An icon from the '50s and '60s folk revival, Tom Paxton remains a living embodiment of the ideas and music of that era. In the best sense, he's an idealist, using his music to take a closer look at the world around him. His songs range from directly political ("Who Will Feed the People") to broadly social ("It Ain't Easy") to deeply personal ("Getting Up Early"). Recorded between 1994 and 2000, Live From Mountain Stage works like a greatest-hits package, with good versions of Paxton's signature songs from "Bottle of Wine" through "Yuppies in the Sky." Like Pete Seeger, another revivalist, Paxton thrives in a live setting, providing humorous introductions to songs and inviting the audience to sing along. Simple, tasteful arrangements perfectly support classics like "My Ramblin' Boy" and "The Marvelous Toy." Eliza Gilkyson adds fitting harmony on "(I Can't Help but Wonder) Where I'm Bound," while Julie Adams and Deni Bonet add lovely background vocals to "Last Thing on My Mind." It will perhaps seem odd to more cynical listeners, hooked on world-weary singer/songwriters, that performers like Paxton have continued to endure for 40 years with their idealism intact. Perhaps this endurance, like the meaningful music he continues to make, offers a reason to believe. Live From Mountain Stage is a fine recording, perfectly suited for Paxton fans old and new.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.