“It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown.”
So goes the most famous line from the most famous radio variety show of our times after “The Grand Ole Opry.” The line was delivered weekly by Minnesota writer Garrison Keillor for more than 40 years during a live broadcast on public radio normally from a theater in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Keillor won some fame over the years for his “A Prairie Home Companion” programs that featured his humor monologues, humor skits and music acts.
So among all of the shows that have exploded onto the entertainment scene in Elkin following the December re-opening of the Reeves Theater, the one that caught my eye the longest is a new, monthly variety show reminiscent of “Prairie Home.”
Americana singer Martha Bassett from West Virginia will debut her own, new monthly show Saturday at the Reeves. We’ll see if Bassett follows in the footsteps of Keillor and the like.
”The Martha Bassett Show” will offer “an evening of inspired and entertaining music,” a January internet announcement proclaimed, featuring Bassett and guests who are “emerging national artists, (and) fresh local faces.”
“It’s good music for good people!” the show promised.
Such shows can place towns like my hometown on the map. For instance, the monthly “Song Of The Mountains” concerts that have aired on public TV weekly for a decade are performed in a onetime downtown movie theater in Marion, Virginia, that’s not as nice as the Reeves. “Song” generously promotes the mountain town of 6,000 to our north.
Similarly, radio stations broadcast live, weekly shows for broadcasts from old movie houses in Mount Airy and Galax, Virginia.
Bassett is a recording artist with nine albums to her credit who has garnered some attention around the Triad. She began performing after her college days at UNC-Greensboro. She’s appeared at Merlefest, the big annual spring bluegrass outdoor concert in Wilkesboro.
You can check out Bassett videos on the internet. Selections range from a touching ballad, “Hallelujah,” to a folk-style take on rocker Madonna’s “Material Girl.”
Bassett is “delightful — talented, seasoned and sincere,” Reeves co-owner Debbie Carson wrote me. “Music is her ministry.” Carson said Bassett’s day job is being director of alternative music at Centenary United Methodist Church in downtown Winston-Salem.
“We met Martha when she sang at our daughter’s wedding over 10 years ago,” Carson said, “so we reached out to her three years ago after we bought the Reeves, and we’ve all played with the idea of a regular show ever since.”
Five shows are set and five more are in the works. The shows will be ticketed, and audio podcasts will be available on the internet as well. The show’s web site is http://marthabassettshow.com/ where an audio preview is available.
Bassett said the shows will follow along the lines of the Wednesday-night music services called Roots Revival Stage that she leads at Centenary Church. Bassett’s partner and producer, Pat Lawrence, developed the Reeves show from the Roots Stage series, she said.
“Once we saw the Reeves nearing completion,” Bassett wrote me, ”we knew that it would be a perfect home for the (new) show … intimate and inviting, and nicely located between so many larger towns.”
Since Keillor’s retirement in 2016 and “Prairie Home’s” subsequent demise, there’s a void waiting to be filled. Wouldn’t it be something if a lady from the Appalachian hills makes for some not-so-quiet-weeks in Elkin?
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.