Our Roots In Jazz
The Ellington Fellowship Playhouse has been around since 1984 providing over 30 years of colorful music and events. The Ellington has featured many greats such as Doc Watson, Chuck Mangione, Taj Mahal, Junior Walker, Delbert McClinton, The Persuasions, Roy Buchanan, Charlie Byrd, The Hackensaw Boys, Chris Smither, the Dirty Dozen, Leon Redbone, Commander Cody, Jimmy Thackery, John Hammond, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard and many many more.
The Ellington got its start at a theater on Rivermont avenue, the building had a colorful past. It’s been a part of the cultural and historical tapestry of Central Virginia since it was built in 1929 (or 1903 depending on your research). In 1984 four investors saw its potential, formed a partnership, bought it and started the Ellington Fellowship Playhouse. The Ellington Fellowship Playhouse started as a true playhouse featuring dinner theater. After a few years the focus changed to music and Ellis Marsalis kicked off the new programming.The original founders of the Ellington have retired from our board, but Ellington continues the hard work they started long ago.
In 2013 The Ellington began restructuring with new members and introduced a larger repertoire of musical programming from several different genres. Some of the new programming included The Hackensaw Boys, Start Making Sense, HMFO, Culture featuring Kenyatta Hill, and several others.
In 2014, due to unforeseen circumstance; The Ellington was left without a building to call home. Over the next year our board searched for a new building, and were fortunate enough to be welcomed by the Renaissance Theatre as our temporary home for the spring of 2016. With seating for 90 people, The Renaissance Theatre was a cozy venue where we were able to wet our feet again and get back to the business of entertaining our patrons. We kicked off our 2016 programming with Work Release, the band of one of our long time board members Glenn Marshall.
Spring of 2016 The Ellington struck a deal with The Glass House located on Jefferson St in downtown Lynchburg. The building is a mixed use facility for weddings, events, corporate functions and more. With capacity for 300, there was ample room for the Ellington to expand its programming and begin bringing back larger National and Regional talent. The Ellington also took on the After Cheers! Events for 2016, a selection of events coinciding with Friday Cheers.
The Ellington is dedicated to jazz great Duke Ellington. Duke’s music encompassed jazz, blues, classical and spiritual genres and brought people of all backgrounds together. It was that incredible accomplishment that inspired the Ellington’s founders. Today you will find a blend of all genres passing through the doors of the new Ellington. With the support of our local community, donors, sponsors, and partners; we will continue this legacy well into the future.