“Cross Currents,” Columbia Festival of the Arts’ (CFA) 2015 summer festival, will begin with a free opening weekend on the Lakefront June 12–14 — a weekend of music, fine art and outdoor fun for the whole family — and continue through June 27 with film, dance, comedy, theater and music.

“This summer festival will be the last of its kind; this fall, we will move entirely to weekend-length festivals, and the old 16-day model will be gone,” said Todd Olson, executive director of the multi-disciplinary arts festival, now in its 28th season.

“For 27 years, CFA has been a Lakefront fixture; now we will never go away and [will] produce unforgettable and diverse arts festivals year-round,” he said. And don’t worry, the summer festival next year still will include free events at the Lakefront, Olson assured.

The “Cross Currents” festival is a blend of contemporary artists filled with electrifying performances and fascinating hybrids like global sensation Pilobolus, fusing modern dance theater and acrobatics; and Hot Club of San Francisco: “Cinema Vivant,” celebrating imagination with live Gypsy swing and vintage silent films.

The festival finale will be “The Best of The Second City,” a performance by Chicago’s legendary laugh factory of comedy’s best and brightest. Olson noted, “Pilobolus, The Second City, Sundance Film Festival Shorts and Sprout Films have all been sell-outs for us in the past, so we’re looking forward to kicking off summer in an exciting way.”

Blind Boys of Alabama

On Friday, June 19, Blind Boys of Alabama will perform at the Jim Rouse Theatre. Recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music, they have won five Grammy Awards and were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Grammy ceremonies.

Having appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” “The Grammy Awards,” “60 Minutes,” “The Colbert Report” and their own holiday special on PBS, the group is well-known for crossing musical boundaries with their interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary material by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits.

Opening for the Blind Boys of Alabama will be Maryland’s own Andy Poxon Band, a local favorite that has opened for Tommy Castro, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, Coco Montoya and JD McPherson.


Creative contortionists and modern dance performance company Pilobolus will appear on Thursday, June 25. With sensual contortions and gravity-defying acrobatics, Pilobolus has been exhilarating audiences worldwide for more than 40 years. The dance group was showcased during the 79th Academy Awards, and since then, has leaped and tumbled to fame, frequently collaborating with celebrities and companies to create innovative artistic pieces.

Pilobolus maintains its own singular style, evolving interplay with shapeshifting, shadowplay and other explorations while actively collaborating with the best and brightest minds from all conceivable professions the world over. The results of these collaborations have proven amazing feats can be achieved, and Pilobolus has been recognized for its developments in dance and multimedia art. Pilobolus’s core mission is to make art that builds community, which aligns with CFA’s community-oriented goals.

The Second City

Comedy legends The Second City return to Columbia to present “The Best of The Second City” as the finale performance of the festival. The show features the best cutting-edge satire, revues, sketches and songs from The Second City’s 55-year history, made famous by superstars like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.

Beginning as a small cabaret theater on Chicago’s north side in 1959, The Second City has grown to become a comedy empire celebrated for its savagely brilliant satire and responsible for many of the biggest comedic voices of the last 15 years. Always a hit, The Second City has established itself as a breeding ground for just-before-they-were-famous comedy stars.