418 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, United States

(618) 457-5353

A historic visual and performing arts venue in downtown Carbondale, IL.

LIVE MUSIC

Classical Guitar: Christopher Allen

Christopher Allen performs Nov. 16 at The Varsity.

7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16
$14 adv / $16 at the door
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free

The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series continues at the Varsity. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

Second up in the series is Christopher Allen on Nov. 16. Allen’s playing is described as “powerful but sublime, a step away from explosive, a power to be reckoned with.” He plays classical guitar, Flamenco guitar, medieval and Baroque lute, jazz guitar, country mandolin, and the Oud (an ancient Moorish pre-guitar). 


Allen’s undergraduate and master degrees are from SIU, where he studied under Joseph Breznikar, professor of guitar studies for many years at the university. Allen then studied with Rene Esquierdo at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a doctorate in guitar performance. Post-graduate master classes included those with Carlos Barbosa-Lime, Ben Verdeny, Ana Vidovic and other great teaching concert artists. 


Allen brings a visible enthusiasm for his chosen instruments, particularly his love of classical guitar, which shines through in his exciting performances. His colorful stories add to each program an element of information that lets the listener into the nuances of the piece, the composer or the artistic experience. Chris founded and is president of the Madison Classical Guitar Society in Madison, Wisconsin, where he also teaches at Madison College and the Monroe Street Arts School. 


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30.

 

Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge.


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of the performance.

New Arts Jazztet Christmas Show

Jimmy Beers, Dick Kelley, Phil Brown, Bob Allison and Isaac Lausell.

7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2
$10
Doors and Vars
ity Bar at 6
 

The New Arts Jazztet will present “The New Arts Jazztet Does Christmas” at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, in the Balcony. This performance is the group’s first-ever Christmas show, as well as its annual fall concert.


The show will be the NAJ’s third performance in the renovated Balcony at The Varsity and will feature jazz vocal sensation Eden Atwood. Members of the group say they are eager to play again, especially a Christmas concert, in the historic venue’s Balcony space, which many now consider the premier listening space in Southern Illinois.


The New Arts Jazztet was formed in 1984 among several Southern Illinois University School of Music faculty and has been in residence at the school ever since. Current NAJ members are Dick Kelley, reeds; Bob Allison, trumpet; Isaac Lausell, guitar; Phil Brown, bass; and Jimmy Beers, drums.


Long regarded as Southern Illinois' foremost jazz group, the NAJ performs two formal concerts each year: a spring concert that traditionally features new original compositions, and a fall concert that comprises transcriptions or new arrangements of jazz standards. 


Memphis-born, Montana-raised Eden Atwood began singing on stages at the age of three, and has been singing ever since. As a young professional, she relocated to Chicago and was soon headlining the city’s legendary Gold Star Sardine Bar, a gig she held for eight years. In 1993, Atwood was signed by Concord Records, becoming the youngest artist on its roster. Her four recordings on that jazz label all enjoyed critical praise.


JazzTimes called Atwood “one of the most under-sung heroes of modern jazz singing.” She has performed all over the world sharing bills with jazz luminaries such as Gene Harris, Joshua Redman, and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band, and has been featured on NPR's Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland. She has made eight other recordings since her debut, and continues to perform as time and opportunity allow. 


“The New Arts Jazztet Does Christmas” program will feature 11 seasonal selections – a few time-honored traditional songs and several familiar popular tunes – in the inimitable NAJ style. There will also be a few wonderful but less well-known numbers, as well as an original, “Visions of Christmas,” by Phil Brown. And there could be a surprise or two. Atwood will lend her considerable vocal talents to more than half of the selections. As always, concertgoers can expect a dynamic performance encompassing a wide variety of jazz styles.


Tickets are $10 and are available in advance at Eventbrite (see link). They are not available in advance at the venue but will be available for purchase on the night of the concert when doors open.

9th Annual Blue Christmas

Ivas John performs at the annual Blue Christmas Show at the Varsity in December 2018.

7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14
$18
Doors and Varsity Bar at 6

   

A roster of top-notch musicians is returning to The Varsity for Ivas John’s 9th Annual Blue Christmas show. The Dec. 14 show is a holiday concert celebrating the music of Southern Illinois.


Proceeds will benefit the Carbondale Park District. First Southern Bank is the presenting the show; Team Payne CPA is a supporting sponsor.


Musicians taking the stage in the Big Room at the downtown venue include the Ivas John Band with Robbie Stokes, the Gordons, Miss Jenny and the Howdy Boys, Robert Bowlin & Wil Maring, Hugh DeNeal, The Jewels, and the Free Range Chicks. Other musicians will likely be taking the stage at some point.


Tickets are $18 and are available in advance in three places: Eventbrite (see link); Plaza Records at 816 E. Main St. in Carbondale; and the Life Community Center, 2500 W. Sunset in Carbondale. They are not available in advance at the venue but will be available at the door on the night of the event.


For more information, call (618) 549-4222. 

Classical Guitar: Hector Torres

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7 p.m. Saturday, March 7
$14 adv / $16 at the door
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free


The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series continues at the Varsity. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

Third in the series is Hector Alonso Torres, guitarist, lutenist and Theorbo player who will perform on March 7. 


Hailing from Puerto Rica and now completing his doctoral studies in performance guitar at the University of North Texas, Denton, Hector’s musical presentation is a complex mix of island rhythms, Spanish sounds and the contrapuntal music of the Baroque, of which he is a master interpreter. Multi-talented when it comes to the variety of guitar and guitar like instruments, Hector plays classical guitar, medieval lute and the Theorbo (a lute like instrument with a 5-foot-long fingerboard and five octaves). 


Hector has performed around the world, including a recent tour of China playing both as a soloist and with his trio, the Trio Resonance. He also teaches, and performs at festivals around the world. He has received many top prizes in guitar competitions both in the U.S. and abroad. He is president of the North Texas Guitar Consortium. 


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30. 


Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge. 


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of each performance.

Classical Guitar: Kirk Hanser

Kirk Hanser performs at The Varsity April 4.

7 p.m. Saturday, April 4
$14 adv / $16 at the door
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free


The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series offers its last performance of the season. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

Kirk Hanser will take the stage on April 4. Hanser is one of the world’s most versatile guitar players, excelling in virtually every type and style of guitar. He is most known for his classical solo concerts, his duet pieces as a part of the Hanser-McCellan Duo, and for his fingerstyle interpretations in the style and technique of Chet Atkins. 


Hanser will present a multi-media music and visual program that will transport the listener around the world. And the award-winning youth classical guitar ensemble, Bella Corda, instructed by Kirk, will perform the pre-show for the event.


Hanser is the on-call guitarist for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the MUNY and the St. Louis Opera. He also is on the faculty at several colleges and universities, including the Paris Conservatory in Paris, France. He is director of the St. Louis Guitar Academy and the Childbloom Guitar Program for St. Louis, in addition to his very active concert and gig calendar in the Midwest and internationally.


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30. 


Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge.


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of each performance.