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Mountain Stage is a two-hour music radio show, first aired in 1983, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed worldwide by National Public Radio (NPR). Hosted by Larry Groce, the program showcases diverse music, from the traditional to modern. It is recorded before a live audience, usually at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, West Virginia, but occasionally travels to other venues elsewhere in the United States. Major private funding is provided by the West Virginia-based law firm of Bailey & Glasser LLP, the Charleston WV Convention & Visitors Bureau and Wild, Wonderful West Virginia (West Virginia Division of Tourism).
|Running time||Two hours|
|Country of origin||USA|
|Home station||West Virginia Public Broadcasting|
|Created by||Andy Ridenour, Francis Fisher, Larry Groce|
|Executive producer(s)||Adam Harris|
|Original release||1983 – present|
|Opening theme||"Simple Song", by Larry Groce|
Created by Andy Ridenour, Larry Groce and Francis Fisher, Mountain Stage originally aired in 1983. In December 2013, the show recorded its 750th episode. All three founders continued in their original roles until 2011, when Executive Producer Ridenour retired after 28 years. Mountain Stage is now produced by Adam Harris, who began working for the show in 2005 as an unpaid intern. Each year 26 two-hour episodes are produced. Most are recorded at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, West Virginia; however, the show has traveled to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ashland, Kentucky, Athens, Georgia, Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia, Winnipeg Folk Festival (Canada), Kerrville Folk Festival (Texas) and Fairbanks, Alaska.
In 2003 a coffee-table style book, "20 Years of Mountain Stage", was published in honor of the radio show's 20th Anniversary.
Between 2001-2003, Mountain Stage taped thirty-nine episodes of a nationally syndicated television series for public television. In 2007, an additional series of nine, one-hour specials, filmed in high-definition, were also recorded for public television. The TV series featured John Pizzarelli, John Mayall, Richard Thompson, Nanci Griffith, The Holmes Brothers, Odetta, Arlo Guthrie & the Guthrie Family Legacy, Martina McBride, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Yonder Mountain String Band, John Hammond and Jorma Kaukonen.
Mountain Stage began its 28th season in Glasgow, Scotland as part of the 2011 Celtic Connections Festival. Its 750th show was recorded in September, 2011, at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Episode 800 was recorded in 2013 with Dawes, Ani DiFranco, Dave Mason and Red Baraat.
The show recorded episode 900 in July 2017 with Steve Earle & The Dukes, The Mastersons, The Sherman Holmes Project, Steelism and WV storyteller Bil Lepp.
Mountain Stage has welcomed five Guest Hosts since 2014, beginning with Grammy-winning musician Tim O'Brien, former Assistant Producer Joni Deutsch, who guest-hosted twice, WV Singer-Songwriter Todd Burge, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Conor Knighton, and Tony Award winner and WV native Michael Cerveris.
The radio show begins with its theme, "Simple Song", written and performed by host Larry Groce. Groce, who also serves as artistic director, believes that all music is related, so the program showcases diverse music, from the traditional to the brand new, including roots music to indie rock and jazz. Usually, five musical guests will appear on any given show.
Among the luminaries who appeared on Mountain Stage before they were famous or whose first national-exposure in the US on Mountain Stage are Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, Crash Test Dummies, Barenaked Ladies, Ben Harper, Paula Cole, Nickel Creek, Cassandra Wilson, Counting Crows, Phish and R.E.M., which is the band that gave Mountain Stage its first national exposure.
Over the years, the show has featured such international luminaries as Phish, Barenaked Ladies, Galactic, Bruce Hornsby, the Derek Trucks Band, Chris Thile, Bell X-1, Judy Collins, They Might Be Giants, Norah Jones, Hubert Sumlin & Pinetop Perkins, Charles Brown, Martina McBride, Little Big Town, Amos Lee, Joan Baez, Jakob Dylan and Regina Spektor, as well as Kathy Mattea, Tim O'Brien and over a hundred West Virginia artists.
Mountain Stage is heard on over 200 NPR stations nationwide. The full-length show is available for download on the Mountain Stage podcast. Select guest artist segments, including songs not heard on the radio, are posted at the NPR Music website.
Twenty-seven albums compiling live performances from the Mountain Stage series have also been released on Blue Plate Records, a division of Oh Boy! Records, and are still available through Amazon.com.
In 2008, NPR signed an exclusive on-line distribution deal with Mountain Stage.