Mountain Stage at 30: Songs From the Doc (Part Seven)
Mountain Stage's 30th anniversary season was certainly one for the books. While some might think this year's stellar roster of artists is extraordinary in some sense, the truth of the matter is that the impressive list of musicians that Larry Groce and the Mountain Stage crew put together sticks pretty closely to what the show has been targeting since its inception.
For their big 3-0, Mountain Stage stuck with their tried and true for formula of mixing world renowned talent with emerging artists for a year's worth of music that spans the gamut--rock, country, indie, blues, and then some--virtually everything found its way on Mountain Stage.
It pains me a bit to say goodbye to the 'Songs From the Doc' series. But, 'Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective' will certainly have some shelf live of its own.
Now, do your part and help Mountain Stage digitize and release their entire archive of 2,000+ hours of live performance radio.
Robert Earl Keen - "I Gotta Go"
Keen is one of those great songwriters in that, if it weren't for the increasingly saturated nature of music in the 21st century, every one would own one (or all) of his records. His style undoubtedly pulls from his Texas roots and mixes While Keen's was featured on the show as early as 1989, his music remains so relevant I can't think of a better choice for a headliner to kick off the show's 30 season.
Kathy Mattea - "Coal Tattoo"
Kathy Mattea is such an incredibly warm and friendly person that Mountain Stage web coordinator Josh Saul and I refer to her in casual conversation as "Aunt Kathy". (Aunt Kathy--if you're out there reading this and are bothered by it, please let us know and we will stop.)
Returning to Mountain Stage for their 30th season, Mattea performed a set highlighted by her latest record Calling Me Home. It was her captivating rendition of Billy Edd Wheeler's "Coal Tattoo" that made the cut for the documentary.
Jason Isbell - "Flying Over Water"
Alabaman Jason Isbell first made a name for himself as a guitarist and songwriter for Drive-By Truckers in the early 2000s. Since then, his solo career has skyrocketed, particularly with the release of his latest album, Southeastern.
As Isbell told me for the documentary, playing Mountain Stage affords him the opportunity to "preach to somebody besides the choir."
Ben Sollee - "Whole Lot to Give"
“There’s not a path through the woods of the music industry for a signing cellist. That’s very, very true," Sollee told me when I interviewed him for the documentary.
"But, when I come on Mountain Stage I feel like there is an opportunity to connect with a community that is very accepting, that has an open mind as to what music can be."
Simply put: he nailed it with those words. It's almost as if artists like Sollee and Mountain Stage have figured out how to feed off of one another but keep a unique identity.
If you've never heard Mr. Sollee, do yourself a favor and start here. But I'll warn you: his potential and musical ability cannot be limited to just this. Dig deeper. You can thank me later.
Dawes - "Most People"
Ask Larry Groce what he thinks about the L.A.-based rock band Dawes and he's likely to begin by mentioning the song "A Little Bit of Everything". While that song comes from the group's sophomore record Nothing is Wrong, they have maintained their ability to craft timeless rock-drive song like the song "Most People" from their latest release, Stories Don't End.