WATCH LIVE: Mountain Stage This Sunday with River Whyless, Neal Francis, Margaret Glaspy and More
Tickets for this Sunday's "Mountain Stage" show are still available here. However, you also have the option to 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 West Virginia Public Broadcasting and our colleagues at NPR Music's LiveSessions. Anyone who would like to watch the stream, and support the show in the process, can purchase a donation-based “Pay What you Wish” Ticket via Eventbrite.” We ask that in-person attendees remain masked throughout the duration of the performance. As always, we sincerely appreciate everyone’s cooperation in keeping each other safe.
We are excited to welcome modern folk-rock syndicate River Whyless, NYC-based singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy, alongside jazz-tinged vintage pop singer Kat Edmonson, rising star and keyboard rock n roller Neal Francis, and Haitian roots group Lakou Mizik.
Below is a snapshot of each act as well as a few videos to get you acquainted with these world-class artists. Whether in-person, or via the live stream, we hope you’ll join us this Sunday for another exciting edition of Mountain Stage, live performance radio from the Mountain State of West Virginia.
For many bands, and especially those who’ve been together for several years, recognizing maturation, progress or palpable evolution is a daunting task. Is it continued creative accomplishment that signals progression? Or perhaps it’s profitable commercial endeavors? The answer is often quite unclear.
Six years, two albums and countless gigs after first forming as a band, River Whyless, the North Carolina-bred folk-rock outfit has discovered their evolution is a subtler albeit monumentally important one. Deep in the throes of writing and recording their bold new album, Kindness, A Rebel , the four musicians reached a necessary and collective understanding. Namely: this band is their lifeblood, their family and their love.
On his new album In Plain Sight, Neal Francis offers up a body of work both strangely enchanted and painfully self-aware, unfolding in songs sparked from Greek myths and frenzied dreams and late-night drives in the depths of summer delirium. True to its charmed complexity, the singer/songwriter/pianist’s second full-length came to life over the course of a tumultuous year spent living in a possibly haunted church in Chicago. The result: a portrait of profound upheaval and weary resilience, presented in a kaleidoscopic sound that’s endlessly absorbing.
The follow-up to Francis’s 2019 debut Changes—a New Orleans-R&B-leaning effort that landed on best-of-the-year lists from the likes of KCRW, KEXP, and The Current, and saw him hailed as “the reincarnation of Allen Toussaint” by BBC Radio 6—In Plain Sight was written and recorded almost entirely at the church, a now-defunct congregation called St. Peter’s UCC. Despite not identifying as religious, Francis took a music-ministry job at the church in 2017 at the suggestion of a friend. After breaking up with his longtime girlfriend while on tour in fall 2019, he returned to his hometown and found himself with no place to stay, then headed to St. Peter’s and asked to move into the parsonage. “I thought I’d only stay a few months but it turned into over a year, and I knew I had to do something to take advantage of this miraculous gift of a situation,” he says.
Coming home after nearly three years on the road in support of her 2016 debut album Emotions and Math and the 2018 follow-up EP Born Yesterday, Glaspy was eager to challenge herself as an artist and start to make a new album with a clean aesthetic slate. Her bold experimentation has paid off, with tunes that are her most melodically confident, rhythmically compelling, and often incredibly romantic. The arrangements are unexpectedly lush at times, especially on the torchy “Heartbreak,” and often boast an impressive groove, on such tracks as “You’ve Got My Number” and the title song, “Devotion.” Glaspy announces her radical approach at the very start of Devotion, where digitally altered voices serve as the prelude to “Killing What Keeps Us Alive,” and she fills the album with surprising sonic touches, right up to the haunting electronics-and-voice soundscape of album closer “Consequence.”
Raised on the music and film of the early-to-mid-twentieth century, Kat is a rare artist who embodies the spirit of the past while remaining resolutely au courant. She performs original songs and familair classics in her live show, interweaving humorous anecdotes, philosophical musings, and her love of film with disarming candor and vulnerability. Her longtime band members’ keen and sensitive accompaniment allows Kat to freely veer off-script as she’s often inclined to do.
Lakou Mizik is a powerhouse collective of Haitian roots music with a soulful energy and a mix of styles that feels mystical and familiar at the same time. In the wake of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the band came together to show the world that their country was much more than the sum of headlines that were being shot around the globe.
Today with their positive messages and roots revival music, they have become one of Haiti’s hottest exports and have gained an international following with their critically acclaimed debut album “Wa Di Yo” and their mystical, soulful, dance party inducing live shows.