World-Class Talent On the Stage

Mike Eldred presents new series of intimate concerts in Whitefish with nationally and globally known musicians

By Molly Priddy

Mike Eldred has a long, storied career in the music business, with more than 30 years of singing with the best musicians in the country and the world.

His rich tenor voice has carried him to star on Broadway and in symphonies, and on recordings, those of other artists and his own albums. Most recently, Eldred’s voice has taken him to Whitefish, where he lives and works, and it’s a community he loves deeply.

It’s that love that drove him to create his latest project, one that has been percolating in the back of his mind for about 15 years: On The Stage, a series of intimate concerts with some of the most-talented musicians Eldred has met on his journey.

“Over the years I’ve worked with so many good people, I wanted to bring them here and show them this amazing place,” Eldred said of the Flathead Valley. “I’m focusing on my incredibly talented musician friends and singer friends and recording artist friends and songwriting friends and theater friends.”

The series begins Oct. 28 with Nashville’s Marcus Hummon, a Grammy-award winning songwriter and recording artist, whose credits include writing Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road;” the Dixie Chicks 2000 album, “Fly,” including co-writing “Ready to Run;” Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly;” Wynonna Judd’s “Only Love;” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Roll the Stone Away.”

Hummon has also written six musicals and an opera. Three of his musicals — “Warrior,” “The Piper,” and “Tut,” — were featured Off Broadway, and Hummon’s children’s book, “Anytime, Anywhere,” was published in 2009. He co-wrote “The Passion” with his wife, Rev. Becca Stevens.

While country songs are some of his most well-known works, Hummon’s songs have been recorded in pop, R&B, and gospel.

The Oct. 28 performance will also feature Chris Roberts, a Helena musician now in Nashville who worked on Broadway with Eldred in 1999.

All of his projects across various media have earned Hummon the moniker of Nashville’s Renaissance Man, and Eldred, who has worked with Hummon in the past, knew such a wealth of talent would be appreciated in the Flathead.

On The Stage has been a goal of Eldred’s for years, and there were previous iterations of the idea. He organized a series at Tupelo Grille’s lounge, with three shows in one night in June. It was too much in that space, he said.

“So I started looking for a different venue, and talked to David Pickeral at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center,” Eldred said. “We decided it would be a really cool thing to keep it intimate and small in the performing arts center by putting it on the stage.”

The seats are close to the stage, giving it a small, cozy feel, Eldred said.

“Sort of like hanging out with these folks in your living room, basically,” Eldred said.

Only 100 tickets will be sold to maintain the sense of intimacy, he said. Given the nature of the program, Eldred said there would be interaction with the audience and the performers, and 90 minutes of music.

“I like for the folks to talk to the artist and vice versa,” Eldred said. “About the inspiration behind songs, about how everything started for them.”

On The Stage will happen four times a year, once a quarter, and is produced by Amazing Place Music, a new corporation with its nonprofit status pending. Eldred hopes to gain sponsors for upcoming concerts to help underwrite the costs.

Each show will start with Eldred introducing the artists and talking about how they know each other, and he might even join the artists for a song or two. Really, the goal is to bring the talent and passion to the Flathead for the people here to enjoy in the same way he’s been able to for 30 years.

“It really is just my baby; it’s a dream come true in that I’ve been wanting to do it for 15 years and it’s happening,” Eldred said.

For more information about On The Stage, visit Tickets to the Oct. 28 concert are $48.

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