There are two ways of handling a dangerous, raging river: you can surrender and let it carry you away, or you can swim against the flow. For The Secret Sisters, there was a point after the release of their last record when they could have chosen to do neither – instead, sinking to the bottom as the weight of the world washed away their dreams. They went from touring with Bob Dylan to losing their label, purging their team, filing bankruptcy and almost permanently trading harmonies for housecleaning. But there's a mythical pull to music that kept sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers moving forward, and they came out with a biting and beautiful third LP, produced by Brandi Carlile, You Don't Own Me Anymore.

Their first as New West signees, it's a document of hardship and redemption, of pushing forward when it would be so much easier to drown in grief. And it's a story about how passion and pure artistry can be the strongest sort of salvation – how art is left, like perfect grains of sand, when everything else has washed away.

Big Top was happy to welcome The Secret Sisters to the tent in 2017, a magical performance featured in this episode.

Direct download: 18-06_Secret_Sisters_-_Becky_Warren_FIRST_AIRING.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 12:15am CDT

Looking back over the past 25 years of rootsy, string-based music, the impact of Leftover Salmon is impossible to deny. Formed in Boulder at the end of 1989, the Colorado slam grass pioneers took their form of aggressive bluegrass to rock and roll bars at a time when it wasn’t so common, helping Salmon become a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the jamgrass genre. Today, Leftover Salmon is Vince Herman (vocals, acoustic guitar, washboard); Drew Emmitt (vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle); Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo); Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass); Alwyn Robinson (drums); Erik Deutsch (keyboard).

Also featured on this episode, Keb' Mo'. Keb' played at the tent in 2004, and dusting off the 14-year old recording is an excellent way to celebrate his return to the Big top in 2018. He's a blues icon that owes his longevity as a singer and writer to a combination of masterful, anecdotal writing skills, distinctive guitar versatility, and resonant, blues-soaked vocals. Every song tells a story, and every story reminds us why Keb' Mo' is one of the most versatile and engaging performers on today's roots rock and blues scene.

Direct download: 18-05_Leftover_Salmon_-_Keb_Mo.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 4:00pm CDT

This episode features Tab Benoit, a Cajun man who’s definitely got the blues. A guitar player since his teenage years, he hung out at the Blues Box, a ramshackle music club and cultural center in nearby Baton Rouge, Louisiana run by guitarist Tabby Thomas. Playing guitar alongside Thomas, Raful Neal, Henry Gray and other high-profile regulars at the club, Benoit learned the blues first-hand from a faculty of living blues legends.

The nightly impromptu gigs were enough to inspire Benoit to assemble his own band – a stripped down bass-and-drums unit propelled by his solid guitar skills and leathery, Cajun-spiced vocal attack. He took his show on the road in the early ‘90s and hasn’t stopped since.

More than just an acclaimed bluesman, he is an indefatigable conservation advocate. Benoit is a driving force behind Voice of the Wetlands, an organization working to save Louisiana’s wetlands.

Also on this episode, Hope Country - a band started by Brent Johnson in 2011 to create an environment and place of hope. Born and raised on a farm in Wisconsin, Brent had a desire to see the world and travel at an early age. He began playing in bands at 17 and has since toured in over 40 states as well as all over Canada. With an emphasis on strong songwriting and storytelling lyrics, Hope Country has developed into a prime example of modern-day Americana.

Direct download: 18-4_-_Tab_Benoit_-_Hope_Country.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 4:59pm CDT

Our featured performer on today’s show is self-proclaimed “wild child” singer songwriter Brett Dennen. Sometime around the halfway mark I’ll share a story about the consequences of self-inflicted sugar bombs. We’ll also sneak in musicby Quito Rymer and our very own Blue Canvas Orchestra.

Direct download: 18-3_-_Brett_Dennen_-_Quito_Rymer.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 4:52pm CDT

Join host Michael Perry as he hosts another edition of Tent Show Radio from Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua.

 
 Big Top gave a warm welcome to Indie songwriter Josh Ritter to the tent. The New York Times says: “The literary-minded songwriter Josh Ritter…recharges his music on his eighth studio album, Sermon on the Rocks…Harking back to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and maybe a little Mark Knopfler, Mr. Ritter has always been a slinger of serious ideas and high-flown imagery.” And, “A guileless, boy-next-door voice belies the depth and ambition of Josh Ritter’s songs, whether he is confessing a simple crush or following his thoughts on a long, Whitmanesque incantation.”

While the music made by Perry and the Long Beds has been variously described as ‘country folk,’ ‘roughneck folk,’ ‘folk-twang,’ and Americana, they prefer the description given by an audience member after a benefit concert in Perry’s old high school gym: “You sound just like Gordon Lightfoot… only zippier!” Nice – but there are limits. “Zippy or not,” says Perry, “when ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ comes on the radio, we sit down, shut up, and listen.”

Direct download: 18-220-20Josh20Ritter20-20Long20Beds.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 8:51pm CDT

Our featured performer on today’s show is Ray Benson, founder of legendary Texas country and western swing outfit Asleep at the Wheel. Sometime around the halfway mark I’ll share a story about surviving the New Year and Colonoscopies. We’ll also sneak in a pair of tunes from Ray Benson’s Lone Star pal Dale Watson, and—for local flavor—one from our very own Blue Canvas Orchestra.

Direct download: 18-120-20AATW20-20Dale20Watson-FIXED.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 11:00am CDT

Join the Blue Canvas Orchestra as they play your favorite holiday classics. 

Originally performed in 2013, this Tent Show Radio program features Big Top Chautauqua's Blue Canvas Orchestra performing original songs and arrangements of broad range of holiday music from classics like Tchaikovsky's Russian and Arabian Dance songs to Jackson Browne's Rebel Jesus to Mr. Grinch.

Direct download: TSR17-2520Blue20Canvas20Christmas.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 10:15am CDT

Join Big Top for the traditional closing night of the season, where we celebrate with music and laughter the end of another year. Our beloved house band, The Blue Canvas Orchestra, opens the night with rollicking renditions of some of our favorite songs, illuminated by big screen images. Author, humorist and host of Tent Show Radio, Michael Perry delivers his hilarious, winding tales of rural Wisconsin life.

Direct download: TSR17-26_Old_Last_Night.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 10:39am CDT

The Villalobos Brothers all the way from Mexcio to the shores of the great Lake Superior and Big Top Chautauqua stage.

Direct download: TSR17-25_Vilanoba_Brothers.mp3
Category:Tent Show Radio -- posted at: 10:27am CDT

Direct download: TSR17-23_NITTY_GRITTY_DIRT_BAND.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50am CDT



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