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Mountain Blog

News and Notes

Radio Preview: Mavis Staples in Scotland

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 30, 2011

Lance Schrader
Mavis Staples at the 2011 Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland

2011 was an exciting year for Mountain Stage. We made our first trip to the Midwest, and made a whole bunch of new friends when we visited the North House Folk School back in September. Over the summer, we said goodbye to executive producer Andy Ridenour. And in just a couple days, producer Linda McSparin rides off into the sunset. So it was only fitting for Mountain Stage to kick off the year in a big way, beginning our 28th season in Glasgow, Scotland, as a part of their 2011 Celtic Connections Festival.

This was Mountain Stage's first (and only) trip across the ocean, and we were honored to work with legendary soul-gospel singer Mavis Staples. You’ll hear an extended set from Mavis and her top-notch band in what was her first-ever performance in Scotland at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. You can hear a preview in our Song of the Week, featuring the title track to Staples' Jeff Tweedy produced, Grammy winning album, You Are Not Alone. 

Dougie MacLean, live on Mountain Stage

Scottish folk singer Dougie MacLean also stopped by the Royal Concert Hall to record with us for what was his fifth appearance on Mountain Stage. You haven’t heard MacLean’s Scottish anthem “Caledonia” until you’ve heard an ecstatic crowd singing along with him, like they do on this week’s broadcast.


Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore on Mountain Stage, at the 2011 Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow

We also welcomed West Virginia native Mollie O’Brien and her husband Rich Moore to perform songs from their new release Saints & Sinners. Naturally, Mollie’s brother Tim, who has appeared on Mountain Stage more times than any other artist, also joined the Mountain Stage Band to performs a duet version of “The Water Is Wide” with pianist Bob Thompson.

Joy Kills Sorrow, live on Mountain Stage

And the show kicks off with the white-hot Boston-based string band Joy Kills Sorrow, who was definitely one of the hardest working bands at the Celtic Connections Festival. They do a couple of tunes from their critically album Darkness Sure Becomes This City, and a some new songs from their follow up This Unknown Science.

Check out the Playlist for a list of tunes performed, find a radio station that carries Mountain Stage in your area, and be sure to tell some friends on facebook. If Mountain Stage isn't carried in your area, consider writing to your local public station and let them know you’d like to hear Mountain Stage every week! We thank you for tuning in. 

Radio Preview: Here, have some CAKE

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 22, 2011

Brian Blauser
Cake, live on Mountain Stage

This weekend’s holiday gift to our listeners: a rebroadcast of one of our most anticipated shows of 2011, featuring alt-rock heavies Cake, western swing revivalists Hot Club of Cowtown, Americana man of the hour Hayes Carll, and alt-country mainstays the Old 97’s. Hear it again for the first time.

John McCrea talks to host Larry Groce about "turning it up to '4'."

Cake made their first appearance on Mountain Stage before a sold-out crowd, on the heels of their first new album in 6 years, the chart-topping Showroom of Compassion. They play several new tunes and a few old favorites.

Be sure to check out the hilarious and insightful Backstage at Mountain Stage interview with Cake frontman John McCrea. And if you’re a Cake fan, by all means enjoy our stocking stuffer: their tune “Mustache Man” – our MountainStage song of the week.

Hot Club of Cowtown kick off a sold out Mountain Stage

Acclaimed western swing revivalists Hot Club of Cowtown kick off the show. Inspired by the sound and style of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Hot Club of Cowtown's live repertoire has expanded to include a substantial amount of original material and cover songs from artists like Tom Waits.

Hayes Carll, Backstage at Mountain Stage

You’ll also hear from Hayes Carll. His latest, KMAG – YOYO (and Other American Stories) departs from his prior releases, combining the folk and storytelling elements he's known for with a more driven, rock 'n' roll sound.

Rhett Miller, you handsome devil you

Finally, alt-country institution The Old 97’s make an appearance. From its humble beginnings as a Dallas bar band, Old 97's became a pioneer of the alternative country movement in the 1990s. This was their first visit to Mountain Stage as a group, and the second for frontman Rhett Miller.

Find a time and radio station in your area where you can tune in. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook to learn the latest about our upcoming live shows and radio broadcasts.

