Monday, September 23, 2013

Ronnie Burrage homecoming week to include three performances, induction into University City HS Hall of Fame

University City native Ronnie Burrage no doubt has had many weeks packed with activity while touring the world as drummer for jazz legends including Joe Zawinul, McCoy Tyner and Wayne Shorter.

These days, though he may travel a bit less now that he's teaching at Penn State University, he continues to maintain a busy schedule of gigging and recording in addition to his classroom commitments.

So you'd think maybe that when Burrage (pictured) decided to come home for a few days, he might want to just take it easy, hang out, see some family and friends, that sort of thing. Instead, his trip back to St. Louis this week bears scant resemblance to a vacation, with a live TV appearance with his band; three gigs at two different venues; and an induction ceremony in which he'll enter the Hall of Fame for his alma mater University City High School.

Burrage, who graduated from UCHS in 1978, will be honored along with 10 other alumni including a Nevada Supreme Court justice and a NASA scientist in a ceremony and banquet on Friday at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel, held as part of the school's homecoming weekend.

The UCHS Hall of Fame was established in 1999 and now numbers 110 graduates among its members, including playwright Tennessee Williams, hip-hop performer Cornell “Nelly” Haynes, Oakland A's co-owner Lewis Nelson Wolff, and philanthropist E. Desmond Lee. This year's inductees also will participate in the school's homecoming parade, which begins at 10:00 a.m. Saturday and goes from the Delmar Loop to the high school at 7401 Balson Ave.

Before that, though, on Tuesday Burrage and his eponymous ensemble Band Burrage will perform live on the morning newscast on local Fox affiliate KTVI, appearing in the 9:00 a.m. hour with host Tim Ezell. (You can see a clip of Burrage's last visit to the station here.)

In addition to the leader on drums and keyboards, Band Burrage also includes another St. Louisan, guitarist Eric Slaughter, plus saxophonist Rick Tate, bassist Nimrod Speaks and singer Shenel Johns.

After their TV appearance, they'll perform three live shows this week. On Thursday, they'll play at Robbie's House of Jazz. Then after the Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, and again on Saturday, Burrage and company will move to midtown for two sets per night at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

All three gigs will featured material from the group's forthcoming CD Heal, which includes original songs by Burrage, Tate, Speaks, and saxophonist Alain Bradette.

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