If it’s October at the Birchmere, it’s time for another Raven’s Night, the wide-ranging annual show produced by Belladonna and Ken Vegas. Named in homage to Baltimore’s master of macabre Edgar Allan Poe, this year’s spectacle on Oct. 16 includes the usual motley crew of performers working around the theme of “Coven” — think witches, wizards, maidens, and healers. Yet the extravaganza is not just a magical and mystical cabaret and concert, but also an extra-special 10-Year Anniversary Show.
Another multi-genre evening scheduled in October at “America’s Legendary Music Hall” will be led by a certain retired Prairie Home Companion host, who will reprise that former hit public radio program’s format, blending stand-up, storytelling, audience interactive skits, and musical performances. The one-off “Garrison Keillor Tonight,” featuring Four Bitchin’ Babes singer-songwriter Debi Smith, is Oct. 20.
Folk legend Judy Collins returns with the duo The Imaginaries on Oct. 17. Other October musical highlights include an Oct. 6 concert by Gaelic Storm, the California-based Celtic rock band who went down with the ship in James Cameron’s Titanic, which effectively launched their career; and an Oct. 8 concert with even smoother sailing, when soft-rock captain Christopher Cross comes to port to toast the more than 40 years since he set sail with “Sailing” and “Ride Like the Wind.”
Additionally, there are two concerts that the Birchmere will present at larger venues around the region, helping spread the musical wealth, including an Oct. 13 show at the Music Center at Strathmore featuring legendary pop producer and pianist David Foster, who will be joined on the pandemic-delayed Hitman Tour by a coterie of featured vocalists, among them Pia Toscano and Fernando Verala. Also featured is Loren Allred, the vocalist behind the powerhouse anthem “Never Enough” from the movie musical The Greatest Showman.
Two weeks later comes The Lantern Tour, an annual event organized by Emmylou Harris that couldn’t be more critically timely given it’s a fundraiser for migrant and refugee families served by the Women’s Refugee Commission. Joining Harris and Steve Earle this year as performers in support of the cause is Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Amy Helm, Gaby Moreno, and Thao (of the Get Down Stay Down), all appearing Oct. 28 at the new Capital One Hall in Tysons.
Patty Griffin and Gordon Lightfoot will also appear for shows that have already sold out. Tickets still remain, however, for other returning acts, ranging from melodic pop-rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket on Oct. 4-5, to jazz saxophonist and producer Boney James on Oct. 18-19, to “Rock Steady” dance/R&B group The Whispers on Oct. 22-23, and last but not least, the stalwart California country-rock outfit the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Oct. 29.
The Birchmere is at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. All shows start at 7:30 p.m., and are only open to those who can show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within the past 72 hours. Ticket prices vary. Call 703-549-7500 or visit www.birchmere.com.
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