Happy holidays, and thanks for supporting Mountain Stage


Live show news: Shires, Lee, Weber, Broussard & Bhiman

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 16, 2011

Montain Stage
Put your hands together

Music fans, we're happy to report that our February 12 show featuring Fountains of Wayne has taken shape. 


Amanda Shires performs at NPR studios

In addition to the power pop masters, we'll also be welcoming young Texas singer-songwriter and fiddler Amanda Shires. If you've been listening to Jason Isbell's excellent new album Here We Rest, then you've already heard Amanda play. 


NYC is one thing, but would she do this at the East Washington St. 7-11? Find out Feb. 12.

You'll also hear a set from Brooklyn-by-way-of-Milwaukee singer-songwriter Grace Weber. She's already performed on "Showtime at the Apollo," played the Kennedy Center, and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her jazz infused pop has also caught the eye of Billboard Magazine, which dubbed her an "artist to watch." 


This video should come with a bowl of gumbo.

 Marc Broussard will also stop by, with his acclaimed brand of bayou soul. His vocals call to mind performances by heavyweights like Otis Redding, John Hiatt and Doctor John. 


Ben Lee, ladies' man

Finally, Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee rounds out the show. Lee first gained attention of Americans in the late 90's, at a time when loud alt-rock was the thing. If you happened to see one of his videos on TV at the time, chances are, you still remember it. His latest album Deeper to Dream, is said to be his most personal yet.  

 Get your tickets for this show while you can, online, by phone (800.549.TIXX), and at Taylor Books in downtown Charleston.  


Bhi Bhiman performs "It's Cold Out Here"

And while our first show of the new year (January 15 in Morgantown) is not yet fully formed, we have just added acclaimed singer, songwriter and guitarist Bhi Bhiman. A first generation Sri Lankan-American, Bhiman's rich, soulful vocals and songwriting have been compared to Bill Withers, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan. 

Tickets for this show are on sale now, online, by phone (304.293.SHOW) and at the CAC Box Office in Morgantown. 

Thanks for supporting live music. 


Radio Preview: The Nighthawks & More

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 15, 2011

Brian Blauser
The Nighthawks, live on Mountain Stage

This week’s premier broadcast of Mountain Stage features journeyman roots rock & blues band The Nighthawks, along with acclaimed songwriter Sarah Siskind, folk duo The Milk Carton Kids, singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche, and the description-defying Chandler Travis Three-O.

Paul Bell
Nighthawks guitarist and Etch-A-Sketch master Paul Bell left this for us in the green room

Though often labeled a blues band, after hearing The Nighthawks’ signature fusion of rock, jump jazz and roadhouse blues, you’ll recognize their music as roots rock in its truest form – except that they were doing it decades before the term existed. Lead by harmonica player and singer Mark Wenner for 3 decades, they’ve spent time on the road playing with legends like Muddy Waters and Carl Perkins. And for this Mountain Stage show (which was recorded in October) the ‘Hawks were set to appear alongside none other than Hubert Sumlin, who had just fallen ill.

Here a preview of their set now via our Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Brian Blauser
The Milk Carton Kids, live on Mountain Stage

You’ll also hear a set from The Milk Carton Kids. Comprised of Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan, comparisons to classic folk pairings like Simon & Garfunkel write themselves, and dare we say the duo's intricate guitar picking is reminiscent of David Rawlings’ work with Gillian Welch.

Brian Blauser
Sarah Siskind, live on Mountain Stage

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Sarah Siskind also appears. Highly regarded among her peers, Siskind has seen her work covered by Alison Krauss, the Infamous Stringdusters, and Bon Iver.

Brian Blauser
Lucy Wainwright Roche live on Mountain Stage

 Lucy Wainwright Roche stops by. Her most recent album Lucy features contributions from The Roches, The Indigo Girls, and This American Life’s Ira Glass. She finishes her set with a brilliant cover of Fleetwood Mac’s "Everywhere," which also appears on her new album.

