Big news last week for one of the few nationally-syndicated television programs that regularly features live bluegrass music. Song of the Mountains, produced this past 18 years in Marion, VA, was awarded a grant of $120,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.
The stated purpose of this cash award is to help the series pay the booking fees for top line acts to appear on the show. Song of the Mountains is recorded on video as a live concert with multiple artists, and then edited into segments for airing the following season on 190 PBS affiliate stations around the country.
Hosted by Tim White, a popular performer, entertainer, and radio host in western Virginia and east Tennessee, the show has long been hampered by the difficulty of financing these concerts outside a major population center. Despite the loyal support of the town of Marion and Marion Bank, along with a number of other long term underwriters, White has regularly found himself with hat in hand, attempting to keep the show on the air, especially during the COVID shutdowns.
He tells us that these fundraising efforts are made more difficult by an assumption that since the show is nationally syndicated, resources are available from PBS.
“Song of the Mountains is starting season 19 on February 4. For 18 seasons we have survived on a shoestring budget. Many folks mistakenly think we are funded by PBS, but that’s not the case. We must raise our own dollars to make this happen.
We are a nonprofit 501c3, and depend on generous tax deductible donations from viewers and underwriters. This recent grant is a matching grant so any donations are much needed and appreciated.
Info on how to donate is at our website. Please support us in ‘Keeping the Music Alive.'”
For those unfamiliar with the term, a matching grant means that the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will donate dollar-for-dollar the amount that Song of the Mountains is able to raise, up to $120,000.
Nearly every top bluegrass band and artist has appeared on the show over the past 18 years, filmed before a live audience with high quality audio and video. In addition to providing enjoyment to dedicated fans of bluegrass music, the program serves as a tremendous outreach to potential new music lovers.
The history of Song of the Mountains is told in this brief mini-documentary.
As White has said many times, if everyone who enjoys Song of the Mountains on their local PBS station or cable/satellite provider would make a small donation of $10, most of their financial worries would be over. Many folks think that such a small contribution wouldn’t make a difference, but it certainly does.
Tax deductible donations of any size can be sent to Song of the Mountains at this address: Song of the Mountains P.O. Box 304 Marion, VA 24354.
Tickets for the live concerts are also available from the web site.
Here’s to another 18 years!