Larry Groce

LARRY AND SANDRA GROCE BIOGRAPHY

Larry Groce is a singer, songwriter and one of the founders of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage*,distributed nationally by NPR to over 170 stations. He’s been host and artistic director of the show since its beginning in 1983.

Sandra Groce was the principal violist for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and its Montclaire String Quartet from 1996 until 2010 when she stepped down to raise the couple’s two daughters. She continues to perform with the WVSO and other regional orchestras. Previously, she was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami, the Spoleto Orchestra (South Carolina and Italy) and the Central City (Colorado) Opera Orchestra. Performing folk, country and pop music has been a recent development in her long musical career and one she has taken to with a passion.

Larry has recorded twenty-four albums. “Live Forever”, recorded with his wife Sandra on viola and produced by Don Dixon (REM, The Red Clay Ramblers, James McMurtry), was released in 2016, Larry’s top ten novelty single “Junk Food Junkie” was Dr. Demento’s Song of the Year in 1976 and one his children’s recordings for Walt Disney records was Grammy nominated for “Children’s Record of the Year”. He’s been profiled in The New York Times, People Magazine and other national publications and performed on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, American Bandstand, The Midnight Special, The Rich Little Show, Nashville Now, The Disney Channel, Doctor Demento and A Prairie Home Companion. Larry was born in Dallas where he went to high school with Michael Martin Murphy (“Wildfire”), Ray Wylie Hubbard (“Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers”) and the late B.W. Stevenson (“My Maria”). He lived in New York and Los Angeles before moving to West Virginia in 1972.

* Mountain Stage has featured The Band, Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Van Dyke Parks, Yousou N’Dour, Barenaked Ladies, Alison Krauss, Boozoo Chavis, Ani DiFranco, Alex Chilton, Phish, Counting Crows, Richard Thompson, Ryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell, Daniel Lanois, Los Lobos, Donovan, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, Arlo Guthrie, Warren Zevon, Jeff Buckley, Bill Monroe, Ali Farke Toure, Uncle Tupelo, Umphrey’s McGee, Ralph Stanley, Bruce Hornsby, Bela Fleck, Doc Watson, Pops Staples, Joan Baez, Dave Van Ronk, Chris Stapleton, Vic Chesnut, Regina Spektor, John Prine, Judy Collins, Eric Church, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dr. John, Keith Urban, Allan Toussaint, Allen Ginsburg, Brownie McGee, Bruce Cockburn, REM, Martina McBride, David Lindley, Brad Paisley, Mose Allison and Norah Jones among thousands of other performers.

LARRY BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

Larry Groce is a singer, songwriter and one of the founders of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage, distributed nationally by NPR to over 150 stations. He’s been host and artistic director of the show since its beginning in 1983. Mountain Stage is one of the longest running national radio programs in the country and Larry’s taste and judgment have shaped its two-hour format into the most intriguing and stylistically diverse collection of live performances found on radio or television.

Mountain Stage helped introduce Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Alison Krauss, Ani DiFranco, Phish, Counting Crows, Ben Harper, Ryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams, David Gray and The Avett Brothers to the American public. It has featured rock/pop icons Randy Newman and Warren Zevon, presented American legends Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Pops Staples, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsburg and Brownie McGee and modern superstars REM, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley and Norah Jones.

Larry has recorded twenty-four albums. The most recent, “Live Forever” released in 2016, was produced by Don Dixon (REM, The Red Clay Ramblers, James McMurtry). Larry’s top ten hit novelty single “Junk Food Junkie” was Dr. Demento’s Song of the Year in 1976. Larry’s albums span styles from folk/Americana to hymns to children’s recordings for Walt Disney records, one of which was nominated for a “Children’s Record of the Year” Grammy.

The New York Times, People Magazine and other national publications have profiled him and he performed on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, American Bandstand, The Midnight Special, The Rich Little Show, Nashville Now, The Disney Channel, Doctor Demento and A Prairie Home Companion.

Larry was born in Dallas where he went to high school with Michael Martin Murphy (“Wildfire”), Ray Wylie Hubbard (“Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers”) and the late B.W. Stevenson (“My Maria”). He lived in New York and Los Angeles before moving to West Virginia in 1972 as part of a National Endowment for the Arts Musician-in-Residence program.

Along with his music and production work over the years, Larry owned a ballet school, co-owned an alternative news and humor magazine, acted in a WV produced feature film and was Executive Director of FestivALL Charleston, a ten-day multi-arts event which attracts over 50,000 attendees each year, from its inception in 2005 until 2015.

Larry was awarded the West Virginia Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts and he’s received honorary Doctorate of Music degrees from the University of Charleston and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Larry and his wife Sandra live in Charleston, WV with their two daughters.

LARRY FULL BIOGRAPHY

Larry Groce is a singer, songwriter and one of the founders of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage, distributed nationally by NPR to over 150 stations. He’s been host and artistic director of the show since its beginning in 1983. He was also Executive Director of FestivALL Charleston from its inception in 2005 until 2015, and continues to serve as a consultant for that ten-day multi-arts event, which attracts over 50,000 attendees each year.

