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For more than 30 years, Mountain Stage with Larry Groce has been the home of live music on public radio. Produced by West Virginia Public broadcasting and distributed by NPR Music, each two hour episode of Mountain Stage can be heard every week on more than 240 stations across America, and around the world via NPR Music and mountainstage.org.

Watch Live: North Miss. Allstars, Cedric Burnside, and more on Mountain Stage This Sunday

North Mississippi Allstars
Wyatt McSpadden
Cody & Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars

This Sunday’s recording of Mountain Stage, with Larry Groce back at the hosting microphone, is sold out at 50% capacity but you can watch from wherever you are at MountainStage.org or LiveSessions.NPR.org when the show streams live Sunday night at 7 p.m. EST. This free stream is provided by the video production department at WVPB and our colleagues at LiveSessions, but anyone who wishes to support the show can purchase a Pay What you Wish Ticket via Eventbrite.

Tickets often become available on show-day so anyone who wishes to attend the live show at the Culture Center Theater should show up around 5 p.m. when the lobby doors open to inquire about available tickets. We are asking audience members to remain masked throughout the duration of the performance and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation in keeping each other safe.

We have a show steeped in blues traditions, with modern and classic sounds abound. Legendary hill-country preservationists North Mississippi Allstars, featuring brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson, will be back with us. Another descendant of hill-country royalty, Cedric Burnside, will make his first appearance on Mountain Stage, touring in support of his album I Be Trying.

We will also hear from jazzy singer songwriter Kate Vargas, blues influenced songwriter Jonah Tolchin, and Virginia-based bluesman Corey Harris. Below is a bit of a primer on each guest to get you excited, and whether you’re attending the show this Sunday in #AlmostHeaven or watching from afar, we appreciate the support of our listeners because without you there’d be no Mountain Stage.

In 23 years North Mississippi Allstars have released ten studio albums, three of which were nominated for Blues Album of the Year Grammys. (Luther has notched another four nominations in various categories on top of that.) More importantly, they’ve played countless shows in front of avid crowds, touring alongside Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, Mavis Staples, and John Hiatt, among many others. Says Luther, “I’m grateful to work together as a family—with Cody, the musicians we roll with and the people who support our live shows. Together, we keep this music up and rolling.”

A forgotten roll of film inspired a musical accompaniment, the North Mississippi Allstars’ new record Up and Rolling. Shot before the turn of the century, the photographs resonate with the music of four families from the Mississippi hills. The album captures the communal spirit upon which the band was founded.

Their new album called Set Sail, is due on New West Records in 2022.

Cedric Burnside’s blues inheritance, the North Mississippi Hill Country blues, is distinct from its Delta or Texas counterparts in its commitment to polyrhythmic percussion and its refusal of familiar blues chord progressions. Often, and especially in Burnside’s care, it leads with extended riffs that become sentences or pleas or exclamations, rendering the guitar like its West African antecedent, the talking drum. Riffs disappear behind and become one with the singer’s voice, like the convergence of hill and horizon in the distance. Sometimes they become the only voice, saying what the singer cannot conjure the words for. Across some nine individual and collaborative album projects, Burnside’s voice eases seamlessly into, through, and behind the riffs spirit gifts him, carrying listeners to a deep Mississippi well. There is mirror there in the water of that well, in Burnside’s music, that shows us who and what we have been, who we are, and what we might be if we look and heed. His newest contribution to this tradition is I Be Trying, a 13-track album treatise on life’s challenges, pleasures, and beauty. “Life can go any kind of way,” Burnside says. With almost 30 years of performing and living blues in him, he would know.

I Be Trying – Cedric Burnside

Insurrection Blues is Corey Harris' 20th album overall and first for M.C. Records. Harris continues a blues journey that began with his debut album Between Midnight and Day in 1995. The songs are full topical relevance, yet steeped in tradition and informed by his musical explorations over the decades. Recorded in Italy under shutdown conditions, the album returns to the solo acoustic format that's been his base since his early days as a busker in New Orleans. But you can also hear between the lines traces of the different styles he's absorbed, including the roots music he heard during a year's stay in West Africa.

Afton Mountain Blues – Corey Harris

Kate Vargas has packed houses from Ireland’s Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival to The Troubadour in London, The Mansion on O Street in Washington D.C. to New York’s Bowery Electric. Featuring her singular folk-style storytelling, Vargas’ songs are grounded in a darkly melodic, reverb-washed sonic palette of dreampop, dusty folk and junkyard blues, all carried by rough-hewn vocals and guitar playing. In equal measure, she channels a surprising array of artists, from Tom Waits, Fiona Apple, and 16 Horsepower to Lana Del Rey and K. Flay.

A reformed wild child, in recent years Kate Vargas has traded the party for meditation, yoga, clean eating and a renewed focus on what she values most—her music. The New Mexico-raised, NYC-based artist is building ever more mindfully on her sound, and the music press is taking notice, Vargas receiving praise from a variety of respected outlets including Billboard, NPR, Noisey, and the Huffington Post, the latter assessing, “There is an unlimited amount of potential in this superstar on the rise.”

Her latest is called Rumpumpo.

Rumpumpo –Kate Vargas

Born and raised in central New Jersey, acclaimed singer/songwriter/bluesman Jonah Tolchin released 2019’s Fires For the Cold, which featured bittersweet meditation on loss and redemption with appearances by Jackson Browne,Rickie Lee Jones, and Sara Watkins. 2022 will see the release of his fourth studio album, Lava Lamp.

White Toyota Ranger – Jonah Tolchin

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