Southern Soul and Song announces grand finale season

 Tickets go on sale Aug. 1 for the final season of the Morris Museum of Art’s Southern Soul and Song series.

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In its 21st year, the series will end on a high note, according to Kevin Grogan, the museum’s director and curator.

“This promises to be a really wonderful year,” he said. “It’s always been my habit to have three performers people wanted to hear again and introduce three new acts.”

This year breaks that mold with a lineup filled with returning acts.

The season opens with Del McCoury & Friends, including the Travelin’ McCourys, the Gibson Brothers, Kenny and Amanda Smith, and Dré Anders on Sept. 8; the Sam Bush Band plays Oct. 13; Della Mae will be in concert Nov. 10; Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Christmas will be Dec. 13; the Appalachian Roadshow and the Cleverlys will be on Jan. 12, 2024; and the final curtain falls after Rhonda Vincent and the Rage Feb. 9, 2024.

Grogan said the series has brought some great concerts over the years.

“We’ve had some odd ones but not any bad ones,” he said.

The Ricky Skaggs’ October 2003 concert which kicked off the series was one Grogan will never forget.

Rhonda Vincent has performed as part of Southern Soul and Song multiple times. She will be part of the finale season. Photo courtesy Vincent’s official Facebook page.

“It was one of the most exciting live musical presentations,” he said. “It was a sensational show with 45 minutes of encores. Everyone was on their feet for the entire encore.”

Grogan has seen many concerts in his lifetime including Benny Goodman when Grogan was only 5. His top concert was seeing Mstislav Rostropovich playing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with the National Symphony not long after he defected from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, but Skaggs’ concert comes in second.

As for the series, Grogan said it’s an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.

“The economics simply don’t work anymore,” he said. “That’s the hard truth of it.”

Sponsorships are vital to such a concert series. One sponsor, which initially paid for the costs associated with four of the concerts, has had to cutback over the years. The Imperial Theatre doesn’t have enough seats in the house to support the series through ticket sales alone, he said.         

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Skaggs will also be performing in nearby Newberry, S.C. this season.

Grogan said the Newberry Opera House receives support from the city, but even with that, tickets for the Newberry event are $95 — a price that Grogan doesn’t want to charge Augusta audiences.

“This is something we do for the community more or less like a gift,” he said. “It’s consistent in our mission to serve the interests in promoting the culture of the South.”

That doesn’t mean that the museum won’t have other musical acts, but it just won’t be to the scale of the Southern Soul and Song series, he said.

 “It’s been a good time,” he said.

Season ticket holders can purchase tickets for six shows for the price of five. Morris Museum of Art members receive a 10% discount. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Imperial Theatre. For tickets, go here.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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