Brian Blauser
Chandler Travis Three-O, live on Mountain Stage

Finally – you’ll be introduced to the Chandler TravisThree-O. Combining elements of acoustic folk, jazz, psychedelica, and pure absurdity – all you need to know is that half of the "Three-O" (which naturally, is comprised of 4 members) changed into brightly colored pajamas after their first song. Travis and his band  spent a full decade opening for none other than George Carlin, paving the way for the modern intersection between music and comedy. Their tune “Drunk Angry People Shut Up” is not to be missed.

Find a time and radio station in your area where you can tune in. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook to learn the latest about our upcoming live shows and radio broadcasts. Don’t forget to let some friends know. Thanks for supporting live music on your radio.

Radio Preview: Dawes, McMurtry, Isbell & More

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 8, 2011

Brian Blauser
Dawes, live on Mountain Stage
This week, Mountain Stage is airing the premier broadcast of one of our most exciting shows of 2011. We were thrilled to be joined once again by acclaimed California rock band Dawes, along with roots rockers Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, James McMurtry, Blitzen Trapper, and Matthew Sweet.
Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, backstage at Mountain Stage

Lead by brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Dawes returns to Mountain Stage with songs from their new release Nothing Is Wrong. You can here a live performance of the album’s most talked about track “A Little Bit of Everything” via our Song of the Week. You can also watch host Larry Groce discuss the band’s music with frontman Taylor Goldsmith in our latest Backstage at Mountain Stage video.

Brian Blauser
James McMurtry, live on Mountain Stage

Texas singer-songwriter and icon of Americana music JamesMcMurtry also appears. No stranger to Mountain Stage audiences, McMurtry made his first appearance on the show in 1989. Host Larry Groce rightfully calls McMurtry “One of America’s greatest songwriters,” and influential blogger Bob Lefsetz called McMurtry’s tune “We Can’t Make it Here” “The best protest song of the twenty first century.”

Brian Blauser
Jason Isbell, live on Mountain Stage

You’ll also hear a set from Jason Isbell and his band The 400 Unit. As former member of Drive-By Truckers, Isbell was responsible for some of the band’s most memorable songs (like “Outfit”). Out on his own since 2007, Isbell has released 3 acclaimed studio albums, the most recent being Here We Rest. At one point in their set, Jason and his band break out an accordion and upright bass for what they called a “Genericana” tune (“…just like the regular, but cheaper!”). They close their set with a blistering cover of Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane."

Brian Blauser
Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper, live on Mountain Stage

Portland Oregon-based folk rock band Blitzen Trapper make their first Mountain Stage appearance. Their 2007 album Wild Mountain Nation was met with great enthusiasm by critics, and their 2008 follow-up Furr was named the 13th best album of the year by Rolling Stone. Their latest, American Goldwing has been met with much of the same enthusiasm.

Brian Blauser
Matthew Sweet, live on Mountain Stage

Finally, you’ll hear some tunes from power pop master Matthew Sweet. Sweet is celebrating the 20th (!) anniversary of his landmark album Girlfriend, so his set naturally touches on a few of the deeper cuts from that record. His brand new album is called Modern Art.

Find a time and radio station in your area where you can tune in. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook to learn the latest about our upcoming live shows and radio broadcasts. Don’t forget to let some friends know. Thanks for supporting live music on your radio. 

Hubert Sumlin, 1931 - 2011

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 5, 2011
Hubert Sumlin, live on Mountain Stage in 2001.

We were saddened yesterday to learn of the death of blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin. Sumlin, if you recall, was set to appear on Mountain Stage October 30, but was forced to cancel due to his already failing health.

As Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist from the mid 50’s until Wolf’s death in 1976, Sumlin helped define the Chicago blues sound. Listed as number 43 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Sumlin’s playing on songs like “Spoonful,” “Smokestack Lightning,” and “Wang Dang Doodle” influenced generations of imitators. Sumlin last appeared on Mountain Stage in 2001, and needless to say, we were looking forward to hearing him once again.

He will be missed.

