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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.

Sep 3, 2022

Enjoy an hour of stirring performances from Big Top Chautauqua Founder Warren Nelson featuring the Blue Canvas Orchestra and additional special guests on this week’s episode of Tent Show Radio. Long admired for his songwriting, script works, and stage presence, the musician and entertainer has been performing since thelate 1960’s. After forming the Lost Nation String Band alongside the late Don Pavel, Nelson moved to northern Wisconsin’s Bayfield Peninsula where he founded Lake Superior Big Top Chautauquain 1986. For many years, Nelson served as the artistic director, resident writer, and ringmaster of the organization that has become famous for his prototype of unique performance pieces that combine history, storytelling, songwriting,and big screen visuals. 

Joined by Blue Canvas Orchestra members Tom Mitchell, Severin Behnen, Ed Willet, and Jack Gunderson,Warren and his musical friends perform songs from Nelson’s vast repertoire of original compositions and BigTop productions