Clay Hess band-promo.jpg

The Clay Hess Band. (Submitted photo) 

Attention, bluegrass music lovers

The Clay Hess Band will include a performance at The Zephyr Theatre at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, during the band’s Midwest tour. Tickets are $25 and are available at or at the door. The theater is located at 601 Main St. N., Stillwater. 651-342-1542.

Grammy Award winning artist Class Hess and his band’s latest album, Another Story, features “Tougher Than Nails” (2019), written by Ron Block (Grammy Award winning band Alison Krauss and Union Station), and recorded by The Clay Hess Band. This song topped the Bluegrass/Gospel Today Chart at #1, and is still sitting at the top of the charts after several weeks.

Clay’s first introduction to many was as the lead guitarist for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, winning a Grammy Award during his tenure there. After departing Skaggs, Clay toured and recorded with several of the top bands in the genre. With the help of long-time friend and musical comrade Randy Kohrs, Clay recorded his critically acclaimed solo CD “Rain” with the title track going to #1 on the Bluegrass Today chart. The success of the project directly led to the formation of the Clay Hess Band in 2012.

“Growing up in a musical family, it wasn’t hard to find an instrument laying around to plunk on,” Clay said. Pair that with having a desire to learn, a passion for music, and a wealth of people to learn from, and you get a musician.

“Having a family of talented players and singers is an advantage, if you can keep your ears open and your mouth shut,” Clay said. “I should have done more of both.”

Today with The Clay Hess Band you can hear the result of all of the jam sessions, bar gigs, bluegrass festivals, and hours of learning from relatives, musicians, and recordings. Known for his syncopated sense of timing, Clay always tries to keep you guessing at what is coming next.

Additional Upcoming Concerts

Phil Thompson Presents “Billy and Elton: The Hits” at The Zephyr Theatre at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. Internationally renowned pianist and vocalist Phil Thompson will be joined by Scott Dorff on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones, and Jake Hegna on bass. Tickets are $25 and are available at

International guitarist Claude Bourbon will return to The Zephyr Theatre to perform medieval and Spanish blues at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at

Visual Arts

“Visions and Desires,” an art exhibition designed to complement The Zephyr Theatre’s recently staged production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” highlights the work of Stillwater Art Guild members.

An open house with refreshments, music and conversation with exhibition artists will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at the theatre, 601 Main St. N., Stillwater.

The exhibition explores the continuum of human experience — from desire as portrayed in Tennessee Williams’ play to the visions as witnessed in higher states of consciousness, said Deborah Healy, the theatre’s art gallery director.

The leaded, stained-glass panels of Garry Dawson of Shoreview are featured. Randy Raduenz, Lou Cunico, Bob Lyskett, and Mary Kay Walsh-Kaczmarek are among the other artists exhibiting work. Paintings, photographs, textiles, and jewelry are included.

“Visions and Desires” continues through Sept. 19. For more information, phone or text Deborah Healy at 651-300-8271.

Literary arts

“When Writing Meets Art,” a literary reading, will be held on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m. The reading will feature 2019 Minnesota Book Award winners Shannon Gibney, author of “Dream Country,” young adult literature, and Susan Bartlett Foote, author of “The Crusade for Forgotten Souls,” Minnesota nonfiction. Complimentary appetizers and a cash bar will be available. A donation of $10 is suggested to benefit The Zephyr Theatre.

This reading series is held on the third Sundays of January, May, and September, at 2 p.m. The series was founded by writer and editor Elissa Cottle. To be considered for a future reading, send a sample of creative writing to

New sustaining membership options

When Zephyr supporters become sustaining members of the theatre by committing to a monthly donation of any amount, they will receive member benefits.

Sustaining members provide year-round support that contributes to the theatre’s cash flow and financial stability. That support allows The Zephyr to continue creating new programs, productions, and opportunities.

All donations are tax-deductible. For more information, visit, or call 651-342-1542.

Commemorative bricks options

The Zephyr Theatre is also continuing its “Of bricks, pavers and tiles” donation option. Supporters may purchase $1,000 custom-engraved bricks for the grand vestibule wall of donors to be built at the entrance of the planned auditorium addition.

Also available for purchase are custom-engraved walkway and porte-cochere entry pavers ($350 to $750) and custom-engraved floor tiles for the bar and planned bakery ($500 or $1,500).

Fund-raising goals

The Zephyr Theatre is raising funds to build a 330-seat auditorium onto the north end of its site, and to renovate the existing space, including the addition of a bakery that will supply house-made desserts at productions. In addition, cash flow is needed to support ongoing operations. The professional theatre company currently presents plays, concerts, visual arts, literary arts, and other performance events on two small stages, and at off-site locations.

Volunteers wanted

The Zephyr Theatre welcomes volunteers for a wide range of tasks to help with performances, events, and other operations. For more information about becoming involved with The Zephyr Theatre’s community of volunteers, send an email to

Theatre rental

The Zephyr Theatre is available for site rental by outside organizations that want to present performances and events. To make an appointment, or for more information, contact Carol Hall at

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