I moved to Charleston, WV in the fall of 2000 to attend college. I grew up in a town that has less than 1,000 people, so moving to the state capitol was a huge deal for me. Granted, Charleston is a small city, but for me, it was a whole new place to explore. I could indulge in whatever I wanted to, because I had so many options to choose from. Music, however, wasn’t something I found easily, even in this “big city” I thought I had come to. That is, until I found WV Mountain Stage.
I had always heard of Mountain Stage, had always wondered what it was and who played there. At the time, the small set didn’t really appeal to me. I attended large concerts, and did so every summer. That was my style, the thing I loved (and still do). However, one artist named Danny Barnes opened for the Dave Matthews Band in the summer of 2010, and I loved him. He was unique, had a funky style, and I really enjoyed his set. I began to follow him on twitter @wildknees, and found out that he would be at WV Mountain Stage that winter. Little did I know, my new musical obsession would begin.
Thanks to Danny, I was able to get tickets to a sold-out show. My husband and I went to our first show together (he had been as a teenager to see Crash Test Dummies…remember them?) on Valentine’s Day 2011. I walked into a small theater, and immediately felt at home. I only knew one of the acts that was playing that night, but knew I would get to see four other bands play.
That night, I saw Danny Barnes, The Sweetback Sisters, Darrell Scott, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Robert Earl Keen. It was dubbed “Americana Night,” and was absolutely amazing. The acoustics were unlike any I had ever heard…I could hear everything perfectly, and the sound was fantastic. I was completely entranced the entire night by the music, plus I got to see a show that is taped for radio in person. The first thing i said to my husband when the show was over was that I had to come back-we had to come back as often as we could, no matter who was playing. Let’s just say I was more than a little excited.
I have since been to see about forty bands since the winter of 2011, some including Ha Ha Tonka, David Wax Museum, Bela Fleck, Dar Williams, Fitz & the Tantrums, Steven Kellogg & the Sixers, Noam Pikelny and Gabe Witcher (from the Punch Brothers), among several other amazing bands that I never would have had the opportunity to see, much less meet, had it not been for WV Mountain Stage.
I know my description of my experiences at Mountain Stage doesn’t do it the justice it deserves. If you’re close or ever have the chance to go (they often travel outside of Charleston), do yourself a favor and go. Check out their schedule on their website or by following their twitter feed @mountainstage. You won’t regret it, I promise. In fact, I’m actually counting down the time until I get to go again in June. It’s a hidden gem in West Virginia that makes me feel like I’m at my musical home, and when I buy my tickets, I always have something to look forward to.
I gush, I know…but I love it.