"Hubert Sumlin was a modest and gentle man when he visited Mountain Stage. He reserved the fiery part of his character for his guitar playing on stage. I asked him, in a video interview, what he thought about famous rock guitarists using some of the licks he created while backing up Howling Wolf. Some of them made a lot of money from their very popular recordings, and while they paid Hubert great tribute, he never profited like they did. Without a trace of bitterness, his answer was that he was honored that they thought his playing was worth their attention and happy that his work was passed on. He learned from other blues greats and seemed satisfied that others learned from him. My impression from our brief encounter was that he was a naturally shy man who was thrust into the spotlight by his unusual talent. We had him scheduled to return to Mountain Stage on a recent show but that was not to be. Our sympathy goes out to his friends and family."
-Larry Groce

2012 Live Show News: Patterson Hood in Athens, GA

(Live Shows) Permanent link
By Mountain Stage
 · December 1, 2011

Patterson Hood, appearing live on Mountain Stage February 19 in Athens, GA

On February 19, 2012, Mountain Stage will return Athens GA to record with member station WUGA at the University of Georgia. The show will take place at the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center at 7pm. Tickets for the event go on sale to the general public on Monday, December 5. Tickets are $35 and $5 for University students.

Guest artists already confirmed for the show include Patterson Hood, founding member and songwriter for Athens’ own southern-rock revivalists The Drive By Truckers, who will perform a solo set of his original music. Legendary musician, lyricist and composer Van Dyke Parks and beloved Norwegian singer-songwriter Teitur will also perform. Two more guests will be announced as they are confirmed.

We’re excited to return to Athens, which has been and remains one of America’s best music cities,” says Mountain Stage host and artistic director Larry Groce, “We’ve got exciting talent lined up already, from around the world and from the area.”

"We are excited about having Mountain Stage in Athens for a second time,” says Abbie Thaxton, Traffic Director at WUGA radio. “It gives our listeners a chance to 'see' radio the show they are used to listening to. Mountain Stage has been heard in Athens for almost 25 years and Athens being the music town that it is, we think it makes for a perfect fit".

It’s great for us to take our show to cities that carry the broadcasts because they don’t get the opportunity to see us record the show like everyone in Charleston gets to do on a regular basis,” added Producer Adam Harris. “It gives us the ability to connect with our radio listeners and it gives them a chance to be a part of the audience, which is what makes our show unique.”   

Last live show of 2011: Billy Joe Shaver & more

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By Mountain Stage
 · December 1, 2011


Mountain Stage is back at the Culture Center Theater this weekend for our last show of 2011.

We’re thrilled to the marrow to be joined once again by the original Honky Tonk Hero, the legendary Billy Joe Shaver.

 Revered by everyone who’s anyone as one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century and beyond, Shaver first came to the attention of music lovers when Waylon Jennings filled nearly an entire album with Shaver’s songs, kicking off the outlaw country movement. To date, Shaver has released 23 albums, and his songs have been recorded by Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan – just to name a few. His latest is a honky-tonk gospel affair, Everybody's Brother, which features duets with Marty Stuart, John Anderson, Tanya Tucker and more.

Noam Pikelny & Steve Martin on Late Night with David Letterman

Banjo man Noam Pikelny will also be there. A charter member of the Chris Thile project The Punch Brothers, in 2010, Steve Martin awarded Pikelny the first ever “Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass,” describing Pikelny as “a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision.” On his new release, Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail, Pikelny is backed by an all-star band of heroes and legends of acoustic music, including fellow Punch Brothers Gabe Witcher and Chris Eldridge, bassist Mark Schatz, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, vocalist-mandolinist Tim O’Brien, and dobro player Jerry Douglas. (Witcher, Eldridge and Schatz will appear alongside Pikelny this Sunday),

Matraca Berg, appearing live on Mountain Stage December 4

You’ll also hear from country singer-songwriter Matraca Berg. One of Nashville’s most revered and sought-after songwriters, Matraca Berg’s tunes have been recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Reba McEntire, Dusty Springfield, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Suzy Bogguss, Pam Tillis, Deana Carter and Martina McBride.

 She earned her first No. 1 song at 18, her first Grammy nomination at 22, and in 1997, won the Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year” for “Strawberry Wine.” She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008, and just recently her song “You and Tequila” (performed by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter) was nominated for a Grammy. The song also appears on her new album, The Dreaming Fields, her first new release in 14 years.  

