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Great crowd turns out for diverse acts on Mountain Stage

Nov. 09, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Cue up the Willie Nelson because Mountain Stage was on the road again, and thankfully it was right into the heart of our town.

A crowd of more than 1,100 packed into the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center last Sunday night to see a diverse bill that included Nellie McKay, the Mountain Goats, Dr. Dog, Spirit Family Reunion and Red Wanting Blue.

At the start of the show, producer Adam Harris gave a nod to the show's visionary artistic director and host Larry Groce, who has been the host of all 780 episodes of Mountain Stage, the eclectic live music show heard weekly 'round the world on NPR and Voice of America.

I talked with Harris earlier this week and he said they were ecstatic with the crowd turnout. It was more than double (the Culture Center seats 460) the number of folks they can stuff into their homebase in Charleston.

Groce mentioned it from the stage, and Harris, too, talked about the beauty of the diversity of the bill and the crowd, which included such feverish Mountain Goats fans as Charleston attorney Danny Cline.

"We like all the shows but I felt like everything worked great Sunday," Harris said. "It was a great crowd, a great venue, an excited student population and just a lot of different kinds of people."

Harris said they hope to be able to make the trip to Huntington an annual thing as Mountain Stage, which is contracted for six shows a year in Morgantown, is making a road-trip circle of college towns such as Athens, Ga., and Athens, Ohio, to turn on new generations to the positive power of NPR and Mountain Stage.

"As we go into our 30th season next year there is also a little demand to be back at home, so there is a delicate balance of being on the road enough and being on the road too much," Harris said.

For folks wanting to tune into the great show, which featured a grand finale of the Rolling Stones "Can't Always Get What You Want," (which is not heard on the broadcast, the two-hour radio show will be broadcast on NPR in mid December.

In the meantime, there's no rest for Mountain Stage as the show is in Morgantown on Sunday, Nov. 11.

The next two chances to see the live tapings in Charleston include two shows that bookend Thanksgiving. Bruce Cockburn is back at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Culture Center Theater with Iris Dement, Brooke Waggoner, Trixie Whitley and Carrie Rodriguez.

And Dec. 9, you can get a sweet double-shot of contemporary blues as powerhouse vocalist Shemekia Copeland and Robert Cray are on a bill that also includes Kelly Hogan and other artists TBA.

In the meantime, you can log onto www.mountainstage.org for more info.

They write the songs

Of late, I've dipped back into my stash of Roger Miller and Tom T. Hall, and boy they aren't making any more songwriters in country music like those two.

Props to Olive Hill, Ky., native Hall, who was just honored as a BMI Icon for his decades long songwriting career that continues. Hall and his wife Dixie continue to make a profound impact on bluegrass music as well.

Hall was honored at the recent 60th annual BMI Country Awards at the company's Nashville office.

Speaking of amazing country songwriters, they don't come much better than Dean Dillon, who has written practically any great song George Strait has knocked out of the park.

Dillon is making a return to Callihan's Pub and Grill over at the KYOVA Mall at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.

It's very limited seating, and the show will kick off at 7 p.m. with Dillon's good friends and the local songwriting couple, Steve and Carla Hunter. Keith Murray takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance, and the show will sell out.

And this Saturday, Callihan's has reeled in another favorite from earlier this year, the Boatmen out of Beckley. They're playing 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Nov. 10. Cover is $7.

Roll out for a couple cool fundraisers

It's always good to hear some great music for a good cause. There are a couple musical fundraisers slotted up for the weekend raising money for our Roller Derby team as well as Arts Resources for the Tri-State.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, The 1937 Flood, comically tagged of late as Huntington's original boy band, brings it swinging string band sound to the stage of the ARTS Ballroom as a benefit for Arts Resources for the Tri-State.

Cover is only a $5 donation at the door, concessions available at the show at Renaissance, which is located at 900 8th St., Huntington (the old Huntington High School).

Find out more about the band which has been fiddling around since the 1970s at www.1937flood.com.

Also on the Southside, the all-ages house venue, Funky Towne, is set for an 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 fundraiser for the Jewel City Rollergirls that features a diverse lineup of comedian Ian Nolte (who anchors down the Black Sheep's comedy nights), as well as music by Charleston hip hop kings, the Dinosaur Burps, and energetic rock by Sweatband and My City!

Cover is also a $5 donation (or more) at the door with all funds going to Huntington's own Roller Derby team.

Dave Lavender writes about music for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at lavender@herald-dispatch.com.