I had the occasion recently to speak at length with Tim White, emcee and co-producer of the popular Song Of The Mountains concert series and television show, aired on 170 PBS affiliates in the United States.
The show originates from Marion, VA at the exquisitely restored Lincoln Theatre, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1929, designed to resemble a Mayan temple. It was reopened in 2004 and is listed as a Virginia Historic Landmark and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
On the first Saturday of each month, a concert is held at the Lincoln, most of which are taped for later broadcast. Four bands appear at each taping, allowing the producers to create 24 episodes each year for distribution to public television.
The first show was taped in July of 2005, and in 2006, its reach grew from a single station (WBRA – Blue Ridge Public television in Roanoke, VA) to 30 stations. Their affiliates are unsurprisingly clustered in the southeastern US, but the show is also quite popular in the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets, and on numerous stations in both the midwest and northwestern states.
The first three seasons have seen some of bluegrass music’s brightest starts and living legends take the Lincoln stage. Rhonda Vincent, Larry Sparks, The Kruger Brothers, Lonesome River Band, Roni Stoneman, Curley Seckler, Steep Canyon Rangers and David Parmley are just a few of the acts who have been featured.
The 2009 season is set to begin in May, and Tim was excited about this year’s lineup. New shows on tap will have live sets from Lost & Found, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Larry Cordle, Beth Stevens, Tom T. Hall, NewFound Road, Donna Ulisse, Mike Seeger, Gold Heart, Cherryholmes and Dale Ann Bradley and several others.
Song Of The Mountains is offered royalty free to member stations and subscribers of the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA). The presenting affiliate is WCVE in Richmond, VA.
The success of the TV show has led to the launch of an annual, three day Song Of The Mountains bluegrass festival, held at the Davis Valley Winery in Rural Retreat, VA in late June.
More details about the show can be found at songofthemountains.org.