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Pam Tillis joins W.Va. Symphony for weekend concerts

WANT TO GO?

Pam Tillis

With the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra

WHERE: Clay Center

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

TICKETS: Adults $10 to $62, students $6 to $15

INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.wvsymphony.org

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Country singer Pam Tillis only had a few minutes to talk before she jumped on a flight from New Jersey back home to Nashville. It had been a crazy couple of days.

While, the Grammy-winning daughter of county legend Mel Tillis was trying to keep up with her usual busy schedule of shows and appearances, a series of storms passed through Branson, Mo. Several tornadoes touched down, damaging homes and businesses, including a house owned by Tillis' mother, which was severely damaged.

"The storms blew the roof off," she said.

Tillis said she's been dealing with moving her mother to another place.

"And that's no small feat," Tillis said, then laughed. "She has a lot of stuff."

Getting past the upheaval and getting back to work is foremost in her mind. She'll join the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra for concerts on Friday and Saturday. The shows are a rarity for her.

"We don't do a lot of them," she said. "That makes them extra special for us. A treat."

Tillis, best known for songs like "Don't Tell Me What To Do" and "Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)," promised that the show would be a mix of different styles: some of her songs and few other things that might surprise people to hear her sing.

But no opera.

"And I'll leave the Pops [concerts] to my sister with the classical training," she laughed.

Even though the country singer will not be singing selections from Wagner's "Ring Cycle" in their original German, performing with a symphony isn't easy, she said. It's a different kind of show.

"When you're working with a band, they follow you" Tillis said. "When you work with an orchestra, you follow them."

Arrangements are more structured. The musicians read from sheet music. Jumping off the page, she said, isn't really a good idea.

"And if you lose your place, all hell breaks loose."

It's a challenge, but nothing she can't handle, and it adds a little variety to her schedule. Tillis continues to tour, and even has a side project -- an acoustic trio she put together.

"I call them The Exhilarations," she said. "We've got a classic girl-group name and we have a softer sound people seem to like pretty well."

She hopes to record with them soon, but it's been difficult finding time to get into the studio.

"I'm blessed with so much work," she said, "but I've been stockpiling material for years. I've got enough for four different records, but you can't put out four records at once. I guess I'm trying to decide what direction to take."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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