Mountain Stage

Review by Grady Moates (Switch to

Just got back from the trip to Mountain Stage. After more than 16 years in public radio, and after having failed to get Todd on another independent producer's public TV show (CD Highway), I had to be there for his first public radio/TV performance. . . (at least, the first one I'm aware of)

Here's the info:

First, to fill the information void about broadcast. . . It will be uplinked to Public Radio International affiliates (and non-affiliates who contract to carry the show) the week of April 4th. It was also recorded on video, and will be made into at least two TV specials.

I was fortunate enough to have a contact in the Mountain Stage (MS) organization, and got a 'stage crew' pass and the run of the place from 1.5 hours before showtime until 1 hour after. The MS folks are a great bunch, and have exactly the right mind-set to interact with Todd, as you will see.


I got to see TR's sound check, as well as the practice session for the 'everybody join in' song they always do at the end of the show. I forgot to actually list the tunes as he did them, so the ones with an asterisk are the ones I think I remember, the ones with the exclamation points are the ones I'm sure of.

==piano first
some of Compassion ! some of Hello, It's Me * some of Can We Still Be Friends * ==guitar some of Love of the Common Man * (request from Francis Fisher in the basement radio-mix studio, "can we hear some electric guitar, if you're going to play some?" Todd answers, "I probably won't do it, but you can hear it.") some of # 1 Lowest Common Denominator ! some of West Virginia Gals ! ==ukulele check, no vocals ==read 3 times through the promo script ==ending tune with all musicians present some of Beatles "Taxman", several times through ending the phrases in the second verse with "Taxman Mr. Cheney" and Taxmaaan, Mr. Bush" (very funny) Todd suggests that they have an actual ending, rather than fading out forever, and suggests an actual arrangement for the ending, some jokes are made about 'who do you think you are, a producer?' but they do it Todd's way

==The Show==

Starts a little late at 6:10 -- 'One of the World's Best slide guitar players, from Louisiana, Sonny Landreth'. there's a tech problem with his amp and it's connection to the sound system, it takes 4 minutes to fix. He does 4 tunes, and is really fine. If you like slide, you'll love this on the radio show.

6:34 -- House band, with Julie Adams, MS's regular vocalist, performing I Don't Know Why. What a great voice she's got. shades of Broadway, jazz and gospel, great intonation, smooth delivery, great swing.

6:40 -- Steven Fearing, from Vancouver, British Columbia. great performance, funny patter reminiscent of Todd's comments in the TEPTAE video, 'most love songs are really about, "I wish I was. . . I'll Never Be. . . I am, you're not"

6:55 -- Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Code Talkers. Straight-ahead, high energy, once again, a fine set.

7:18 -- Steve Forbert from Meridian, MS, same town as Jimmie Rogers. He ends up doing a Jimmie Rogers cover, which he flubs and has to start 3 times before getting it right. . . the audience is now primed for a typical TR solo show (c; Steve gets a real laugh when he observes, after the JR tune, that everyone listening on the radio to the edited show is gonna wonder why there's applause mid-way through the song. Steve's performance is great, really moving the show along and raising the energy level for what's to come. Steve did about 6 tunes.

7:40 -- Richard X. Hayman with bassist and drummer do a really tight pop-rock set of 4 tunes, wearing English style coats from the '60's, very cool. His drummer slung his headphones off mid-way through the first tune, and the monitor mix engineer had to go on stage and put them back on him, so that he didn't have to stop playing.

7:58 -- MS's resident pianist performs a beautiful rendition of "Spring Is Here".

8:06 -- TODD!! (Larry's intro for Todd is VERY respectful, mentioning his work in fields of endeavor other than music) ==guitar first Love of the Common Man (high note vocal problems) Cliche (show stops while the stage crew fix a tech problem. . . Todd asks them what's wrong, they mumble something, and Todd says, "Mono? We can't have Mono! Do we give them half their money back?" crowd roars. 2 verses of West Virginia Gals (one verse off-mic, while they're fixing the technical problem, gets an incredible response, sounds like the roof will come down with the clapping, shouting and whistling; another verse on-mic after the repair, stops and asks, "is it fixed?" crowd goes wild. Lysistrata (moves off-mike for the high notes he has trouble with) "I'm not sure how much longer I have, I'll just keep playing 'til someone shoots me." I Don't Want To Tie You Down (nails it) Hammer In My Heart ==piano Can We Still Be Friend (nails it again) Viking Song (nails it again) Hello, It's Me (starts 3 times, apologizes for the flubs, says something like, 'I always have trouble with it right here, but I knew you'd all be anxious to hear me play it.' ==ukulele Bang The Drum (audience loves it) ==guitar audience members shout, "Play All Night", "We Love You"; Todd answers, "I don't pay the bills around here!" gets another great laugh. LOTCM again Cliche again (to replace the ones marred by the tech problem at the beginning) One World, flatbox guitar, electric effects. TR ends set at around 8:50

==ALL musicians return for: TaxMan (with Todd's ending)

=====General Comments=====

This was a great line-up of musicians and music, covering many different genres, each one complementing and setting up the next. Todd is in great company here. As has been observed before, Todd's performances are usually much better when he's working with other professional musicians, and there 'ain't none' much more professional than the singer/songwriter crowd that frequents MS.

The song list was pretty good for introducing Todd to a new audience that may have never heard of him before, or been exposed to anything other than HIM or CWSBF. Piano playing was much tighter than any recent solo show I've seen, except for HIM. Todd was 'on' all evening, and seemed very friendly and relaxed both on- and off- stage. He was on overload from end-of-tour syndrome, only getting a day-room at the hotel, having driven in that morning from the previous night's gig and he left immediately after the MS gig to drive to Columbus, OH for a plane to LA, and then on to Kauai.

Hanging out with Francis Fisher (mixer of the show since the beginning), Larry Groce (I gotta find out what he uses for brain food; MAN this guy's mind moves), and Andy Ridenour (just before the first show of the new, 20th anniversary season, he still took time to give me a real tour of the facility, introducing me to all the major tech team members) was an incredible blast.

I can't wait 'til this thing hits the bird. Check your local listings for the day of the week and time that MS is broadcast in your area. It's always downloaded to DAT or Hard-Drive and time shifted at the local stations. It should air sometime within 7 to 14 days after April 4th.

Other reviews for Miscellaneous Dates 2003
2/9/2003 - Mountain Stage - Charleston, WV

Other reviews for overall Solo dates 2003

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