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The People Behind Mountain Stage - Vasilia Scouras and Jeff Shirley

Josh Saul

Mountain Stage is West Virginia's calling card to the world, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting's premier program. On show night, everyone sees Larry Groce, Adam Harris, Julie Adams, Bob Thompson and the other musicians on stage.

But behind the Stage is a small team of people who make sure the tickets get sold, the musicians make it there on time, and everyone gets paid. And two of them went WAY above and beyond in May and June to be our Storyteller Award winners: Vasilia Scouras and Jeff Shirley.

Mountain Stage Executive Producer Adam Harris wrote me this letter explaining everything Vas and Jeff do:

In the world of "Mountain Stage" there are a thousand details to every show we do. Being an associate producer at Mountain Stage is not a glorious job, but Vasilia and Jeff take it seriously and consistently excel at what they do.  The month of May was particularly busy for us, and particularly, for the two of them.

In addition to producing Mountain Stage on May 18, we were also involved in two separate fundraising events for the Mountain Stage Digital Archive Project. The first was "ALL ACCESS," an event we held with support from the Friends of WV Public Broadcasting at the law offices of Farmer, Cline & Campbell.

Larry Groce Bobblehead
Credit Vasilia Scouras / Mountain Stage
Mountain Stage
Larry Groce Bobblehead was one of the gifts at the ALL ACCESS fundraiser.

Vasilia and Jeff were able to put on a stellar event that went off without a hitch. They secured everything we needed: tents, chairs, food for 200 people, and more than a dozen unique auction items.

Vasilia worked closely with the Charleston Brewing Company to develop the flavor profile of the "Mountain Stage Ale," a beer developed and brewed specifically for this event. She also managed all the smallest details, from securing the massive tent, dozens of tables and chairs, lights, and generator to the amazing food from Cafe Cimino.

Jeff was tasked with reaching out to some of our favorite and long-time friends of the show to ask for unique items for an audition. He secured more than a dozen lots, which included autographed memorabilia from Del McCoury, Kathy Mattea, Tim O'Brien and others, as well as a personalized piece of art work by Brett Dennen.

Together, we raised more than $15,000 towards the Mountain Stage Digital Archive Project. We all finally went home about 11 pm on Saturday, only to awake and go about our normal routine of producing our radio show Sunday with five guest artists, a crew of 25 people and a capacity crowd.

On Memorial Day, May 26, Vas, Jeff and myself helped out at the Paul Fox Memorial Golf Tournament, whose organizers generously donated their proceeds towards the Mountain Stage Digital Archive Project. When it came to spending their holiday on a hot golf course in the name of the show, neither Jeff nor Vas ever hesitated for a second, and there was never a single complaint uttered. Through their tireless efforts and mild sun-burn, another $5,000 was donated.

Vasilia and Jeff are always the first to arrive and amongst of the last to leave on any given show day. Producing Mountain Stage means a lot of details: 5 guest artists, 5 rooming lists, 5 dietary restrictions, 5 travel plans, 5 sound-checks, 5 sets of paperwork, 5 performance playlists, and 5 merchandise count-ins/count-outs, not to mention our show-day crew of about 25 individuals.

We do this 26 times a year, in locations from Charleston to Morgantown, Tennessee to Minnesota. Keeping track of it all is no easy task, and pulling it off to meet consistently high standards with no complaints and no excuses, is exceptional. Jeff and Vasilia are exceptional at what they do, and we hear it from our guests who travel for a living. They're always grateful to have helpful, informative and friendly people to work with. I'm proud to be their supervisor. They're the future of Mountain Stage, and we're fortunate to have such dedicated, enthusiastic workers to pull the load.

I can't think of any better representatives for our show, and no better nominees for Public Broadcasting's Storyteller Award.

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