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Deni Bonet to help celebrate 30th anniversary of Mountain Stage

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Feisty fiddler Deni Bonet has performed with Cyndi Lauper on the Great Wall of China, toured the world with Robyn Hitchcock and has played on more famous people's albums that she can count.

But when you start talking about the music that flows nearest to her heart, cue Mountain Stage's "Simple Song" theme song ... "There's a spring in the mountain and it flows down to the town ..."

Bonet, an original member of the Mountain Stage band, is rolling in from New York City this weekend to take part in the 30th anniversary performance of Mountain Stage.

The performance will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1 at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston.

Scheduled guests include Todd Snider, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Diego Garcia and, Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore with special appearances by Bonet and West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.

Advance tickets are $15 and available online, by calling 800-594-TIXX (8499) or visiting Taylor Books at 226 Capitol St., Charleston.

Bonet will play one of her songs, "One In A Million," off of her new CD, "It's All Good," as well as the song, "100 Million Reasons," with her old band, Stark Raven that featured fellow Mountain Stage band members Ron Sowell, Julie Adams and Ammed Solomon, as well as Bob Webb and John Kessler.

Bonet said it's just hard to believe it has been 30 years ago that the show started.

"Thirty years can't be possible. You know I was a child prodigy so I was only 9 years old, maybe I was only seven or something like that. I was very tiny, yeah, we don't mention dates or ages," Bonet said with a laugh. "No, it's really cool to go back."

Bonet, who was around when the show was being built and there when comedy was also part of the live performance radio show.

She and Adams formed what Adams called The Fabulous Twister Sisters, a quirky comedy musical tribe of "Cammy" and "Tammy," two sisters not afraid to don hideous purple cowgirl shirts, black curly wigs and tap shoes and take a mad tapped dash at tunes like "Chattanooga Choo Choo."

"I've always loved the house band and all of those little interludes, that was the stuff that was a lot of fun," Bonet said. "In the beginning we did a comedy bit and that did go by the wayside pretty quickly. Julie and I also in the very beginning when there were only about 10 stations, I guess before it went national, Julie and I in harmony would sing out the call letters of the radio stations and sing 'listener supported public radio.' "

It was in those early days that the Mountain Stage family began creating that kind of warm, homey hospitality that has become its trademark.

Bonet said she'll never forgot walking past the dressing room of a famous country star.

"She had her head upside down and was spraying her hair with hairspray, and I walked back by like 45 minutes later and she still has her head upside down spraying her hair and the whole hallway stunk like no tomorrow," Bonet said laughing.

It was in those early days, with those hallways where you could barely pass, that Bonet, who was fresh out of West Virginia University, cut her musical teeth.

"I got to play with Luka Bloom and Richard Thompson and got to rehearse with them in a room the size of a bathroom," Bonet said. "For me some of the best memories are those rehearsals and that one-on-one stuff with some of those amazing artists. I got to play with Warren Zevon and he used the cut on a record. If an act wasn't planning on using the band, I would just sit by the side of the stage while they were rehearsing and make sad googly eyes until they felt so sorry for me they would let me play with them."

And play with them she did. Bonet parlayed her Mountain Stage contacts into a full-time gig living in two years in England and touring with frequent guest Robyn Hitchcock, and then ultimately playing and touring with a slew of other artists including Cyndi Lauper, with whom she played on the Great Wall of China for a show taped by MTV Asia.

"I give Mountain Stage major cred for allowing me to grow in those early years, and I got to play with some really amazing people who I have reconnected with one way or another over the years," Bonet said. "I have no problem giving them thanks for launching my career, and I would say it launched my career, and that I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time."

Bonet, who has been also releasing solo records since 2001, said recently she's been traveling with various artists as a duo or trio thus running into so many artists who've known her Mountain Stage lineage.

"I've started crossing more paths with people who are in that folk rock, folk pop scene and you mention to them Mountain Stage and their eyes light up because it is like a premiere gig and it really has become a premiere gig," Bonet said. "I tell some people that I used to play on the show and a lot of people are as impressed with that as any of the people I have ever played with and I've played with some really cool people."

Ironically, one of Bonet's lasting legacies with the show may be her, um, art work.

"I did a needlepoint back in the early days when we were still doing needle point and cross stitch and it was still down there a few years ago when I was down there and it says, "It is Live Radio, It is supposed to be Spontaneous. That's maybe the last cross-stitch I ever did."

While Bonet has laid down the stitching needles, she hasn't laid down her torch for loving on her Mountain Stage family.

"I have to say that I really admire the Mountain Stage band as musicians and as people," Bonet said. "I have played with a lot of world-class musicians and they are all right up there. They are as good or better than most people I have come across, but everyone chose their lifestyle and wanted to have that whole life in West Virginia. I think there is something to be said of the way that they've been able to have the white picket fence and the music career which is very rare."

Celebrating 30 Years:

WHAT: 30th anniversary live show celebration of Mountain Stage featuring Todd Snider, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Diego Garcia and, Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore with special appearances by Deni Bonet and West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman

WHAT IS MOUNTAIN STAGE: Began in 1983, Mountain Stage and is one of the longest running live music performance shows on public radio. The program has featured nearly 2,000 acts from more than 50 countries and nearly every conceivable genre for a catalogue of more than 800 shows.

WHERE: Culture Center Theater in Charleston.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Advance tickets are $15 online at www.mountainstage.org and by calling 800-594-TIXX (8499) or visiting Taylor Books at 226 Capitol St., Charleston. If tickets are available the day of the show, they will be $25 at the door.

HEAR THE DOCUMENTARY: "Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective" airs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28; a portion of it will also air at 6 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, (the doc leads into the live broadcast of the show) and at 9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 11 (which is the actual 30th anniversary of the show's first broadcast).

HEAR THE SHOW: The live broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 1 will be heard statewide on West Virginia Public Radio and the live web stream may be accessed worldwide at www.mountainstage.org. The 30th anniversary show is scheduled for broadcast in March 2014.



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