ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival Opening Night with Toko Telo, Bombino, and Samantha Fish with Luther Dickenson

Article Contributed by LiveLoud | Published on Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Krannert Center’s 2019-20 season opens at high speed with the return of ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival and the Opening Night Party! Get ready to gather and groove as the entire community comes together for a night of exceptional music-making; fabulous food and drink from Siam Terrace, Jet's Pizza, Wood N' Hog, Rick's Bakery, and Caribbean Grill; and all-ages amenities including souvenir posters from Weiskamp Printing, face painting, Krannert Center gold tattoos, chalk artist Scott Barber, and special limited-edition gold-colored guitar picks.

Patrons can slide in by 6pm when music begins with Toko Telo in the Amphitheatre. This Madagascar-based supergroup features two of the country’s most renowned guitarists—D’Gary and Joël Rabesolo—who dazzle audiences on sparkling, island-inspired folk compositions in the tsapiky, jihe, and beko styles that glitter with the soulful vocals of Monika Njava. (Catch Toko Telo again at 7:30pm.)

Tim Donaldson will kick things off indoors at 6:25pm by playing the National Anthem.

At 6:30pm, enjoy a sizzling set of tichumaren (North African desert blues) from Niger-born artist Bombino. He says of his Sahara homeland that “sound and music there carries a power with it, so you get the feeling when you’re holding an instrument in your hand and playing it, you’re completing a picture that was otherwise incomplete” (The New York Times).

Reverend Robert, a master of prewar blues, joins the lineup for a 7:45pm cameo. He seamlessly combines delta blues with ragtime, early jazz, and inflections from Hawaiian, African, and Caribbean traditions for an original acoustic sound.

A pair of ELLNORA alums takes to the stage at 8pm. Longtime Krannert Center collaborator Luther Dickinson frequents the “best of” lists in the guitar world and garners devotion for his powerful slide style, exceptional songwriting, and deep connection to the music of Memphis. Kansas City-born guitarist/singer/songwriter Samantha Fish continues her meteoric rise as a blues artist who really knows how to rock. Together with Fish‘s band, you can expect them to deliver an over-the-top Opening Night Party finale to remember.


·       Food sales begin and doors open at 5:30pm.

·       Toko Telo, 6pm and 7:30pm—Amphitheatre (rain location Studio Theatre)

·       Tim Donaldson, 6:25pm, Lobby—Stage 5

·       Bombino, 6:30pm, Lobby—Stage 6

·       Reverend Robert, 7:45pm, Lobby—Stage 5

·       Samantha Fish with Luther Dickinson, 8pm, Lobby—Stage 6

This event is FREE to the general public, with no tickets required.  Get the entire ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival lineup at EllnoraGuitarFestival.com.

The Krannert Center Ticket Office will be open throughout the evening’s festivities for guests to purchase tickets to events throughout the 2019-20 season. Patrons can also visit Promenade Showcase + Gift Shop for quick snacks; ELLNORA, Krannert Center, and artist merchandise; cards and gifts; and to view behind-the-scenes displays.

Following the Opening Night Party, head to the Studio Theatre at 9:30pm for Spontaneous Combustion, a late-night, ticketed set ($10-$20) featuring a powerhouse lineup of six-string practitioners.