Caleb Klauder Country Band, appearing live on Mountain Stage December 4
The April Verch Band, and the Caleb Klauder Country Band round out the show. Building on Klauder’s intense love of honky-tonk, rockabilly, outlaw and early country, and infusing the songs with Caleb's dry, dusty voice and mature songwriting, the Caleb Klauder Country Band is a rising star in today's Americana pantheon. You can read more about Klauder here.

The April Verch band, appearing live on Mountain Stage December 4

 April Verch is a young, yet internationally renowned Canadian fiddler, singer, songwriter and stepdancer who roots music luminary Dirk Powell called “… a rare mix of all the technique and super-flashy things, along with the deep soul and tradition that comes from having grown up with the music.” Her 8th album, That’s How We Run, braces southern mountain and old time music with her plucky Canadian roots.

Tickets for this show are available online, by phone (800.549.TIXX) and in person at Taylor Books in downtown Charleston. You can get your tickets at the door this Sunday at the Culture Center, but you save yourself 10 bucks by purchasing in advance.

Thanks for supporting Mountain Stage in 2011. We begin our 29th season at our home-away-from-home in Morgantown, where our guest will be incendiary blues-rock guitarist and living legend Johnny Winter and soul-blues sensation Ruthie Foster.

Our next show in Charleston is February 5, with roots music icon Darrell Scott. You can see our current 2012 live show schedule here. We’ll see you there! 

Radio Preview: Brett Dennen & More

 Permanent link
By Mountain Stage
 · December 1, 2011

Brian Blauser
Brett Dennen, live on Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage is back this week with a premier broadcast, featuring folk-pop singer-songwriter Brett Dennen, string band revivalists the Red Clay Ramblers, country newcomer Charlie Worsham, European bluegrass instrumentalists The Kruger Brothers, and retro-Americana singer Nikki Lane.

Northern California-based singer-songwriter Brett Dennen began signing fireside as a camp counselor, and slowly picked up a devoted West Coast following.

In 2004 he was championed by KCRW “the best unsigned artist of the year,” named by Rolling Stone as one of the 10 artists to watch, and songs have been featured on Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, and House. Originally set to appear with his full band, Dennen was battling serious cast of the flu the day of his Mountain Stage appearance. Ever the professional, Dennen chose to play a stripped down set, backed only by a bottle of cold medicine and a mug of hot tea.


Brian Blauser
The Red Clay Ramblers, live on Mountain Stage

You’ll also hear from revered string band revivalists the Red Clay Ramblers. Formed in North Carolina over 40 years ago, The Ramblers draw on everything from mountain music and country to rock and New Orleans Jazz. They’ve also maintained a long association with theater, scoring numerous American musicals (including several for playwright and actor Sam Shepard) earning them a Tony. They’ve been called “the house band of North Carolina.”

Brian Blauser
Charlie Worsham, live on Mountain Stage

Country singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Worsham kicks off the show. A child banjo prodigy, he appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at just 12. He went on to the Berklee School of Music, where he majored in production & engineering. Lately Worsham has been catching buzz for his forays into rootsy pop, which has earned him spots opening for opening for mainstream darlings Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. You can hear Worsham’s performance of his tune “Mississippi In July” now, via our Mountain Stage Song of the week.

Brian Blauser
The Kruger Brothers, live on Mountain Stage

The Kruger Brothers also stop by. Originally from Europe, and now making their home in North Carolina, Jens and Uwe Kruger were introduced to American audiences in the 90’s, and quickly gained the attention none other than Bill Monroe. Exploring the fertile ground between bluegrass and jazz, in 2010, the Kruger Brothers also premiered a new work for banjo, guitar, bass and chamber orchestra titled "An Appalachian Concerto.”


Brian Blauser
Nikki Lane, live on Mountain Stage

Finally, you’ll hear from Nikki Lane. Her path to country music winds from her native Greenville, South Carolina through Los Angeles, New York, and finally to Nashville, where she also operates a vintage clothing store called High Class Hillbilly. Her retro-voiced four song EP called Gone, Gone, Gone was released in July to much interest and acclaim.

Find a time and radio station in your area where you can tune in. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook to learn the latest about our upcoming live shows and radio broadcasts.

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