Mountain Stage at 30: Songs From the Doc (Part Three)
Lyle Lovett - "Cowboy Man"
One of the most impressive things about Mountain Stage's roster of guests isn't just who has played the show but when they did so. Acts like Alison Krauss, Ani DiFranco, Norah Jones, Counting Crows, and Phish performed on Mountain Stage before they were widely known across America and the world. While this practice of introducing audiences to emerging talent is par for the Mountain Stage course these days, it took awhile for the show to stabilize itself and be able to develop this side of its identity. One of the first acts the show introduced the rest of world to was country crooner Lyle Lovett in May 1987.
Ray Wylie Hubbard - "Dallas After Midnight"
Mountain Stage host Larry Groce and singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard have known one another most of their lives, having both graduated from Adamson High School in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, Texas together. Hubbard first came on Mountain Stage in June 1988 at the Kerrville Folk Festival. During that performance, he played this song and even teases the crowd for a bit with "I Fought The Law".
Richard Thompson - "Turning of the Tide"
When I interviewed Richard Thompson for 'Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective' he was extremely contemplative in answering my questions but was also (very appropriately) careful in describing what the show is and means. He gave answers that teetered on both sides of the proverbial fence.
“I think that Mountain Stage definitely is Americana. You can say it’s Americana. You can say it isn’t as well."
Thompson's playing is much like the way he describes Mountain Stage. It's exactly rock but also folk. It's exactly folk but also rock. It's both of those styles and neither at the same time.
And while discussions of genre can inevitably become an idiosyncratic rabbit hole, I'll save us all a whole lot of time. Richard Thompson's music is simply good music.
Kevn Kinney & Peter Buck - "The Last Song of Maddie Hope"
When R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck joined Drivin N Cryin's Kevn Kinney on Mountain Stage in April 1990, he told Larry Groce he wanted to bring his band back to be on the show. As one might expect, Groce couldn't believe it, but--in the end--Kinney and Buck's appearance on the show paved the way for R.E.M. to land on the show a year later. The rest is history.
Editor's Note: Mountain Stage at 30: Songs From the Doc is a multi-part series that serves as a companion to a recent documentary that details the history of the show. Stay tuned to wvpublic.org as the series is rolled out over the Christmas and New Year holidays.