The Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick has taken on the mission of searching out and shining a spotlight on talented young artists who may have been previously overlooked. The Tivoli Society Discovery Series begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight with a performance by The Pedrito Martinez Group.
John Healey, executive theater manager at the Weinberg Center, said Martinez is just one of the artists in the series who is getting ready to explode onto the scene.
"We just happen to be on the front end of his exposure," Healey said.
One thing this Afro-Cuban ensemble does, Healey said, is take the percussive beat of Cuban jazz and apply it to modern songs. He said some of the songs the group has transformed were previously performed by Led Zeppelin, including "Stairway to Heaven."
"These are younger artists [in the series] who have been playing for some time, but haven't gotten the recognition they deserve in their careers," said Healey.
There is no admission charge for Discovery Series events, Healey said, though donations are welcome. It is a "pay what you want" program.
"People don't have to pay a penny," he said. "They only have to give up their time to take a chance on these young artists, who we think are pretty talented."
For Discovery Series performances, the theater is transformed into a more intimate venue with about 250 seats available - about a quarter of the full seating area.
The series is sponsored by the Tivoli Society, and the Martinez group performance is also funded through the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's Jazz Touring Network program with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
"It's a varied series," said Healey. "There is something for everyone."
Next up in the series on Feb. 6 are Washington, D.C., area artists Temika Moore and Kenny Wesley.
Moore has previously shared the stage with Will Downing, Roy Ayers, Marcus Johnson and the late Stanley Turrentine. Wesley is known as the "soulful nerd" with a new pop-alternative hybrid album entitled "The Real Thing."
Snarky Puppy will perform on March 6. The jazz/funk/world music group, originally from Texas, has been performing all around New York City, said Healey. He said they are coming out with a new album which he described as "amazing."
Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line will perform on April 3. The group performs a progressive roots-rock twist on traditional bluegrass and was named Best Band at Colorado's Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
Wrapping up the series on June 5 is Quinn Sullivan. At the age of 14, Rolling Stone magazine described him as a "blues prodigy." Lately, he has been performing with blues legend Buddy Guy, said Healey.