Mountain Stage is one of the longest running national radio programs in the country and Larry’s taste and judgment have shaped its two-hour format into the most intriguing and stylistically diverse collection of live performances found on radio or television.

The show helped introduce Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Alison Krauss, Ani DiFranco, Phish, Counting Crows, Ben Harper, Ryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams, David Gray and The Avett Brothers to the American public. It has featured rock/pop icons Randy Newman and Warren Zevon, presented American legends Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Pops Staples, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsburg and Brownie McGee and hosted modern superstars REM, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley and Norah Jones.

Larry was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and became interested in songs and singers while in elementary school. He attended Adamson High School in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, which was fertile ground for aspiring singer-songwriters. From 1963-67 graduates also included Michael Martin Murphy (“Wildfire”), Ray Wylie Hubbard (“Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers”) and the late B.W. Stevenson (“My Maria”).

The first of his twenty-four albums, a recording of hymns, was recorded in 1969 while he was still in college, produced in Nashville by bandleader and comedian, Kay Kyser.

In 1970, the twenty-two year old moved to New York and became a regular performer at an Upper West Side organic food restaurant and coffeehouse co-owned by Larry Brezner, who went on to become a successful Hollywood producer and manager with Rollins and Joffe.  Brezner’s wife at that time, Melissa Manchester, was also a regular performer at the club.

Later that year Larry got a recording contract with RCA distributed Daybreak Records. His first album of original songs, The Wheat Lies Low, was released in 1970 earning a positive review from Rolling Stone which described Larry as "an artist of unusual sincerity and depth". In 1971, Larry moved to Los Angeles and in 1972 he moved again, this time to West Virginia where he continues to make his home.

Larry recorded twenty-two albums from 1969-1990, a twenty third in 2008 and has just released his latest, Live Forever, produced by Don Dixon (REM, Smithereens, James McMurtry, Red Clay Ramblers). He has also made scores of singles, EPs and collections for RCA/Daybreak, Warner-Curb, Disneyland/Walt Disney Records and independent labels. They range in style from folk/Americana to gospel to children's music. Sidemen on his recordings have included Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel (The Band), Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner, Billy Ray Latham and Dean Webb (The Dillards), Gib Gilbeau, Melissa Manchester, Sneaky Pete Kleinow (Flying Burrito Brothers), and Emory Gordy, Jr. (Elvis Presley, John Denver, Emmy Lou Harris). On Live Forever he sings a duet with old friend Ray Wylie Hubbard.

In 1976, his satiric novelty song "Junk Food Junkie" became a top-ten national hit. It generated feature articles in The New York Times, People Magazine and led to radio and television appearances on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, American Bandstand, The Midnight Special, The Rich Little Show, Nashville Now, The Disney Channel, Doctor Demento (it was Demento’s “Song of the Year in ‘76) and A Prairie Home Companion.

Between 1979 and 1990 Larry’s vocals and songs were included on nine Disney albums. They include Disney’s Children’s Favorites Volumes I-IV, Disney’s Lullaby Favorites and Disney’s Christmas Favorites, all ofwhich continue to sell. His first Disney recording, Winnie-the-Pooh for President, was nominated for a “Best Recording for Children” Grammy in 1976. Altogether, 36 of Larry’s songs have been recorded on Disneyland/Walt Disney Records, including a series of “Little Golden Book” book/records. Four of these Disney albums were awarded gold records.

Larry has performed in almost every state of the USA as well as in Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, France, England, Italy, Greece and Russia. He has appeared on television and radio shows in Canada, England and Russia. He continues to perform select dates with the Mountain Stage Band, with his wife Sandra or solo.

From 1972-1985 Larry was a National Endowment for the Arts sponsored "musician-in- residence", visiting schools in twenty different states. One of those residencies brought him to West Virginia in 1972.

In the 1970’s he composed music for two film documentaries, one of which was shown at the President's White House Conference on Children. In 1990, he starred in a low budget feature film made in West Virginia, Paradise Park, a hillbilly fantasy about characters in a Mountain State trailer park. He co-wrote the title song with Webb Wilder who also appeared in the film along with country stars Porter Waggoner and Johnny Paycheck and wrestler Dusty Rhodes.

In 1991 Larry produced, directed and composed music for an audio version of "Gauley Mountain", a collection of 81 historical poems by the late WV Poet Laureate Louise McNeill. In 2003 he produced a three-hour audio version of five short stories written by Louise’s father, G.D. McNeill, in his book, “The Last Forest - Tales of the Allegheny Woods.”

In other art related projects, he owned and operated The Morgantown School of Ballet from 1980-85 and was part owner of West Virginia's only statewide arts and entertainment alternative tabloid, Graffiti, from 1990 until 2004.

Larry is the recipient of honorary doctorates from West Virginia Wesleyan College and The University of Charleston. In 2008 he was awarded the West Virginia Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts. In 2010 he was inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasters Hall of Fame and in 2012 he was named Outstanding West Virginian by the West Virginia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. In 2013 he was one of three honorees at the Charleston Community Music Association’s Arts Awards and in 2015 was awarded the Cast Iron Cook-Off Pioneer Award for promoting tourism in West Virginia.  

In 2001 Larry married Sandra Armstrong, violist with The West Virginia Symphony. The couple have two daughters.