Mountain Stage at 30: Songs From the Doc (Part Six)
I'm sad to report that this sixth 'Songs From the Doc' post marks the penultimate in the series that documents the music used in 'Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective'. It's been a lot of fun putting these posts together and being able to share the music that's help shape the history and identity of the show.
But never fear, dear music lovers, these last two post are certainly on par with their predecessors. There's also the forthcoming Mountain Stage Digital Archive Project that'll give the world access to over 2,000 hours of live performance radio. Until that project sees the light of day, enjoy these songs from the doc.
Mavis Staples - "I'll Take You There"
Mountain Stage kicked off their 28th season in grand fashion by traveling across the pond to Glasgow, Scotland. Although the show had been presented in Canada and had been presented around the world via the Voice of America, the trip to Scotland mark the first and (at least to date) only the time had left North America.
On the bill was longtime friend Tim O'Brien, his sister Mollie and her husband Rich Moore, Dougie MacLean, Joy Kills Sorrow, and the legendary Mavis Staples.
Here's Staples belting out one of the many R&B/Gospel classics first recorded with her family band, The Staples Singers.
Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, & Edgar Meyer - "Bubbles"
Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck has appeared on Mountain Stage as a member of a wide swath of projects, as band leader of the jazz fusion/progressive bluegrass outfit The Flecktones, as a duo with his wife Abagail Washburn, with her project the Sparrow Quartet, as well as with bluegrass supergroup New Grass Revival. In May 2011, Fleck teamed up with bassist Edgar Meyer and tabla guru Zakir Hussain for a performance that proves how diverse and impeccable his talent truly is. The project, marked by the recording The Melody of Rhythm, is the intersection of Eastern and Western styles of music and is both ethereal and corporeal simultaneously.
Tim O'Brien - "Workin'"
It's safe to say the blue collar ethic West Virginia is known for is deeply rooted in the way Mountain Stage operates. Not surprisingly, West Virginia native Tim O'Brien found a way to perfectly distil that ethic into song. Here's a video produced by Mountain Stage web coordinator Josh Saul that ties all of that together.
Larry Groce & The Mountain Stage Band - "Simple Song" (Live from Fairbanks, Alaska)
"Simple Song" has opened Mountain Stage for more than two decades now and its Larry Groce-penned lyrics have warmed up radio audiences around the world through one very to-the-point message:
"The world is turning around a simple song."
While audiences around West Virginia get to enjoy two takes of the theme (one for Francis Fisher's ears to approve and the other a signal that the show is rolling), crowds elsewhere usually only get to hear one take.
One of the audiences that only got to hear one go-through was the crowd in Fairbanks, Alaska in August 2012. In speaking to Lori Neufeld of KUAC for the documentary, she said sometimes the audience takes it for granted that the theme song is performed live. In this version of "Simple Song" recorded in Fairbanks, you can truly tell the audience's excitement to hear the theme and their realization of what's coming next.
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.