Owner Tom Burkett and workers are racing the clock determined to have their building ready for Friday’s opening of Songbird Live, Cleburne’s newest musical venue.
Billed as “just you, the artist and the music,” Songbird Live — 210 E. Henderson St. in downtown — will soon bring a variety of musical styles and professional musicians to Cleburne. Tickets, $15, are available at the venue’s box office from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Burkett, who also owns Action Signs across the street from Songbird, modeled Songbird on Cleburne’s Plaza Theatre Co. and Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players in that musicians playing Songbird will perform Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for two or three weeks as opposed to playing one show then moving on to the next town.
That and the venue’s intimate setting —Songbird will seat about 100 — should engender performer/audience interaction and fun, Burkett said. The idea is for performers to perform and discuss their music and interact with the audience in a relaxed, comfy setting, Burkett said.
Several residents, including Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain, have already expressed excitement and interest in Cleburne’s newest entertainment option.
“That’s music to my ears!” Cain wrote on his Facebook page. “So who’s planning on going to some concerts at Songbird? I know I am.”
Several responded that they, too, look forward to upcoming shows with one woman asking if the venue is going to be kid and family friendly. It will, Burkett said.
Several have already inquired about hosting private events, Burkett said.
Songbird should also help other downtown businesses such as restaurants and Plaza Theatre, Burkett said.
For now, the Songbird will offer a concession stand with no immediate plans to serve food or alcohol.
Classical guitarist Phillipe Bertaud opens the Songbird with concerts scheduled Nov. 1-2, 7-9 and 14-16. Bertaud’s, and all shows, begin at 7:30 p.m.
Dubbed “the new lord of the strings,” by the Los Angeles Times, and a player gifted by “a percussive brand of guitarist wizardry,” according to Jazziz Magazine, Bertaud performs a mix of French, Brazilian, flamenco and regular classical guitar, Burkett said.
Up next, the weekends before and after Thanksgiving, is the Randy and Deborah Lee Quintet.
Lee, who plays saxophone among other instruments, won outstanding soloist at Paschal High School in 1968, Burkett said, and went on to be named first tenor in the One O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas.
“That’s unheard of as a freshman,” Burkett said. “Of course he walked right into a professional career after that and he’s one of the top call woodwind jazz soloists, made hundreds of recordings and backed bands like the Temptations and others when they come through town.”
Lee used to play Fort Worth’s famed Bluebird Club in Como, live coverage of which was broadcast on KCLE for several years, Burkett said.
The Lees will perform jazz standards and selections from the Great American Songbook, Burkett said.
Upcoming shows include Hando Nakhur, a former Van Cliburn competition contestant, who will deliver a Christmas show the first three weeks of December and Melani Skybell, a jazz chanteuse somewhat in the style of Diana Krall.
John Allen brings Bone To Pick with trombone and guitar to Songbird’s stage in January.
“He’s more classical oriented, but also plays some Beatles songs and things like that,” Burkett said. “We were in the same band for five years and there’s no trombone player I’d rather hear than John. He’s just amazingly perfect, so much soul.”
Western swing hits Songbird in May courtesy of Miss Devon & the Outlaw consisting of the duo Devon Dawson and Jessie Robertson to offer “a swingy trail of cowboy-western originals and covers, offering no small touch of humor along the way.”
Burkett said he hopes to see Songbird become a downtown mainstay offering a variety of musical styles and fun.
For information, call 817-489-4840 or visit www.songbirdlive.com.