The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc. 50th Anniversary Celebration Series is a six part series remounting the original works of The Carpetbag Theatre as fully produced performances at local Knoxville and Maryville venues. The performances, made possible by generous support from The Roy Cockrum Foundation, will take place over the course of the three years leading up to the company's 50th Anniversary Celebration (2017, 2018, 2019) with two productions per year. CBT will invite former ensemle members who have remained in the professional field to return as guest artists and directors of the project. You can purchase tickets at the Clayton Center Box Office.
The series starts with Between a Ballad and a Blues. Between a Ballad and a Blues, a play with music from award winning playwright Linda Parris-Bailey, tells the story of African-American-Appalachian renaissance man Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, one of the most celebrated string-band musicians in the history of American music. The play highlights Mr. Armstrong's more than seven decade musical career. From his start in the industrial city of La Follette, he learned to sing in at least seven languages and began playing a homemade fiddle, performing with his siblings in the 1920's. He went on to tour internationally throughout the immigrant mining communities and metropolitan nightlife of the US with fellow musicians, Carl Martin and Ted Bogan as the Tennessee Chocolate Drops. Mr. Armstrong continued to perform until his death in 2003, sharing string-band music with the world and planting the seeds for other American music forms including Country and Blues. Armstrong's remarkable ability to adapt and survive, good-natured ribbing, lively tales and energetic musical style come to life in this original work from CBT.