Whether you’re hoping to catch a holiday music performance or looking to explore the connection among art, music and community, a hometown artist and his collaborators have you covered in three upcoming shows.
Lawrence native and Free State High School 2016 alum Ernesto Hodison Jr. calls the opportunities “a huge blessing” after the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down his original plans. He graduated in 2019 from Kansas City Kansas Community College, where he studied voice and jazz.
“I was going to go straight into full-time performing artist and then everything kind of shut down,” he recounted.
So Hodison recalibrated and launched a comeback – a second debut of sorts. In October, his voice carried across South Park in his portrayal of Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man, Concert Version.”
And much like the community of River City comes together in that production, Hodison hopes his interactive shows at the Cider Gallery on Dec. 16 will encourage those who attend to do the same.
Describing it as “super chill,” Hodison said the two multimedia shows were intended to spark conversation through art and music. In addition to Hodison and his five-piece band’s performances throughout the night, attendees can also peruse the art exhibition and mingle with each other.
“I have five friends who are going to be displaying some pieces that people can purchase, and interact, and ask questions about the processes,” he said. “I wanted to not only entertain people but for it to sort of be a comfortable setting where we can … create a deeper connection between art, music and community.”
That form of networking, Hodison said, provides an exchange platform that can gather momentum to fund future projects. As an independent artist, he sees that as a win-win for creators and live performers, as well as the community.
On Dec. 18, Hodison headlines “The Holiday Show: The Concert Experience,” a mix of his original music and festive songs, at the Lawrence Arts Center. A nine-piece band, multiple vocalists and horns round out the production promising “all the soulfulness of the holidays.”
With a touch of rebranding, Hodison said he hoped to make “The Holiday Show” an annual concert.
Featuring artists and creators from Kansas City and Lawrence, the events also contain a family element. Hodison is collaborating with his older sister, Olivia, and younger sister, Maya. Friends Tony Reyes and Andre Reyes, Jr., who are brothers, also join him.
“The Art Experience” showtimes are 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16 at Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St. Tickets cost $6 at the door and are available online via EventBrite for $6.32, including fees. Buy tickets for the early show here and the late show here.
“The Holiday Show: The Concert Experience” takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $17 and can be purchased online at this link or at the venue.