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Foster's Satchel

Foster’s Satchel musicians include Stace England and Charlie Tabing from Stace England and the Salt Kings, Jake and Mary Deleonardis from St. Louis-based May Day Orchestra, and Beth Koehler, back-up singer for alt-country legend Jason Ringenberg.

CARBONDALE — The Varsity is set to host Foster’s Satchel, a music and multimedia performance group that will carry the audience on a journey through time, on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Foster's Satchel includes accomplished historical musicians Stace England and Charlie Tabing from Stace England and the Salt Kings (“Greetings from Cairo, Illinois” and “The Amazing Oscar Micheaux”), Jake and Mary Deleonardis from St. Louis-based May Day Orchestra, and Beth Koehler, back-up singer for alt-country legend Jason Ringenberg.

The show takes listeners on a journey through 19th-century musician and composer Stephen Foster's unlikely triumph and ultimate heartbreak. Multimedia projections of photographs and original sheet music give audiences additional insight into Foster's life.

Foster composed more than 200 songs between 1847 and 1864, yet few know more than a handful of his most enduring, such as “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair,” “Old Folks at Home/Suwannee River” and “My Old Kentucky Home.” Foster's Satchel takes a deep dive into his obscure and complex legacy, mining unknown songs from his entire catalog to illuminate the composer's life and the state of America as his writing progressed, from his optimistic and successful early years to wrestling with psychological survival at the end of his life with the country mired in civil war.

The band has taken a Mermaid Avenue approach (the partnership between Wilco and Billy Bragg with Woody Guthrie's unknown writing), focusing on Foster’s often evocative lyrics and rearranging music for modern ears to reveal one of the most remarkable and unknown stories in American music.

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The show begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, with opening act Carter & Connelly, a Southern Illinois duo.

Tickets are $10. They are available in advance at thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available at the venue until the night of the show when doors open at 6:30. That’s also when the Varsity Bar opens.

The Varsity is downtown Carbondale at 418 S. Illinois Ave. To keep up with upcoming events, go to facebook.com/varsitycenter.

For more about the group and Stace England, go to staceengland.com.

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