Art Garfunkel, Kenny Loggins, Emmylou Harris, The Four Tops and many more renowned performers are coming to Mississippi State University's Riley Center in Meridian for its 2012-2013 Fall/Winter Series.
Dennis Sankovich, executive director at the Riley Center, said the lineup for this season is not only strong but also relatively new for Meridian. The center has hosted three of the lineup's guests in past seasons, he said: Aquila Theatre, "Drumline Live" and Montana Repertory Theatre. The rest, he said, have never performed at the Riley Center before, including all the musical guests.
Sankovich said this season's lineup has a lot of his personal favorites. For instance he said, he has been hoping to present jazz guitarist Pat Metheny for some time now.
"(With) Asleep at the Wheel, I've followed that band for a long time," Sankovich said. "(Regarding) The Four Tops, I grew up outside of Detroit, and the Motown sound was part of my (youth). Art Garfunkel and Emmylou Harris are all really terrific artists."
Sankovich said shuttle service from MSU to the Riley Center will not be returning this season, because not enough people have used the service in the past. He said MSU can make shuttle service available for groups who request it if the groups are large enough.
"If I end up with enough people who want to attend the shows, I can organize the shuttles, but I need at least 20 people," Sankovich said. "We'll give them a discount on their tickets for any one of the shows and help to set up transportation."
Derron Radcliff, Riley Center box office manager, said an average of about five or six guests per show use the shuttle service. He said the discount Sankovich mentioned typically comes to 10 percent for a group of 20, although discounts can be worked out for slightly smaller groups.
"Sometimes we might offer more for a larger group," Radcliff said. "We've got about a 300-person conference here today, so we offered them more of a 15 percent discount."
Radcliff said another change for the series is the family shows. The Riley Center will host two of them this season: "The Velveteen Rabbit" and "Clifford the Big Red Dog Live."
"Meridian is a family community, so the family shows are growing by leaps and bounds," Radcliff said. "We used to have the shows at 7:30 p.m., but to accommodate those families, we moved the shows to 7 p.m. so it won't be so late by the time the children get to bed."
The complete schedule for the series is as follows:
• Art Garfunkel, who won five Grammy awards together with Paul Simon and has a new solo album out in August, "The Singer," a retrospective on his 50-year career along with some new songs. Performing Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show party at 6 p.m.
• "Dirt In The Wheel," a collaborative show featuring the country genre fusion pioneers of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and nine-time Grammy Award winners Asleep at the Wheel. Performing Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show party at 6 p.m.
• Pat Metheny Unity Band, headed by 19-time Grammy winner and pioneering jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Performing Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
• Emmylou Harris, 12-time Grammy winner known for hits like "Born to Run" and "Save the Last Dance For Me" as well as multiple collaborations ranging from country to alternative rock. Performing Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-show party at 6 p.m.
• The Velveteen Rabbit, a family show presented by Enchantment Theatre Company through the use of masks, life-size puppets and music from Emmy, Grammy and Tony award winner Don Sebesky. Performing Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
• Philadanco, also known as the Philadelphia Dance Company. Performing Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
• Kenny Loggins, whose hits have appeared in such films as "Footloose," "Top Gun" and "Caddyshack." Performing Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. with a pre-show party at 4:30 p.m.
• The Four Tops, Motown harmonizers known for such hits as "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" and "Baby I Need Your Loving." Performing November 16 at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show party at 6 p.m.
• John Tesh Big Band Christmas, a family-friendly show featuring Christmas classics and audience interaction. Performing Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-show party at 6 p.m.
• "Clifford the Big Red Dog Live," a family show adapting the popular children's books, which Scholastic and PBS have also adapted into a popular animated series. Performing Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.
• "Cyrano," Aquila Theatre's rendition of the classic French play about a renaissance man whose appearance comes between him and the woman of his dreams. Performing Feb. 17 at 6 p.m.
• "Drumline Live," a marching band interpretation of hip hop, R&B and Motown music inspired by the 2002 movie "Drumline," now in its fourth tour. Performing Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
• "Biloxi Blues," Montana Repertory Theatre's rendition of Neil Simon's play about a Jewish World War II U.S. Army recruit shipped to Biloxi for basic training. Contains mature content and language. Performing March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Sankovich said a package of tickets for all the shows is on sale now through the Riley Center's website at http://www.msurileycenter.com  or by phone at 601-696-2200. He said these packages will remain available until August 13, when tickets to individual shows go on sale.
Radcliff said there is also a custom package option available starting August 6.
"You can go through our season and you can choose three or more shows and build your own package," Radcliff said. "Each ticket is $3 cheaper, and you get to buy your tickets before they go on sale to the general public."