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Jazz with living legend bassist Buster Williams

This performance is presented in partnership with Central PA Friends of Jazz.

July 29 @ 7:30 pm 9:30 pm

$5 – $100 This concert is open seating by section. Premium Section is the first 10 rows. Standard Section is rows 11-19.

Performing with: Steve Wilson, sax; Lenny White, drums: and Brandon McCune, piano.

Imagine hanging out with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, hearing them jam together, trading riffs, then riffing with words and trading stories. Bird and Diz are gone, but giants still walk among us. One of those giants is Buster Williams. Buster has played with everyone. Just to name a few:  Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Art Blakey, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Benny Golson and Count Basie. Buster Williams: Bass to Infinity is a 2019 documentary film that tells the tale of Mr. Williams’ historical career and shows why he is still going strong at age 81.

Buster Williams is an artist whose playing knows no limits. He has played, recorded, and collaborated with jazz giants including Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, Dexter Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins, and Count Basie. 

Born in Camden, New Jersey, Buster was the son of a seamstress and a bassist, Charles Anthony Williams, who worked day jobs to support his five children. “He would prepare my lessons for me,” Buster Recalls, “and when I got home from school I was supposed to practice, then he would listen while he was eating his dinner. It was a unwritten law that I had to play it right or hear about it. I was going to be the best. I had no choice. In those days, instead of a two-car family, we were a two bass family. 

At 17, Buster began playing with Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, just one month after graduating from high school. In 1962 he began to work with Betty Carter, and then with Sarah Vaughn, who took him on his first European tour. He was 20, on the French Riviera, and meeting musicians who would heavily influence his future, including Miles Davis, George Coleman, and Tony Williams. 

Back in New York, Buster began to work with Art Blakely, Herbie Mann, and Herbie Hancock, until gigs started to conflict and Buster was forced to choose Hancock’s sextet. Then somewhere in the early ’80’s Buster did a tour with a young Wynton Marsalis. 

At last, says Buster, “after working almost continuously for 30 years as a sideman, I decided it was time to take the plunge, step up to the front, play my music, and express my concept of a cohesive musical unit. I’ve served my apprenticeship under many great masters and feel that it’s my honor and privilege to carry on the lineage that makes this music such an artistically rich art form.” 

The Gretna Grooves series is generously sponsored by Brian J. Bubnis, Morgan Stanley. 

This concert is generously sponsored by Treazure, Belle, and Birdie Johnson, in honor of Isabel and Stanley Peiffer. 

About the Artist

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Buster Williams

200 Pennsylvania Avenue
Mount Gretna, PA 17064 United States
+ Google Map
(717) 361-1508

Helpful Tips

Bring a pillow

Consider bringing a pillow if you like a little cushion.

First Listen!

First Listen are free pre-concert mini-performances by our area’s most talented youth musicians.  We partner with the Women’s Symphony Association of Lancaster to present finalists from their Young Artists Competition on our First Listen series. They occur before most of our Sunday concerts.  Please check each concert page for more details.

Parking is Free

Parking guards will be around to assist you.  Handicapped parking in front and behind the playhouse is limited.


Restrooms can be found in the lower level of the Playhouse, entered from outside.  There is also a single handicapped-friendly restroom stage right (if you are looking at the stage, it is to the left).

Rain or Shine

Performances are rain or shine.  If extreme weather causes a change in the status of a performance, an announcement will be posted on our home page and sent via email to all ticket buyers with details on rescheduling or cancellation, and ticket exchange or refund policy.

What to Wear

Come as you please with attire suitable for the temperature. The Playhouse is covered but open on the sides. Big ceiling fans ease the heat on hot, summer days.


In addition to the eateries in and around Mt. Gretna, the Playhouse also has a concession stand! We sell various drinks and snacks, such as water, coffee drinks, soda, and candy, both before the performance and during intermission. The inviting smell of our delicious popcorn is a staple of our performance nights in the playhouse!