Mountain Stage to celebrate Mardi Gras at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Feb. 15

MtnStageLogo0112West Virginia’s own live radio program, Mountain Stage with Larry Groce, is returning to Huntington with a Mardi Gras-themed party just in time for Fat Tuesday. This live show, featuring famed New Orleans pianist, Allen Toussaint, jazz guitar great John Pizzarelli and Americana songstress Caroline Rose will be at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Sunday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m.

Founded in 1983 in Charleston,  Mountain Stage has transformed public radio with live performances for over 30 years. Each show is recorded in front of a live audience with 3 to 5 guest artists and broadcast to more than 150 National Public Radio stations nationwide and internationally via the Voice of America radio. Mountain Stage records 26 shows per year. Most take place at the Culture Center Theatre in Charleston.

Legendary pianist and composer Allen Toussaint hails from New Orleans, the original birthplace of jazz. He will bring precise technical skill and his honey-toned singing voice to this Mardi Gras celebration. Toussaint is a renowned songwriter and producer, who’s celebrated for his distinctively deft and funky feel on the piano and he is still active after more than 50 years in the business.  Toussaint is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has written songs for Glen Campbell, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney,  to name a few.

John Pizzarelli, the world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer, was called “hip with a wink” by Town & Country, “madly creative” by the Los Angeles Times and “the genial genius of the guitar” by The Toronto Star. When he has performed with his wife, singer/actress Jessica Molaskey, and his father, guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, they were labeled “the First Family of Cool” by the San Francisco Chronicle and “the von Trapps on martinis” by The New Yorker

Pizzarelli has played with legends like Les Paul, Slam Stewart, and Benny Goodman. This will be his fifth appearance on Mountain Stage since 1999, bringing his quartet for a special extended set that will make up the show’s second hour. Pizzarelli has appeared on America’s most popular television shows including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan” and many more

Young Caroline Rose will bring a traveler’s sensibility and rockabilly tunes flavored with country and blues to the stage. Rose captured much attention with her debut  album “I Will Not Be Afraid.” She describes the 11 songs on the album as  “postcards I’ve picked up from along the road,” literally as she tours the country in the van that she also lives in. With what has been described as her “peaches and molasses voice,” she sings songs of storm clouds and open skies inside the American heart.

Rose said, “So many people are held back by fear. They wish they could do something else with their lives, and they just can’t take the first step. I grew up questioning everything and learned that I needed to be on my own. I needed freedom and I needed to create on my own terms and to keep moving forward without fear, wherever I go.”

The live Mardi Gras celebration will be aired on NPR stations at a later date.

Tickets for Mountain Stage are available at the Marshall Artists Series box office, located in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center,  Box office hours are Monday-Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

Mountain stage is sponsored by Reger Funeral Home, Triffecta Productions, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, KEE 100, Oldies 97.1, WSAZ, the Herald-Dispatch and Marshall University.