One chilly night after a show, Groce started up the van by the loading dock behind the theater and let the engine run, probably to give the vehicle's heat time to kick on. Since the O'Briens would be carrying instruments, the "Mountain Stage" host left the side door open.
"When we got out to the van, there was a drunk passed out in the middle seats," O'Brien laughed. "He was just completely s---faced, hammered."
None of them were sure what to do at first. The singer said they worried the bum might take a swing at one of them if they got too close, but they went ahead and roused him anyway.
"And he just reeked," she said. "But we got him up, got him situated and sent him on his way."
And then Groce got them to the airport.
O'Brien has been on the show many times. In fact, she can't say for sure how many and the dates sort of jumble together. She remembers meeting Kathy Mattea on the show and even The Roches.
She said, "We all had young children -- my youngest was 1 1/2 -- and we talked about how hard it was to leave them to go away for work. Now, 24 or so years later Lucy Wainwright Roche is on the show with me on Sunday -- one of the little ones we had to leave at home."
O'Brien loves the show. Her entire family has been fans of it and friends of the program almost since its inception.
"My parents were huge fans, especially my mom," she said. "She used to bring cookies to the shows when we played."
O'Brien's mom also went to bat for the show.
There was a time when funding for the show wasn't secure. Word got around that "Mountain Stage" might not get renewed.
"Our mother was a terrific publicist. If she believed in something, she worked the aisles to make it happen."
The O'Brien's parents were friends with Governor Arch Moore and his wife, Shelly. O'Brien said her mother talked to them about it.
"And I think it helped," she said.
She hoped so.
"Mountain Stage" has been a great experience for her. Aside from being a good show, it's run by good people who've never made her feel anxious or nervous.
"You never felt like you'd get the hook if you went over the time limit on your songs," she said. "They're just fantastic people, very down-to-earth and good musicians. They work their butts off."
She added, "They've always made me feel like I'm a star."Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.