Larry Groce: 'Mountain Stage' host reflects on West Virginia
The following sentiments were spoken by Larry Groce, host and artistic director of the "Mountain Stage" live music show that is aired on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The show celebrated its 30th anniversary on Dec. 1. Groce spoke these words right before he introduced the final song of the live performance.
These comments have been edited. To hear the entire commentary, visit www.mountainstage.org and click the Watch the "Mountain Stage 30th Anniversary" show link.
As we end this 30th birthday show, I'd like to say a few words about "Mountain Stage," which is my custom every 30 years.
First, a few words about West Virginia: In the beginning, geography led the majority of settlers around this rugged area that became the Mountain State. Only the sturdiest, most stubborn, least concerned with personal wealth and most concerned with individual freedom chose to live here. For many, success equaled survival. That spirit may have been tempered over the years, but it hasn't been eliminated.
The late Senator Robert C. Byrd often said "West Virginia is the most southern of the northern; the most northern of the southern; the most eastern of the western; and the most western of the eastern states. It's where the east says "good morning" to the west, and where Yankee Doodle and Dixie kiss each other goodnight."
It's not a place accurately described by statistics. West Virginia is anecdotal. You can find the most common stereotypes here if you search hard enough, but they don't make up the vast majority of the population. In my 41 years of observation, I'd say West Virginians might value the relationships of friends and family above all else.
I hope "Mountain Stage" has reflected this place:
The love of friends and family;
The "live and let live" respect for others;
The humility of purpose;
And, the appreciation of face-to-face interaction between people.
We're very grateful to have a small, hard-working team who produce this show. You hear their names in the end credits -- a few are full time, many work mainly on show day. We're also grateful to others at West Virginia Public Broadcasting whose work allows us to exist. This year we've indulged in the luxury of retrospection, something we can seldom afford, and found that we've evolved over the past 30 years. We'll no doubt continue to do that as long as we're here.
"Mountain Stage" is now called a legacy show on public radio. That means we're old. But age is relative. Our present executive producer, Adam Harris, was one year old when this show went on the air and he's not the youngest member of our team. Yes, age is relative.
Oscar Wilde said, "The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young."
Of course he also said, "To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable."
We have many people to thank for our still being around to celebrate this birthday, too many to name, but here are a few:
Our production team and all those who've been a part of it over the years;
All the artists who've performed on the show;
West Virginia Public Broadcasting (which operates West Virginia Public Radio, West Virginia PBS, our website, and our other digital properties);
The state, its governors, legislators and the people of West Virginia;
NPR, PRI, Voice of America and all the stations that carry us, and have carried us;
Everyone who's come to the show;
And, of course, listeners like you -- who've tuned in since the beginning -- who want to hear music of many styles performed live.
We thank you so much.