With the beginning of the fall semester at West Kentucky Community and Technical College also comes the start of a new season at the Clemens Fine Arts Center.
"I'm really excited about everything, of course, but I do have some favorites that we'll be presenting this season," said Todd Birdsong, the center's executive director.
Birdsong has been trying to diversify his bookings at the performing arts center, hitting varied swaths of the community among music, fine arts, comedy and drama.
One of the newest programs at the center this season is the Featured Artist of the Season. This year it's musician Richard Shindell, who will perform Oct. 11.
"The featured artist is an opportunity to feature, for lack of a better word, to showcase and to expose, the arts community of Paducah to different artists that they wouldn't normally see," Birdsong explained. "It could be an actor performing a one-act show or performance art or an electronic artist.
"Richard is a fantastic singer/songwriter. He lives in Argentina, but he sings and plays at a lot of folk festivals up and down the coasts. It's a rare treat to get an artist like him. He usually doesn't get this far inland."
Some of Birdsong's other favorites on the slate are Catapult, a team of dancers previously highlighted on "America's Got Talent" who invoke shadowplay in their act; The Passing Zone, a unique juggling group throwback to vaudeville-type entertainment; and Aoife O'Donovan, an Irish-American folk singer and songwriter.
The Arts In Focus series brings renowned artists to the stage. Events this season will include:
• Steep Canyon Rangers, a genre-bending bluegrass and folk band, will perform Aug. 23.
• Catapult will take place on Sept. 30.
• Ranky Tanky, a group of Gullah musicians out of South Carolina, take the stage on Feb. 8.
• The Passing Zone comes to town on March 27.
• Aoife O'Donovan is scheduled to play on April 17.
The center's Backstage Pass series presents "intimate listening room"-style concerts with local and regional singer/songwriters.
This year's series include:
• Daniel Neihoff, Sept. 14.
• Nathan Blake Lynn, Nov. 23.
• Dale & Co., Feb. 22, 2020.
• Fate McAfee, March 14, 2020.
On the other end of the spectrum is the venue's Exposure series, which incorporates interdisciplinary art and discussions, including:
• Blurring Art & Life: An Evening of Fluxus, Oct. 19.
• The Expanded Cinema of Kristen Reeves, Nov. 9.
• Socialism, Capitalism and Modern Democracy, a panel discussion on Feb. 29.
The Air National Guard Concert Band will also be appearing at the venue Jan. 18 for a free concert celebrating American heritage.
To learn more about this season's programming at the Clemens Fine Arts Center, visit westkentucky.kctcs.edu/community/arts-in-focus/index.aspx.