The University of Texas at Austin

04/02/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/02/2024 11:27

Texas Performing Arts Presents World Premiere Performance by Darden Smith, UT Songwriter in Residence



McCullough Theatre, May 4, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets on sale Friday, April 5 at 10 a.m.

April 2, 2024- Texas Performing Arts announces the world premiere of Western Skies by The University of Texas at Austin's 2023-24 Songwriter-in-Residence Darden Smith on Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the McCullough Theatre. For one special evening, Smith presents a new performance of songs, stories, and photographs to get lost and find the way home through the landscape and mythologies of Texas and the American West.

Smith is the first recipient of the songwriter-in-residence position at the University. The position is part of an initiative to bring more live music opportunities to the Forty Acres, which is a component of President Jay Hartzell's strategic plan unveiled in 2022.

Tickets for Western Skies go on sale this Friday, April 5 at 10 a.m. at Texas Inner Circle members can access pre-sale tickets starting Wednesday, April 3 at 10 a.m.

Featuring performances by Smith and a four-piece band, this staged concert evening incorporates photos, videos, songs, and stories. The production has been developed in residence at UT with collaborators including director Rod Caspers, dramaturge Liz Frankel, musical arranger Michael Ramos, lighting and video designer Matt Smith, and sound designer Phillip Owen. The band includes Roscoe Beck on bass, David Jimenez on guitar and vocals, Alex Marrero on percussion and vocals, and Michael Ramos on keyboard. The world premiere production is produced by Texas Performing Arts for UT's Songwriter in Residence Program, which is housed in the College of Fine Arts.

Amid a series of solo road trips through West Texas in 2020 and 2021, musician Darden Smith found himself writing songs at the wheel and taking Polaroid pictures of the stark and beautiful terrain. Inspired by the spirit of the landscape, he scribbled his observations in a notebook and found new life in old lyrics. Between words, music, and images, the western skies came vividly to life.

This new stage production is an immersive journey through a world both real and imagined, a place of mystery and mythology, possibility, and longing. Smith's stories, songs, and photographs are steeped in isolation, though rarely lonely. They are timeless, yet acutely aware of the hours and minutes whizzing by like mileposts on the highway.

Darden Smith is a singer-songwriter, musician, and educator. His 35-year career as a musician has led to 16 critically acclaimed albums that weave together rock, pop, country, folk and Americana influences with the musical roots of his home state of Texas.

Smith is the first recipient of the songwriter in residence position at The University of Texas at Austin. The program, housed in the College of Fine Arts, is part of the University's efforts to expand live music experiences on campus while integrating the UT community into Austin's vibrant live music scene. More information about UT's Songwriter in Residence is available here.

This production of Western Skies is made possible by The University of Texas at Austin Office of the President through the Change Starts Here initiative.

Texas Performing Arts is the professional arts presenting and producing program of The University of Texas at Austin. One of the largest and most active university-based performing arts centers in the U.S., Texas Performing Arts is an anchor institution in Austin's arts, cultural, and entertainment landscape. Texas Performing Arts operates venues on the UT campus including Austin's largest theatre, the newly renovated Bass Concert Hall. Its public programs include Broadway in Austin; the Texas Welcomes series of national touring artists; and a curated season of international dance, theatre, music and more. Texas Performing Arts is an integral unit of UT's College of Fine Arts and engages thousands of students across the university every year. In calendar year 2022, TPA sold 250,000 tickets serving as a popular gateway to campus. Following a national search, Tony Award-winning producer Bob Bursey was appointed Executive and Artistic Director in January of 2020.