R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills and the Rolling Stones keyboardist/musical director Chuck Leavell will join violinist Robert McDuffie this fall for a tour honoring iconic musicians from Georgia. The trio will perform songs from artists like Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers Band, R.E.M., Outkast, Gram Parsons, James Brown, Gregg Allman, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the B-52s, Brook Benton and more, along with the Mills-composed Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra.
The four-date trek, dubbed “A Night of Georgia Music,” kicks off September 29th in Atlanta, Georgia. The tour continues October 2nd in Birmingham, Alabama and October 4th in Savannah, Georgia before concluding October 5th in Augusta, Georgia.
The shows will feature Mills on electric bass, guitar and piano; Leavell on piano and McDuffie on violin. Their band will also include guitarists John Neff and William Tonks, drummer Patrick Ferguson, conductor Ward Stare and the MCS Ensemble from the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University.
“What I really like about this is that we are combining two worlds, rock and roll and classical,” Mills said of the show in a statement. “The Venn diagram, I think, has a little more overlap than most people believe, so we’re just trying to prove that, to combine the styles and come up with something interesting.”
“All my life I’ve been playing dead white European male music,” joked McDuffie, a Grammy-nominated perform who has played with numerous prominent orchestras, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics. “I couldn’t be more excited to perform works by these beloved contemporary songwriters.”
Mills and McDuffie previously collaborated on Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, which they debuted in 2016 and have toured in the U.S. and internationally. The duo first met growing up in Macon, Georgia, where Mills’ parents sang in the choir at First Presbyterian Church and McDuffie’s mother was the music director.