(Above: Looking toward the rear of the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd Institute for the Arts; all seats in the newly reconstructed main floor concert space and balcony have unobstructed views; photo courtesy of The Shedd)
By Randi Bjornstad
The first show in the upgraded Jaqua Concert Hall happens on Thursday, Nov. 2, when the Emerald City Jazz Kings open their in-town 2017-18 season with an evening show titled, “Keep Your Sunny Side Up.” The performance will be repeated at a matinee show on Sunday, Nov. 5.
It’s been a race to the finish for Shedd executive director Jim Ralph and the construction crews that have spent three months reconfiguring the space in the downtown historic building that once housed the First Baptist Church.
The multi-million dollar project included tearing out the old, uncomfortable and hard-to-see-from balcony and installing huge crossbeams to hold the new graduated balcony rows. That project also succeeded in allowing the removal of 10 substantial pillars on the main floor of the hall that obstructed views from significant numbers of downstairs seats.
The Emerald Jazz Kings, under the direction of Jesse Cloninger, produce four original concerts each year that trace musical themes from the 1920s through the ’50s. Each show is performed in Florence and Corvallis as well as in Eugene at The Shedd.
“Keep Your Sunny Side Up” celebrates the songs of Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, who specialized in creating numbers for Jazz Age musical comedy.
Together between 1925 and 1930, they produced still-hummed songs such as “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “You’re the Cream in My Coffee,” “The Best Things in Life are Free” and “Sunny Side Up.”
Singly or with other partners, the three also were prolific, responsible for tunes that include “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and “Look for the Silver Lining.”
The remainder of the Jazz Kings’ season includes:
- Dec. 6-13 — An Old-Fashioned Christmas
- Feb. 1-22 — Bing Crosby & the Classic Songbook
- May 4-13 — You Asked for It (includes audience suggestions)
An earlier story about the improvements at The Shedd detailed many of the improvements concertgoers can expect with The Shedd’s improvements in addition to its 294 new, modern balcony seats: removal of the slope of the main floor to accommodate traditional concert seating as well as more cabaret-style tables and chairs; better heating and coolings system; up-to-date sound and lighting; and a built-in telecoil induction loop system with assisted-listening devices to benefit hard-of-hearing patrons.
Other renovations include better accessibility for disabled people; new, larger restrooms; improved community spaces for pre-concert meals and smaller performances; and improvements to The Shedd’s office spaces and its Community Music School classrooms.
All of the changes are part of a six-year package of improvements that will total $13 million. Much of the cost will be paid through donations and grants. A capital campaign is underway.
Keep Your Sunny Side Up
What: The Emerald City Jazz Kings’ opening show of the 2017-18 season
When: 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 and 3 p.m. on Nov. 5
Where: Jaqua Concert Hall, The Shedd Institute for the Arts, 868 High St., Eugene
Admission: $22 to $36 (some free tickets available for students), online at theshedd.org/ or at the ticket office, 541-434-7000; pre-evening and post-matinee meals available by advance reservation