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Larry Groce and 40 Years on the Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage co-founder & former Host Larry Groce
courtesy of West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Mountain Stage co-founder & former Host Larry Groce

On Mountain Stage, listeners can hear great musicians' sets recorded in front of a live audience.

A new compilation album features a few of the artists, including Wilco, John Prine, Rhiannon Giddens and Allison Krauss. They all have performed on the show from West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which first aired 40 years ago.

NHPR's Rick Ganley talked with Mountain Stage's co-founder Larry Groce. Before he hosted Mountain Stage, his musical career actually started with a hit novelty song called "Junk Food Junkie."


Larry Groce: It was a funny song. You know, a satirical kind of novelty song and it got to the top 10 in America and because it was odd. That's the thing that kind of put me on the map, and it wasn't my idea that I was gonna go on and become a novelty singer.

I don't know how many times you've heard this, but I own that record. It's sitting in my 45 RPM collection at home.

That's great! I love to hear that.

So you pulled together this compilation album called "Outlaws and Outliers." You've got some big names on here that may or may not have been so big at the time that they originally performed. What are some of the highlights for you?

To me, the record as it ended up is all highlights. I first went to the archives and I pulled out a bunch of songs that I thought could easily be made into the best kind of record, make it roots alt- Americana, that sort of thing, that whole world there. And outlaws we say because we're part of the new Chris Stapleton, and Eric Church, and Tyler Childers, and Sturgill Simpson and stuff.

Few live music radio broadcasts have had the success and longevity that Mountain Stage has. What is it about this radio program you think in particular that has made it so enduring over the decades?

I think is kind of the honesty of the show and the presentation that we're not trying to sell anybody anything, but we are trying to expose people to things that we think are good, and that's not just the latest trend. It's not pressure from any company or any agent or anybody. It's lasting music. We've given such artistic freedom to the artists from the beginning. We've never told anybody what to play or what not to play.

What's your favorite backstage moment?

There was one on-stage moment that was pretty, pretty spectacular. I used to sing a song in every show. The first time we had Joan Baez on, I decided to sing "I Still Miss Someone," which I learned from her record, one of her records. And we were doing it and on the second chorus, I heard another voice and she had come out on stage and was singing with me as a backup and I thought, okay, this is about as fantastical as it gets.

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For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
Jackie Harris is the Morning Edition Producer at NHPR. She first joined NHPR in 2021 as the Morning Edition Fellow.

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