HillBenders to present bluegrass version of ‘Tommy’ on Sept. 7

The HillBenders

WCU Presents, the performance series at Western Carolina University’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, opens its 2017-18 season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, with The HillBenders, a bluegrass group from Springfield, Missouri, presenting “The Who’s Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry.”

The 75-minute show will cover The Who’s original album “Tommy” from start to finish with audience participation. The opening act will be the Jackson County Junior Appalachian Musicians.

Nearly 45 years after its original release, The Who’s classic rock opera now been fully realized as a full-length bluegrass tribute. Conceived and produced by SXSW co-founder and longtime musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers, the “Bluegrass Opry” brings a new perspective to “Tommy” while paying respect to its creators.

Originally composed by guitarist Pete Townshend, the album has sold 20 million copies and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant value.” In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Tommy” at No. 96 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Jackson County JAM is an after-school program for children in grades four through eight, and beyond, that introduces children to music through small-group instruction on instruments common to the Appalachian region such as fiddle, banjo and guitar.

Tickets for the Sept. 7 show are $25 for the general public; $20 for WCU faculty and staff, and seniors; and $15 for groups of 20 or more. For tickets and more information, visit bardoartscenter.wcu.edu or call 828-227-ARTS.