On the Spot: Brian Stokes Mitchell

February 16, 2012

Brian Stokes Mitchell does not sleep. That’s the only explanation for how he can do all he does, which currently includes filming “Glee” (he’s one of Rachel’s dads), recording two albums and preparing for “Brian Stokes Mitchell Sings the Ellington American Songbook,” a concert at Strathmore that’s part of its “Discover Ellington” festival.

How do you have time for all this?
Sometimes I think, “What have I gotten myself into?” But I always say it’s nice to have it to [complain] about. If it weren’t happening, I’d be saying, “Nobody wants me! Nobody loves me!”

Do you have time to practice?
For me, the work becomes the study. It’s what I love about what I do. To be doing a TV show and then to be doing an Ellington show — they’re really all kind of the same thing, but they are different, and it keeps itself fresh.

What made you want to do this Ellington concert?
I was raised on Duke Ellington. My father had been in a jazz band since he was a teen, and on Saturday and Sunday mornings, he would get up really early and put on albums by Duke Ellington and Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald.

Is he excited you’re doing this show?
I think it may be more special for me. This is a way to connect with my dad.

Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda; Fri., 8 p.m., $39-$79; 301-581-5100. (Grosvenor-Strathmore)
Kristen Page-Kirby covers film, arts and events for Express.
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