Music News & Reviews

Host says 'Woodsongs' might undergo changes

Michael Johnathon struck fear into the hearts of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour's faithful on Monday night, announcing from the stage that some major changes for the show might be imminent.

The issue appeared to be changes in agreements between WoodSongs , which presents concerts of grass-roots, Americana music most Monday evenings; the Kentucky Theatre's management group, which operates the State Theatre, where WoodSongs is performed; and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, which owns the theater.

"This is a situation where we certainly support WoodSongs and want to see it continue at the Kentucky Theatre," said Shaye Rabold, chief of staff for Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry. "But, as with the Lyric Theatre and other arts spaces, we have to make sure our contracts are consistent and fair."

Rabold said Tuesday afternoon she was just beginning to review a proposal from Johnathon for a partnership agreement between the city and WoodSongs.

WoodSongs is heard and seen worldwide on about 500 radio stations, 40 TV outlets and the Internet.

According to Howard Stovall, secretary-treasurer of the Kentucky Theatre's management group, the relationship between WoodSongs and the theater began to change last year, when the theater asked the show to start paying a weekly rent of $150, beginning July 1, the start of the next fiscal year. WoodSongs has used the Kentucky Theatre complex rent-free since 2000. Stovall said the rent was needed to cover the theater's costs in presenting the show.

The use of a lift to change bulbs in stage lights for the TV broadcast was the issue, Stovall said. In a conversation with Johnathon, who declined to comment for this story, Stovall said the show's host and producer was concerned that a lift the show had previously used for free would no longer be available, making changing bulbs for the TV show a more costly proposition. Show personnel had used a lift lent by the city.

Rabold said that the change came from the Urban County Government's risk management department because of liability problems if someone from WoodSongs were injured using the lift.

Late Tuesday afternoon, she said she was just beginning to review the proposal from Johnathon, which was delivered to her from the Kentucky Theatre management. She could not say when the issue would be resolved.

Johnathon said he had told fans to watch WoodSongs' Web site for potential changes because the show attracts such a wide audience and they should be aware of the situation.

Rabold said, "At the end of the day, we all want WoodSongs to succeed."

The next WoodSongs concert is still scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Monday at the State Theatre with 11-year-old farmers market busker Almira Fawn and a bluegrass group, the Dixie Bee-Liners.

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