- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - Corey Shields was on a ladder trimming a tree at his Parkersburg home on Sunday, April 30, when he got the telephone call he dreamed of getting but realistically didn’t think would arrive so soon.

A fellow singer-songwriter from Parkersburg told Shields, 28, he would be getting an important phone call.

A phone call soon arrived that Sunday at the Shields home from Adam Harris, executive producer of Mountain Stage, the live music program produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and carried by 150 public radio stations across the country.

Harris wondered if Shields could appear on Mountain Stage that night at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center in Morgantown.

When your goal is to play on Mountain Stage, you don’t pass up an opportunity to perform on the music program - even if you don’t have much time to prepare for the show.

An act had canceled for the Morgantown show, and Shields was invited to fill in.

After the initial shock had worn off, Shields said, he showered and the family - he, his wife, Heather, and their son Ethan, 4, - headed to Morgantown. Heather drove the car while Corey changed his guitar strings in the back seat.

Corey said it was a “blessing to have two hours to calm my nerves” on the two-hour drive to Morgantown.

The Shieldses arrived in Morgantown around 2 p.m. - in time for an immediate sound check for Corey. The show, featuring five acts, began at 7 p.m.

Shields played several songs from his new album, “Antioch Road,” and figures he was on stage for about 20 minutes. Ethan went back stage with his dad and joined the singers and songwriters on the Mountain Stage for the finale song.

Shields‘ mother, Shawna Hopkins, and stepfather, Chris Hopkins, along with a few other relatives from nearby Pennsylvania, were in the audience for his Mountain Stage debut.

Chris and Heather both said Corey sounded great.

“It was a “super neat” experience to play on such a professional program, said Corey, a fan of Mountain Stage for several years. He and Heather have traveled to the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, Mountain Stage’s home, during the past six years to see shows.

Shields said he thought it might take him a decade or more to get invited to appear on Mountain Stage. National acts try but don’t always get accepted to perform on Mountain Stage, which began in 1983, Shields said.

Shields applied to appear on Mountain Stage - after each of his two CDs.

Musicians wanting to perform on Mountain Stage must send a letter and a CD of their music to Larry Groce, host and artistic director. Only the artists who are invited to be on the show are contacted.

Shields had met Groce after a Mountain Stage show in Charleston last year.

“I told him I would be on the show one day,” Shields said. “He said, ‘stay in touch,’” Shields said of his conversation with Groce.

After the show on April 30, Groce thanked Shields for driving to Morgantown on short notice to perform on Mountain Stage. Shields said he thanked Groce for giving him the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of appearing on Mountain Stage.

“You are one of the family now,” Groce told Shields, who plays Americana/folk/pop music.

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