CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mountain Stage returned to the Clay Center Sunday night with some old friends, a couple of songwriting legends and Ryan Kennedy on a keyboard?
It was a new one on me but, apparently, that's something else the radio show's spare guitarist and bass player can do.
A good crowd came out for the show and really got a two-for one special, with the first hour of the recorded-live radio program being a standard "Mountain Stage" show, with featured guests Ari Hest, Aoife O'Donovan and Don Dixon with his wife, singer Marti Jones.
The second hour was entirely Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, with a guest appearance by O'Donovan on a single song.
The first hour of the show belonged to the opener. Hest shone brightest. His voice sounded gorgeous, his songs were delightful and I felt bad that I'd missed his previous appearances on the show.
It's one of the truths of the show: Often, the artists who'd be considered at the bottom of the bill or are the supporting acts on the ticket are every bit as interesting and, sometimes, even more interesting than the better-known acts sharing the same stage.
Aoife O'Donovan also was good, showing off some of her new material, which seemed a little different than the progressive bluegrass she's done with Crooked Still or the folk trio Sometymes Why.
I liked Don Dixon's shirt.