Bluegrass tribute of The Who’s, ‘Tommy’ WCU Bardo Arts Center Sept. 7, 7:30PM

WCU Bardo Arts Center | Cullowhee, NC | September 7 at 7:30PM

The 2017-2018 WCU PRESENTS Performance Series* opens on Thursday, September 7 at 7:30PM with The HillBenders, a bluegrass group from Springfield Missouri who will perform, “The Who’s, Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry”. The live performance is a full 75 minute show covering the original album from start to finish with audience participation. Opening act provided by the Jackson County Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM).

Nearly 45 years after its original release, this classic of classic rock has now been fully realized as a full-length bluegrass tribute featuring Springfield, Missouri’s The HillBenders. Conceived and produced by SXSW co-founder and longtime musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers, this Bluegrass Opry brings a new perspective to Tommy while paying total respect to its creators.

Originally composed by guitarist Pete Townshend as a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy, including his experiences with life and the relationship with his family. The original 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 number 96 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Meyers had been looking for the right band to pull off this high wire bluegrass approach for several decades and The HillBenders are the right band. With a perfect mix of virtuoso musicianship and rock star vocals, The HillBenders bring Pete Townshend’s original vision to life in a new and exciting way. It is an experience to hear banjo, dobro, mandolin, bass, and guitar bring the same energy and vision to Tommy as The Who did with a full rock band and orchestra.

The HillBenders are one of the few bluegrass groups that recognize their ability to bridge the gap between the common music consumer and the bluegrass genre, selecting material that defies any hillbilly stigmas. With their widely varied influences, they are trying to bring to bluegrass songs that unify. “We wanted to pair bluegrass with the other music we grew up with —rock and roll!” says HillBender Nolan Lawrence.

Jackson County JAM is an after-school program for children in grades 4 – 8 and beyond that introduces music through small group instruction on instruments common to the Appalachian region, such as fiddle, banjo and guitar. Each JAM program across the Appalachian region is individually operated and funded.

*The WCU PRESENTS Performance Series was previously known as Galaxy of Stars.

Tickets are $25 for the general public. For tickets and further information, please visit or call 828.227.ARTS. Bardo Arts Center is home to a 1,000-seat theatre performance hall and the WCU Fine Art Museum, which features year-round modern and contemporary art exhibitions. Bardo Arts Center is located at 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28783.

Image Credits: Photo Courtesy of The HillBenders