Meridian Star

October 20, 2013

Turtle Island strings join Nellie McKay at MSU Riley Center

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     A string ensemble joining with a singer-songwriter sounds like a pleasant evening of predictable music. The strings of Turtle Island Quartet joining with singer-songwriter Nellie McKay may be pleasant, but it will be anything but predictable.

    The Grammy-winning string ensemble typically goes for the most untypical, offering unique interpretations of such artists as John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix. In a similar vein, Nellie McKay’s Doris Day-like vibe is well-trained but deceptively sweet. Together, they bring their “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” tour to the MSU Riley Center on Friday at 7:30 pm. A pre-show reception will take place at 6 p.m.

    The tour’s name comes from a song penned by renowned jazz composer Billy Strayhorn and featured on the 1957 Vince Guaraldi Trio album of the same name. Vintage jazz is the theme as Turtle Island’s musicians blend their wildly versatile skills with McKay’s effortless cabaret style. On stage, they will take on Strayhorn, Billie Holiday, and others, delighting the audience with respectfully fresh interpretations of many jazz standards. The tour is in collaboration with Monterey International.

    For fans of Billie Holiday, the American Chamber Ensemble, Broadway shows.

    What Critics Say: Spicing up and stretching out cultural parameters of string quartet tradition has long been a part of the Turtle Island String Quartet’s agenda, going back to its origin in 1985. — Josef Woodard, Santa Barbara News-Press

    McKay gives off the dual vibe of old and new simultaneously. She is at once Judy Garland, Diana Krall, Weird Al and Jenny Lewis … she feeds you honey laced with razor blades… beautifully authentic and luminous. — Jason Rost, Theatre IS Easy

    Tickets are $24 and $18 at the MSU Riley Center box office, which is open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at (601) 696-2200.