Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

First broadcast in 1994, Tent Show Radio is a weekly one-hour radio program showcasing the best live recordings from acclaimed music acts and entertainers who grace the Big Top Chautauqua stage each summer in beautiful Bayfield, WI. In the program's nearly 30 year history it has featured artists like Johnny Cash, B.B King, Brandi Carlile, Willie Nelson, Don McLean, and many more. Hosted by celebrated New York Times best-selling author Michael Perry-who weaves stories and humor throughout each episode - Tent Show Radio features performances from renowned national & regional artists, with regular appearances featuring Big Top’s own unique brand of shows that feature songs and stories performed by its acclaimed house band, The Blue Canvas Orchestra.


Tent Show Radio is independently produced by Big Top Chautauqua, a non-profit performing arts organization, with a mission to present performances and events that celebrate history and the environment - along with their annual summer concert series - nestled in the woods on the shores of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.

May 2, 2024

On this episode of Tent Show Radio, we pay tribute to the late John Prine with highlights of some of his best performances under the Big Top.

One of the most celebrated singer/songwriters of his generation, John Prine was a master storyteller whose work was often witty and always heartfelt, frequently offering a sly but sincere reflection of his Midwestern roots, writing about the lives of ordinary people in a remarkable and perceptive way. While Prine's songs were most often rooted in folk and country flavors, he was no stranger to rock & roll, R&B, and rockabilly, and could readily adapt his rough but expressive voice to his musical surroundings.

Prine's self-titled debut album, released in 1971, was widely regarded as an instant classic and featured some his best-known songs, including "Sam Stone," "Hello in There," "Paradise," and "Illegal Smile," while 1972's Diamonds in the Rough was considered nearly as strong. 1978's Bruised Orange was a low-key return to the tone of his debut, and 1979's Pink Cadillac was a tribute to his love of rockabilly and first-generation rock & roll.

In the 1980s, Prine broke away from the major labels to form his own label, Oh Boy Records, and working at his own pace and following his own inclinations, he produced a handful of fine and idiosyncratic albums, including 1991's The Missing Years, the 1999 duets collection In Spite of Ourselves, and 2018's graceful finale The Tree of ForgivenessThe Tree of Forgiveness was a critical and commercial success, rising to number five on the Top 200 albums chart, peaking at number two on the Country Albums chart, and going all the way to number one on the Folk albums chart. The Tree of Forgiveness would prove to be Prine's last hurrah; he died on April 7, 2020, from complications of the COVID-19 virus at 73 years old.

Michael Perry - Host
Phillip Anich - Announcer
Jaime Hansen - Engineer
Gina Nagro - Marketing Support



Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce -   
Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau - 
Bayfield County Tourism - 
The Bayfield Inn - 
Cable Area Chamber of Commerce - 
Kylmala Truss -

Wisconsin Public Radio -