Dave Mistich Published

Mountain Stage at 30: Songs From the Doc (Part Two)


First off, Merry Christmas!

Hello again and welcome back (presuming, of course, you stopped by for the first installment in this series a few days ago)! While Monday’s post is a nice run-down of the earliest moments of Mountain Stage, from here on out you can expect some incredible performances from a wide range of artists included in ‘Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective’.

I really can’t emphasize enough the fact that the music used in the documentary barely scratches the surface of the Mountain Stage archives. With over 1,200 artists and 2,000 hours of live performance radio, an hour-long documentary couldn’t ever do the show’s history due justice. But never fear: soon enough the full vault will be available to the public. In the meantime, Mountain Stage could use some help in making that possible.

The Fabulous Twister Sisters – “Look What I Do To You”

After appearing on the show’s first episode in December 1983, Deni Bonet and Julie Adams were recruited rather quickly to have reoccurring role on Mountain Stage as The Fabulous Twister Sisters. With an incredible pop-based sensibility, The Twisted Sisters twisted their vocals around one another for a sound all their own. Here they are performing together on Mountain Stage’s first regular broadcast in December 1983.

Hot Rize – “Radio Boogie”


There’s arguably no other musician who has played Mountain Stage that’s been a bigger champion and ambassador for the show as Wheeling, West Virginia native Tim O’Brien. Mountain Stage jumped quickly at the chance to feature his nationally recognized bluegrass group Hot Rize when O’Brien’s mother wrote a letter to the show asking to have him on. Hot Rize’s appearance helped take the show to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina in June 1985, which was the first time Mountain Stage was broadcast nationally via NPR. 

Hot Rize – "Radio Boogie"

Kathy Mattea – “Love at the Five and Dime”

Country music star and West Virginia native Kathy Mattea first appeared on Mountain Stage in 1985 as a then-unknown. By the time she came on a second time in April 1986, the trajectory of her own career and Mountain Stage’s popularity were already headed straight up. Here’s Mattea performing on the show in San Diego at the Public Radio Program Director’s Conference.

Kathy Mattea – "Love at the Five and Dime"

Stark Raven – “Can’t Go Back”

As the Mountain Stage band began to solidify its lineup in the mid-’80s, the show recruited musicians from locally revered band Stark Raven, which included Bonet and Adams. Drummer Ammed Solomon, bassist John Kessler, and guitarist Ron Sowell of the band were all added very early on to the mix. Here they are performing a song by Steve Goodman as one of the featured acts on Mountain Stage in April 1984. Members of Stark Raven reunited for the Mountain Stage’s 30th anniversary celebration in December.


Credit Amos Perrine / nodepression.com

Stark Raven – "Can't Go Back"

Townes Van Zandt –  “If I Needed You”


Townes Van Zandt signs the wall backstage at the Capitol Plaza Theater while Guy Clark looks on. The two performed on Mountain Stage together in 1987 and again in 1991.

There’s pretty much nothing that can be said to fully describe the emotional heft of this performance by Townes Van Zandt on Mountain Stage. Just listen.

Townes Van Zandt – "If I Needed You"

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.