Rick Lang performs Great Stone Face at New Hampshire State House

Councilor Janet Stevens, Councilor Cinde Warmington, Councilor Joseph Kenney, Bob Dick with bass, Governor Sununu, Rick Lang with guitar, Councilor David Wheeler, Councilor Theodore Gatsas – photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

Bluegrass songwriter Rick Lang was invited to perform Great Stone Face at the New Hampshire State House for Governor Sununu on May 3, which was declared to be Old Man of The Mountain Day in the state in honor of the natural stone formation known by that name.

The song, written by Lang and Evan Richert, and performed in a bluegrass style, tells the story of Old Man of The Mountain, a natural granite outcropping on Canon Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest near Plymouth, NH. Viewed from the side, it looked remarkably like the profile of a face from the time it was discovered in the early 19th century until it collapsed in a rock slide on May 3, 2003. Tourists had flocked to the Old Man for years, where both New Hampshirites and visitors from all over the world came to Canon Mountain to see this natural wonder.

The Old Man has also figured prominently in New Hampshire folklore since its discovery, and it was a source of pride for natives and residents ever since.

To commemorate May 3 as Old Man of The Mountain Day, Governor Sununu invited a small number of people to the State House to witness the signing of the declaration, hear stories about the outcropping and poems from New Hampshire students, and to hear Great Stone Face sung live.

Not normally known as a singer, Lang said that performing for the Governor was a bit nerve wracking.

“This was the most high profile performance I’ve ever been asked to do. An opportunity I could not turn down, as it was such an important historic event. Must admit there was lots of anxiety because in attendance was the governor, dignitaries, lots of press and live TV coverage. The song went over really well, received a rousing ovation. So very rewarding, I’m still up on cloud nine! “

Rick’s music video of the studio recording of Great Stone Face, sung by Mountain Heart’s Josh Shilling, was also debuted at this ceremony. Lang is making the track available at no charge from his web site.

Have a look at the video, and hear Great Stone Face for yourself.

Rick Lang has been among bluegrass music’s most popular songwriters for more than a decade. Since retiring from his successful business – he and his wife, Wendy, ran a specialty lumber business – he has focused on “giving back” to the bluegrass community. He has endowed a scholarship for emerging songwriters through the IBMA Foundation, and while over 100 of his songs have been recorded by professional artists, he continues to hire top players and singers to record others, and then give them away online. Truly a servant’s heart.

Special events are continuing throughout the summer at the White Mountain National Forest Park, including a scavenger hunt that runs until August 3. A Legacy Fund has also been established to help preserve the area as a park.


The entire May 3 ceremony was streamed online for all to enjoy, and can be watched after the fact below.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.