The various disagreements and agendas at the root of this summer’s interruption in the tapings of Song Of The Mountains at The Lincoln Theatre appear to be resolved. The Theatre, which had owned the rights to the name of the show, has turned them over to a new non-profit organization, Appalachian Music Heritage Foundation, in an agreement that will separate the Lincoln Theatre Board from the show, but keep its production there at the Theatre.
In the process, Tim White has agreed to return as host, starting with the September taping.
Song Of The Mountains has been a popular program, syndicated nationwide through PBS affiliate stations. Its focus has been live performances of bluegrass, Gospel, and traditional mountain music recorded at the lavishly-restored Lincoln Theatre in Marion, VA. The show had been produced successfully since 2005, until a dispute in May surfaced between the Lincoln’s Board of Directors and White, resulting in the termination of his contract.
The Board then announced that the show would go on hiatus following the August taping, during which time a reorganization committee would look at new directions, including new sources of revenue, a recurring issue for the show.
Subsequently, the show’s TV production company, Horse Archer Productions, dropped out citing their desire to continue working with Tim White, and artists scheduled to appear at tapings in June and August began to cancel. Fortunately, a June show was able to be held, and was taped for editing and eventual broadcast. An August show, headlined by Jim Lauderdale, is set to be taped on August 1.
Joe Ellis, a Marion area businessman who helped found the show with White, and two associates, Sam Russell and Ed Stringer, formed the Appalachian Music Heritage Foundation expressly to assume management of Song Of The Mountains. The brand now resides with the Foundation.
Starting with the September 5 concert, White will be back as host. He told us this morning that he had been able to rearrange artist appearances so that everyone initially booked for this year will be able to appear, and they will be able to deliver all 24 episodes for Season 11 in 2016.
“I’m really tickled that everything worked out. These troubles are behind us, and I’m prepared to work for the benefit of the Lincoln Theatre and Song Of The Mountains. I’m fired up and ready to go another 11 years!”
Season 11 may need to start airing a few months late next year, but a full season will be available for syndicators. Each scheduled taping at The Lincoln can yield up to four episodes of the show, and there will be tapings yet in September, October, November, and December.
White’s opening segments for each program are taped after the concerts are held, so he will be able to appear in each episode for 2016. Viewers who hadn’t followed this dust up and resolution won’t even notice anything different in Season 11.
A donation of $50,000 to The Lincoln Theatre from the Appalachian Music Heritage Foundation is expected to be made when contract details are finalized.