WV musicians celebrate album releases
Friday, Oct. 28, Marietta, Ohio’s Peoples Bank Theatre Spotlight Series continues with a concert by songwriter and Mountain Stage Radio Show host Larry Groce, his wife Sandra Groce, and Mid-Ohio Valley singer-songwriter Todd Burge. Both the Groces and Burge are marking the release of new albums with the concert.
Grammy nominee and Mountain Stage host Larry Groce and his wife Sandra Groce, violist with the West Virginia Symphony, have made a new studio recording called “Live Forever.” It includes three of Larry’s original songs and eight covers, mostly songs connected to Mountain Stage over the years. The recording is Groce’s first album in over two decades.
Burge’s new album, “Live from Mountain Stage 2006-2015” includes 17 tracks of original material. Groce has called Burge “West Virginia’s premier songwriter.”
It’s been 27 years since Larry Groce made a recording like “Live Forever.”
Before he helped start the venerable live performance radio program Mountain Stage, he made his living as a singer/songwriter. As his role of artistic director and host increased, he realized, sometime in the mid-eighties, that he was no longer a performer, he was a producer. Although he continued to do shows and write songs, by 1989 the transition was complete. But he never totally stopped singing.
Fast forward to 2015. Mountain Stage guitarist/leader of The Carpenter Ants band, Michael Lipton, and producer/singer/songwriter/bassist Don Dixon (REM, The Red Clay Ramblers, James McMurtry) had been trying to convince Larry to record again for a few years. George Korn, media professor at Ohio University, joined the persuaders. Larry was not convinced until his wife and musical partner, Sandra, made the argument that their two daughters should have a record of mom and dad performing together. That tipped the scales. But he wanted a record that wasn’t just aimed at his girls.
Songs have been the center of Groce’s work on Mountain Stage for the past 33 years. He and Dixon went through many of the classic songs that Larry already knew and picked out the ones that worked best. They also considered some new ones. Then they chose a few of his originals that seemed to fit in the mix. They discovered that almost all had some strong connection to Mountain Stage.
Joining Groce on stage will be long-time friend and frequent Mountain Stage guest, Todd Burge.
Employing wry humor, dexterous guitar work and drawing on a rich variety of life experiences, Burge has emerged as one of West Virginia’s most prolific singer/songwriters.
Burge, has played everything from Alternative Rock (63 Eyes, The Larries) to Contemporary Folk, performing concerts at festivals and in venues as diverse as CBGB, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Kennedy Center and hundreds of clubs, from the obscure, to the world famous Caffe Lena, Club Passim and Music City Roots.
In 2014, Burge wrote 13 songs for a musical adaptation of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” by William Shakespeare, for the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association’s production of the play in Marietta’s Muskingum Park.
Burge, who might be known by many for his method of writing songs from the perspective of odd characters, humans, bugs and animals, released an album of very personal songs in 2015, titled “Imitation Life”. The recording was produced by long term collaborator, Tim O’Brien, an inductee of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and a Grammy winner.
The album includes his original song, “Change (For Clean Water),” which features Kathy Mattea on backing vocals.
His most recent download-only album with video is entitled “Live in Orlando” (2016) and captures the essence of his live solo performance and, at times hilarious storytelling.
At the October 28 concert at Peoples Bank Theatre, Burge will release “Live at Mountain Stage 2006-2015”. The 17-track CD will feature his many performances from the popular NPR radio show and podcast, a couple of which have never been released.
Full event details and ticket information are available online at peoplesbanktheatre.com or by calling the box office at 304-371-5152. Walk-up hours at the box office are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Friday and two hours prior to most performances.
Located at 222 Putnam Street in historic downtown Marietta, Ohio, Peoples Bank Theatre is managed by the nonprofit Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association.
Mountain Stage with Larry Groce will celebrate 33 years of live performance radio when they record episode #885 on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston. Special guests will include Iron & Wine, the recording name of American singer-songwriter Sam Beam. Beam returns to West Virginia after shooting a short-film, “Dreamers and Makers are My Favorite People,” a performance that was shot in 2014 at the Jerry Run Summer Theater in Cleveland, WV . Through the course of five albums, numerous EPs and singles, and the initial volumes of an Archive Series, Iron & Wine has captured the emotion and imagination of listeners with distinctly cinematic songs. His most recent project is an album of duets with Jesca Hoop called “Love Letter For Fire.”
Helping the long-running radio program celebrate will be one of the show’s most frequent guests, Todd Burge, who recently released an entire album of material recorded on Mountain Stage from 2006-2015. The Wood County, WV native will be making his 11th solo appearance on Mountain Stage Dec. 4.
Also scheduled to appear is Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Andy Shauf, whose latest release “The Party” is his debut on ANTI- Records. “The Party” is a “tightly narrated thirty-eight minutes, all set to ornate arrangements of fuzzed-out guitars, string sections, clarinets and dreamy synths, all draped over delicate piano, acoustic guitars and rainy-day drums.”
Tickets will be $30 in advance and $35, if available, at the door. Tickets will be available at MountainStage.org, by phone at 877-987-6487 and at Taylor Books in Downtown, Charleston.