Soft rock, jazz comes to Sumter Opera House

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 10/2/18

A band that has been popular since 1970 and another that's not quite a year old will play the Sumter Opera House this week. Ambrosia, a soft rock band with five Grammy nominations and several Gold records, appears at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and Gullah …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Soft rock, jazz comes to Sumter Opera House

Posted

A band that has been popular since 1970 and another that's not quite a year old will play the Sumter Opera House this week. Ambrosia, a soft rock band with five Grammy nominations and several Gold records, appears at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and Gullah jazz band Ranky Tanky plays Friday, also at 7:30.

Sumter Opera House manager Seth Reimer said Ambrosia's concert will be "an instant feel-good show " (offering) the chance for longtime fans to revisit the time "when they were part of the throngs filling sold-out venues and for younger fans to hear a band certain to become a favorite."

Formed by four musicians from Los Angeles, the band was influenced by all types of music from around the world and known for a strong rhythm-and-blues and blues base. The name Ambrosia was adopted because its music was a blend of genres, much as the ambrosia salad brings several fruits and other ingredients together in a harmonious manner.

Ambrosia collaborated with musicians Leonard Bernstein and Alan Parsons, as well as author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., receiving five Grammy nominations, five hit singles and performed sold-out concerts worldwide. Early hits include "Holdin' on to Yesterday," "Can't Let a Woman" and "Biggest Part of Me."

The current band comprises original members Joe Puerta, Burleigh Drummond and Chris North, with later members Doug Jackson, Mary Harris and Ken Stacey for a full sound that will fill the acoustically superb Sumter Opera House on Thursday night.

Ranky Tanky comprises five musicians based in Charleston, four of whom - Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Clay Roses and Charlton Singleton - are veterans of the Holy City's jazz quartet The Gradual Lean, popular in the late 1990s. Quiana Parler is vocalist. Although Ranky Tanky began performing in 2017, this month marks the one-year anniversary of their eponymous CD's debut release; it was ranked No. 1 on Billboard's jazz chart in February.

Ranky Tanky's music is largely influenced by traditional Gullah music, which the group infuses with its own jazz influences. Gullah culture arose in the Lowcountry among enslaved Africans and their descendants. Traditional spirituals, dance music and children's rhymes represent a large portion of the band's music. The band has incorporated modern instruments such as guitar and trumpet to the traditionally a cappella Gullah sound with only body percussion accompaniment.

Appearing with Ranky Tanky is the New York-based jazz band The Huntertones, whose music has been described as "fun, imaginative and fearless." The group has performed around the world and has released two CDs, Passport and Huntertones. They've appeared with many top artists in jazz, pop, soul and musical theater, among them Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder, Gary Clark Jr. and Snarky Puppy.

Ambrosia will be at the Sumter Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Thursday; tickets are $35-$40. See Ranky Tanky there at 7:30 p.m. Friday; tickets are $20 / $25 /$28. Buy tickets by phone at (803) 436-2616 or online at www.sumteroperahouse.com.

The Sumter Opera House is located at 21 N. Main St. in downtown Sumter. Ample free parking is available.