A night of soul and blues at the Masonic Hall

Chris Bergson and Ellis Hooks take the stage as the Basement Music Series continues


BENNINGTON — The Vermont Arts Exchange announces the return of Basement Music Series favorite Chris Bergson along with acclaimed soul, blues and gospel singer Ellis Hooks on Saturday at the Masonic Hall at 504 Main St., Bennington. Doors open at 7 p.m. while the show starts at 8.

After Bergson's and Ellis' January show in Bennington was cancelled due to snow, the first ever BMS show cancelled for any reason, the artists did not want to miss out on playing in Bennington. Bergson's earlier shows at VAE's stage normally included a full band but recently through a collaboration with Hooks, both have found themselves having quite a lot of fun together touring in Europe.

Bergson has established himself as "one of the most inventive songwriters in modern blues music" (All Music Guide), creating his own blend of blues, roots and soul. Bergson has performed and/or shared the stage with Hubert Sumlin, Levon Helm, B.B. King, Norah Jones, John Hammond, Etta James and Bettye LaVette, to name just a few. Bergson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame in February 2015, with MOJO Magazine's #1 blues album of 2008, Fall Changes; #2 blues album of 2011, Imitate the Sun; and #3 blues album of 2014.

All Music Guide says of Ellis Hooks, "Until the arrival of Ellis Hooks on the 21st century blues and soul scenes with his now-signature meld of R&B, blues and Southern gospel, it seemed that the great stories had already been told.... Not so." It called Hooks "the true continuum... reminiscent of some of the greats."

He began his singing career in the church choir, but fell under the sway of the soul, blues, and country music. At 15, he hitchhiked to NYC, playing the occasional club gig on Bleeker Street, and singing in Central Park. He earned enough for a one-way trip to Europe and spent time in Paris, Amsterdam, and in Milan, where he played tube stops and street corners.

Hooks is the true continuum in the Southern traditions of soul, blues, and gospel; Hooks' voice is his own, and his phrasing is a trademark. Given the powerful nature of his recordings and his now-storied intensity in concert, Hooks may indeed be the artist who bring these historic traditions back into the musical dialogue and onto the charts in the 21st century.

"Together, this night will surely be a treat to see two such great performers in an intimate setting," VAE director Matthew Perry said. "When Chris returned from Mexico playing with Ellis, he said to me, `I have something that I want to do in Bennington that I think you guys are gonna like.' " As always, Thyme Tables Catering libation will be served.

Tickets for this Basement Music Series concert are $18 in advance through www.vtartxchange.org or by calling 800-838-3006. If not sold out, tickets are $22 at the door. Student tickets are available for $10. Garam garam will be providing homemade food to purchase and a cash bar will be provided by Thyme Tables Catering of Shaftsbury.

Become a 2020 Basement Music Series Sponsor and get tickets, a reserved table and if you wish, your name or business logos in promotional material and mentioned onstage. The tax-deductible sponsorships are critical to continuing the BMS and ensuring the diversity and quality of the artists VAE presents. The BMS not only benefits the community, but also local restaurants, artists and musicians. Contact Perry at 802-442-5549 or matthewvae@comcast.net for more information about becoming a sponsor.



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