Dr. Dog - Founded by guitarist Toby Leaman and drummer Scott McMicken, the Philadelphia-based Dr. Dog is part of a long tradition of D.I.Y. pop oddballs who blend unapologetic '60s pop worship with lo-fi recording techniques and an apparent disregard for current trends. The band’s 2001, self-released debut, “Psychedelic Swamp,” included no less than 35 tracks. Through the years, the band’s lineup has included more than 20 members and, at one time, included a one-string guitarist in a skintight skeleton costume and a member whose sole task was to dance in the crowd dressed in a tuxedo. The group’s 2002 release, “Toothbrush,” found its way to Jim James of My Morning Jacket who asked the group to open for MMJ’s first tour. In 2007, “We All Belong” earned the group opening slots for Wilco and the Raconteurs, and landed them on a number of late-night television shows. Dr. Dog’s current release it titled “Be the Void.”
The Mountain Goats - While living in California and working as a psychiatric nurse, John Darnielle began recording as the Mountain Goats in 1991. In more than two decades, the singer/songwriter has released a varied body of work that has taken him from (intentionally) hiss-filled cassette releases to a more polished album for the 4AD label. “The Sunset Tree,” released in 2005, featured covers that were individually hand-painted by Darnielle, and, in 2011, “All Eternals Deck” was recorded in four different studios with four different producers. His current release - his 16th to date - is titled “Transcendental Youth.”
Nellie McKay - Born in London and raised in bohemian Harlem by her actress mother, vivacious and multi-talented Nellie McKay quickly set a new standard for diversity and creativity. Just 27, her resume would be impressive for someone twice her age. To date, McKay has done Brecht on Broadway, opened for Lou Reed at Carnegie Hall, sung Woody Allen movie songs at the Hollywood Bowl, performed on “A Prairie Home Companion,” duetted with Eartha Kitt and Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, and played Hilary Swank’s sister in the 2007 film “P.S. I Love You.” Her 2004 debut was a two-CD set on Columbia Records that drew comparisons to Randy Newman, jazz vocalist Blossom Dearie and Cole Porter. “Normal As Blueberry Pie,” issued in 2009, paid tribute to her longtime inspiration Doris Day, fitting as McKay received the Humane Society’s “Doris Day Music Award” in recognition of her dedication to animal rights. McKay is an outspoken advocate for feminism, civil rights and other deeply felt progressive ideals. In 2010, she released, “Home Sweet Mobile Home,” featuring production from her mother Robin Pappas and creative input from David Byrne. Since then, she wrote and performed a “brilliant, zany film-noir musical biography of Barbara Graham,” a convicted murderer who was the third woman to die in the gas chamber in California in 1955, whose life was portrayed In the 1958 movie “I Want to Live! which starred Susan Hayward. A review of the show in “The New York Times” noted that “Ms. McKay, bounced onto the stage like an animated package of pretty poison.”
Red Wanting Blue - Led by singer-songwriter Scott Terry, Red
Wanting Blue is proudly based in Columbus, Ohio, but is sometimes referred to as “America’s local band.” With the aid of positive
word of mouth and an unwavering perseverance, Red Wanting Blue has established
a devoted following in and around the Midwest where the band regularly fills
clubs reserved for bigger names. Red Wanting Blue’s latest studio recording
“From the Vanishing Point” has been called the band’s coming-of-age album and, and
is its first to be recorded for a label after several self-released records.
The record debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, another
testament to the band’s loyal and growing fanbase.
Spirit Family Reunion - This ready-to-break band from Brooklyn plays music heavily influenced by traditional mountain string band music, with drums, an occasional accordion and lots of soul. SPR has already performed at the Newport Folk Festival and opened for the late Levon Helm and the Alabama Shakes. Drawing comparisons to Felice Bros and Old Crow Medicine Show, the band cut its teeth performing on the street corners, farmer's markets and subway stations of New York City while its songwriting was nurtured during the band's year-long residency at the Lovin' Cup Café. The group’s debut album is titled “No Separation.”
This episode is scheduled for NPR distribution on Friday, December 14th 2012. A complete list of stations that carry Mountain Stage can be found at mountainstage.org .