigan-wearing, sneaker-shod, quintessentially gentle Presbyterian

minister known as Mister Rogers on the award-winning children’s TV show that aired for nearly 35

years – also wrote the songs he sang on his program. He wrote a lot of songs, and he wrote them

well. As a kid, you might not have noticed the craftsmanship of these songs but as an adult, you

can’t miss it. These songs left their mark on three generations of children who made Mister Roger’s

Neighborhood part of their after-school routine.

The songs, which up until now were specifically tailored for his children’s show, are now presented

as reinvented gems that are wise and wistful, simple but not simplistic, and even, in some cases, a

bit sultry. In this concert, Mister Rogers’ songs not only relate to adults; they seem to have been

written for adults in the first place.

Kevin Bales 

By some measures, Kevin Bales was a latecomer to jazz, already 17 when he encountered the

sounds and structures and became captivated by the freedom and corresponding challenges of the

music. But if late to the party, he wasted no time in immersing himself in the celebration, declaring

total commitment to what would be his life’s work and backing his announcement by resigning his

job and designated career in computer programming.

Kevin could commit to jazz with a reasonable degree of expectation. He was already an

accomplished pianist, with classical chops refined since the age of 10. So accomplished he was

invited to audition for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, then under the direction of its most storied

conductor Robert Shaw, at age 16. Kevin’s initial career move was to the University of North Florida

and a budding if little-known jazz program.

There he met and performed with, and went on to record and tour with, a number of monumental

artists who had settled into that burgeoning North Florida jazz scene. Giants like Wynton Marsalis,

Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, Ben Tucker, Ira Sullivan, Sam Rivers, and Nat

Adderley. He counts among his mentors bassist Ben Tucker, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, guitar

legends Nathen Page and Jack Petersen, and the fiercely individual saxophonist Bunky Green. His

meeting with Bunky Green led to five years of tours. His encounter with guitarist Nathen Page

blossomed into 15 years of spot tours and four albums. And his work with trumpeter extraordinaire

Marcus Printup has become a lifetime association that has included recordings on Blue Note/Capital

records. Ten years touring and recording with vocal iconoclast Rene Marie culminated in the a

Grammy Nominated album.

Few artists have the patience for teaching – as are few teachers accomplished players. But Kevin

has amassed a reputation for his prowess in both professions. While still a senior at North Florida he

was drafted into a full teaching load, and continued to be an integral part of the school’s jazz

program for upwards of a decade. Today, Kevin manages his own jazz program, overseeing an

ambitious schedule of ambitious jazz students.

Kevin has amassed a long list of awards and a reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists

performing anywhere. In 1994, less than a decade into jazz, he won the American Pianist

Association’s Jazz Piano Competition. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South,

he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the

world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and

Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the

Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.


Reservations for the Captain’s Room (private dining room) can be reserved for parties of 12-24 guests. For more info contact info@venkmans.com. 
Purchasing a General Admission ticket does not guarantee a seat/table.

Additional reservations are not required if a table, booth or banquette have been purchased via Big Tickets. 

Bar area and patio seating is reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis.