10 Mountain Stage Highlights of 2016

Dec 29, 2016

The year 2016 was noteworthy for lots of reasons at Mountain Stage .  Our 32nd year of live performance radio from the Mountain State included 25 shows from seven venues in four states and two new guest-hosts! With 2017 around the corner (11 shows already on sale) and nostalgia in the air, here are 10 highlights of the year that made 2016 a special one.

If you haven’t already, take a look and listen to our Favorite Performances of 2016  post.

Robert Earl Keen, Sandra Groce and Larry Groce on stage in January 2016.
Credit Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

* The Show That Almost Wasn’t*
Jan. 24, 2016 – Charleston, WV

The snow came hard on Friday evening. Guster postponed their show in Philly and stayed put in Pittsburgh, and even did a Facebook Live  dumpster concert.  After two hours and a little help from a local hardware store, Robert Earl Keen and band finally got out of their hotel parking lot in Charlottesville and on the road to Charleston. The Westies hit the road like nothing had even happened.  Sadly our friend Rhett Miller was stranded, however.  Fortunately for us our host, co-founder and artistic director Larry Groce had a new album, “Live Forever,” and he was gearing up to perform some dates throughout the state in support of the new release. Larry stepped in and did a set of tunes from his new record along with his wife Sandra on viola and the Mountain Stage Band. The performance of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever” was special since Keen graciously agreed to step in and sing with Larry on their fellow Texan’s tune.

Hear the set, and imagine the 3 feet of snow, via NPR Music.

Wilco returned to Mountain Stage in February.
Credit Josh Saul/Mountain Stage

*Wilco Returns*
February 14, 2016

Chicago rockers Wilco first appeared on Mountain Stage in July of 1995 and they came back in August, 1999. On February 14, 2016, some 17 years later, they returned  armed with a killer new record, Star Wars, and a show-stopping Bowie cover ("Space Oddity") that capped off a unique acoustic performance. We sold one-third of the Culture Center’s 460 seats the night of our 32nd anniversary show and the rest were gone within an hour of the public on-sale the next morning. Lucky for Charleston, we got another dose of Wilco in June, when the band returned for a memorable performance at The Clay Center, and we can relive the band's acoustic set from Mountain Stage here.

Michael Cerveris, David Lindley, Judy Collins and Ari Hest on stage in Morgantown, WV.
Credit Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage / Mountain Stage

*Michael Cerveris  Appears in  Morgantown. *
April  17, 2016

It’s not every day we get to invite a two-time Tony Award winner to Mountain Stage, much less a West Virginia native whose father got his degree from WVU. The incomparable Michael Cerveris took a break from the award winning Broadway production of “Fun Home” and brought his band Loose Cattle to Morgantown for a set that included songs form their newest release “Piety”.  He incorporated some student string-players, got a hug from Judy Collins, and stuck around the next morning to speak to theater students. Just two months later Cerveris was back in touch with us, this time to coordinate a flood relief benefit at Joe’s Pub in New York City to benefit the Red Cross of WV.  He welcomed Larry Groce and other WV Music luminaries Todd Burge, The Carpenter Ants , Tyler Childers and Ona to perform, plus Mountain Stage friends Nellie McKay, Anders Parker, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Laura Cantrell.

You can watch the benefit show, courtesy of Joe’s Pub on YouTube. Our hat is off to Michael for remembering his home state following the devastating floods that impacted West Virginia in June.

Lexington, Pittsburgh and Harrisonburg audience shots.
Credit Adam Harris/Mountain Stage / Mountain Stage

*Traveling to New Towns*
April 3, September 11 and September 18, 2016.

In April we took the show on the road to the bluegrass state, home of the Kentucky Derby, Ale-8-1 and The Judds, when WUKY  in Lexington brought us to the Singletary Center on the campus of University of Kentucky.  Later in September we visited James Madison University’s Forbes Center in Harrisonburg, VA as guests of WMRA, followed by a trip to the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, PA with help from WYEP  and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. When you add in two shows in Morgantown with WVU Arts & Entertainment and two shows in Elkins, WV with the Augusta Heritage Festival and the Mountain State Forest Festival, we put in some serious miles throughout 2016. 

*New Stations*
Thanks to our colleagues at NPR and NPR Music, we close out 2016 with almost 200 radio stations carrying Mountain Stage each week. This year we welcomed ten new stations to the family. We hope you can listen in these areas, or find out where we are heard in your town, so you can be a part of our radio audience each week. Thanks to these stations for adding Mountain Stage to their schedule in 2016, and to ALL of our affiliates who bring our show to the listeners each week. Without you there would be no Mountain Stage and we never forget that.

