Elkin Variety Show Draws Inspiration From ‘A Prairie Home Companion’
Visitors to the Yadkin Valley town of Elkin probably scratch their heads in wonderment when they see “The Martha Bassett Show” on the Reeves Theater marquee.
“Who is Martha Bassett?” they might ask. “And why does she have her own show?”
First, the answer to the second question.
When Debbie Carson and friends bought the long-shuttered Reeves Theater several years ago, Carson approached Winston-Salem musician Martha Bassett and asked her to consider doing “something” on a regular basis. Of course, “something” seemed like a stretch back then in a crumbling facility facing a lengthy renovation.
But Bassett and Carson kept dreaming. And when the downtown theater reopened as an Art Deco showpiece in late 2017, “The Martha Bassett Show” debuted shortly thereafter. Both have been big hits ever since.
The monthly variety show draws inspiration from “A Prairie Home Companion,” and Bassett even collaborated with a former producer about managing the show’s flow.
Bassett books one nationally touring act per show and incorporates two local/regional musicians. She and her band — loosely described as Americana — open with a couple of upbeat songs. Then the three guest artists perform throughout the evening accompanied by Bassett’s band.
The stage changes composition every few songs.
“We all collaborate, and the (musical) guests collaborate with each other,” Bassett says. “Most of the time we only have that day to rehearse, so it is truly live music.”
Bassett likes being able to spotlight local music from the rolling Blue Ridge foothills of North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley.
Surry County has long been a hot spot for old-time and bluegrass music. Musicians from all over the world traveled to the area to study the fiddle techniques of the late Tommy Jarrell. Regular music jams and square dances anchor small communities. Old-time and bluegrass are well represented in Bassett’s shows.
“We have such great musicians in our area, so that’s the easy part,” Bassett says. “I have a long list of local folks I want to work with.”
Now, the answer to the first question. “Who is Martha Bassett?”
Bassett is a singer-songwriter-guitarist originally from West Virginia. She came to North Carolina to study music at UNC Greensboro and decided to stay.
Based in Winston-Salem, Bassett has 11 albums under her belt and plays regionally and beyond with her six-piece band. In addition to Americana, she loves performing jazz, folk and country gospel.
She relishes learning about North Carolina’s musical traditions and bringing those to the Reeves Theater stage.
So that’s the story of the amazing musician who hosts Elkin’s version of “A Prairie Home Companion,” and why her name continues to show up on the Reeves Theater marquee.
“The Martha Bassett Show” takes place monthly from February through November (typically the first Saturday of the month). Each show starts at 7:30 p.m. and a full schedule and online ticket sales are available at the Reeves Theater website.
“The show fits in well with everything else going on in Elkin,” Bassett says. “Walk the trails, go to the wineries or breweries, grab a nice dinner in downtown and head on over to the Reeves to cap off a nice day of activities.”
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention “The Martha Bassett Show” is also available in podcast form. Listen to portions of every show since 2018, or download them, at https://marthabassettshow.com/
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