Before hitting the road, Mountain Stage brings star-studded lineup to Charleston – with photo and video gallery

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mountain Stage – public radio’s premier live music-performance program – on Sunday, recorded what will be their final show at Charleston’s Culture Center Theatre until November.

Founded in 1983 by WV Music Hall of Famer Larry Groce – who served as the show’s host for some 38 years – Mountain Stage has recorded more than 1,000 episodes featuring an eclectic range of performances from both music-industry legends and emerging artists. Kathy Mattea assumed hosting-duties from Groce in 2021.

While Mountain Stage makes its home at the Culture Center in Charleston, each episode of the program is recorded live at venues all across the United States. 

The program recorded on Sunday will be broadcast during the weekend of October 7, as part of Mountain Stage’s “fall season.”

Kathy Mattea and The Mountain Stage Band perform the opening theme, “A Simple Song,” during the Mountain Stage recording at Charleston’s Culture Center Theatre on June 25. Opening announcements delivered by Adam Harris. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

Upright bassist, singer, and songwriter Melissa Carper opened the show. Described by Rolling Stone Country as sounding “like a voice from a bygone era,” and by NPR as being “not unlike Loretta Lynn,” Carper will be bringing her toe-tapping rhythms at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on July 12.

Next to perform was The Jennifer Hartswick Band. As both a trumpeter and vocalist, Hartswick has performed with legends the likes of Herbie Hancock, The Rolling Stones, Phish, Tom Petty, Aaron Neville, and Carlos Santana. After the recording of Mountain Stage had concluded, The Jennifer Hartswick Band took part in the aftershow at the Empty Glass in Charleston.

Following Hartswick was singer, songwriter, and cellist Gabriel Royal – who borrowed a cello from a member of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra after his was damaged during travel. Royal got his start by playing music in the subways of New York City, before moving on to sold out performances around the world.

Five-time Grammy Award nominee Maria Muldaur, whose 1973 smash hit, “Midnight at the Oasis,” was nominated for Song of the Year, was next to the stage. In 2019, Muldaur’s 60-year-career was immortalized when the hero of roots music received the “Lifetime Achievement Americana Trailblazer Award” from American Music Association.

Gabriel Royal performs during the Mountain Stage recording at Charleston’s Culture Center Theatre on June 25. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

The evening’s final performance was a blues-infused assortment of feel-good jazz from The John Pizzarelli Trio. Pizzarelli – himself a Grammy Award winning guitarist and vocalist – released his latest album, “Stage and Screen,” on April 21.

The John Pizzarelli Trio performs during the Mountain Stage recording at Charleston’s Culture Center Theatre on June 25. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

Mountain Stage is expected to return to the Culture Center Theatre in November in celebration of the program’s 40th anniversary.

Before that, Mountain Stage will be back in West Virginia for a performance at The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center in Clarksburg on Sept. 27. Scheduled artists include Tony Trischka’s EarlJam, The Jason Carter Band, and The Watson Twins. And on November 18, Mountain Stage will be recording a special program with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the Clay Center in Charleston.

Additional Mountain Stage performance-recordings will take place at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, California, on Aug. 6, The Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee, on Set. 23 and 24, and the Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Oct. 1.

To listen to or stream Mountain Stage broadcasts, or for ticket information, visit

The John Pizzarelli Trio, Melissa Carper, The Jennifer Hartswick Band, Kathy Mattea, and the Mountain Stage Band perform the shows closing number, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” on June 25. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

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