WTJX – Public Radio of the US Virgin Islands
WFDD - Winston-Salem, NC
WPSU – State College, PA
NHPR – New Hampshire Public Radio
WQCS-  Fort Pierce, FL
WGTE – Toledo, OH
WUWF-Pensacola, FL
KWIT – Siouxland Public Media  Sioux City, IA
WBHM  - Birgmingham, AL
WSKG - Binghamton, NY (Staring in February)

Foy Vance performed "Burden" inside the Hallelujah sculpture in front of the Clay Center in Charleston, WV.
Credit Vasilia Scouras / Mountain Stage

*Artists inside Art*
October 16, 2016

We continued our collaboration with the public media video service VuHaus, where you can watch a Best-of playlist featuring some of our favorite videos of the year, to stream some live shows this year. For the first time we created some content off stage and outdoors. Northern Ireland sensation Foy Vance and his band gathered under the Hallelujah Sculpture, built by Albert Paley and gifted to The Clay Center, to perform the heartfelt tune “Burden.” Thanks to the gang at Brainwrap Productions;  Michael Valentine, Max Nolte and Courtney Holschuh, who captured the video for us, with help from our summer intern Nathan Thomas and Associate Producer Vasilia Scouras.

WATCH: http://www.vuhaus.com/videos/deleted-burden

Thanks to Base Camp Printing Company and the Charleston CVB, limited edition posters are printed for each Mountain Stage show and available at the merch table and Base Camp's brick & mortar store.
Credit Vasilia Scouras / Mountain Stage

*PARTNERSHIPS*

The world is too small and the hours too long to go it alone all the time. That’s why in 2016 we found ourselves pairing up with like-minded tag-team partners like GoToWV, The Charleston, WV CVB, Blenko Glass, Base Camp Printing, and our local record stores. We also enjoyed capital-P Partnerships with the likes  of WVU Arts & Entertainment, The 80th Mountain State Forest Festival, Augusta Heritage Festival, FestivALL Charleston, The Clay Center and the above mentioned partner stations like WUKY, WMRA and WYEP.

Joni Deutsch and Conor Knighton both hosted episodes of Mountain Stage in 2016.
Credit Josh Saul/Mountain Stage

*Two New Guest Hosts*
June 26 and October 23

While Larry took to the stage for a rare performance early in 2016, he also stepped aside on two occasions to welcome fresh faces and voices to the show. In June Joni Deutsch, our Assistant Producer and host of the indie-alt program A Change of Tune, became our first female guest host during FestivALL Charleston.  Later in the fall, we welcomed back Charleston native and frequent CBS Sunday Morning contributor Conor Knighton to host. Go back in the Podcast archive to hear Joni on Episode #873  and Conor on episode #882.  On February 12, 2017 we will welcome WV singer-songwriter and frequent guest Todd Burge to the host’s mic, and in June Joni is going to step up to the plate again.

#WhyListen and Record Store Happy Hour Events were highlights of our year.
Credit Josh Saul/Mountain Stage / Mountain Stage

*EVENTS*

Speaking of Joni, she kept us busy this year with multiple #WhyListen  events throughout the state, premiering new music from established recording artists and West Virginia all-stars in Charleston, Fayetteville, Shepherdstown, West Virginia and even Washington, D.C.  We are grateful for all the various locations and the organizations who donated their space, time and gifts to these events and helped us spread the good word about music throughout the state.  Also shout-outs to our panelists John Inghram, Jordan Hudkins, Andrew Adkins and William Matheny, who joined Joni and Larry on the #WhyListen panels. With help from our Associate Producers Vasilia Scouras and Jeff Shirley, we also held two Record Store Happy Hour  events in collaboration with our local music shops Budget Tapes & Records and Sullivan’s Records. Look for more fun happenings like these in the new year.

The marquee of the Capitol Plaza Music Hall in April, 1991.
Credit Mark Wolfe

*R.E.M. 25 Years Later*

In April we recognized the 25th Anniversary of what is surely the most legendary show in our three-decade history. It was 1991. R.E.M. had released “Out of Time” to critical and commercial acclaim, and they made three stops in the United States that year: Saturday Night Live, MTV Unplugged and Mountain Stage.  To mark the anniversary we enlisted you, the audience members, to tell your stories about that fateful day when the spotlight was brightly lit over Charleston, WV.  We heard so many great stories of that unforgettable night. Our summer intern Nathan Thomas (follow him on Twitter) turned them into an audio documentary called “A Big Band Visits a Small Town: R.E.M. at 25,” which you can hear in our podcast feed or on this post. The band also brought some attention back to Mountain Stage when they included the legendary performance from that night on the 4 Disc 25th Anniversary Deluxe Reissue of the landmark album “Out of Time,” that was released in November. Did we mention it was legendary?

Thank you for reading and being a part of Mountain Stage this year. We hope you'll tune in, download a podcast, follow us on ALL the social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) and come see us in person sometime in 2017.

Happy New Year from the entire Mountain Stage Team.