Please access most shows on Google Play, iHeartRadio, iPhone/iPad App, Spotify, or sign up to receive the podcast in your RSS feed, as our website TentShowRadio.org may be experiencing issues. Thank you
First broadcast in 1994, Tent Show Radio is a 59-minute weekly radio program assembled from the best live recordings from the acclaimed musical acts that perform at the Big Top Chautauqua Tent each summer. Running 52 weeks a year, Tent Show Radio is broadcast on 31 listener supported radio stations across 6 states and online world wide.
Tent Show Radio is independently produced by Big Top Chautauqua and is made available around the country at no cost to public radio stations and around the world to listeners on tentshowradio.com, iTunes, and Stitcher Radio.
Who has played on Tent Show Radio?
Bill Monroe Johnny Cash Luther Alison
Yonder Mountain String Band Shooter Jennings Suzanne Vega
Joan Baez Steve Earle Sarah Watkins
Bonnie Raitt Gaelic Storm Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
Garrison Keillor Bill Miller Avett Brothers
Greg Brown Great Big Sea June Carter Cash
Chad Mitchell Trio Willie Nelson Smother Brothers
Oak Ridge Boys Nanci Griffith Arlo Guthrie
Merle Haggard Taj Mahal Kathy Mattea
Judy Collins Shawn Colvin Richie Havens
B.B. King Brandi Carlile Tommy Sands
Los Lonely Boys Keb’ Mo’ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Howard Levy Chris Isaak Pert Near Sandstone
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Todd Snider Michael Franti
Buffy Sainte-Marie The Bodeans Home Free
Jonny Lang Rusted Root The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Lyle Lovett Ricky Skaggs Don McLean …and many more!
Each week Wisconsin’s own award-winning and New York Times bestselling author, humorist Michael Perry takes listeners Backstage at the Big Top. Michael Perry is the author of the bestselling memoir “Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time,” and the essay collection “Off Main Street.” Perry writes a weekly column for and has written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Backpacker, Orion, and Salon.com. His essays have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and Michael Perry is also a contributing editor to Men’s Health.
Our Mission Statement
Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua provides entertaining and educational cultural activities with an emphasis on performances that celebrate history and the environment.
Our primary strategies to accomplish our mission are:
Past Performers (click to expand)
Big Top Chautauqua has presented over 30 years of outstanding performances! Here are just some of the artists who have performed at the Big Top:
Our own unique brand of shows feature songs and stories performed by Big Top’s Blue Canvas Orchestra and Singers. Together with a multitude of talented guest artists, our original productions bear the hallmark of exquisite musicianship illustrated by big-screen visuals. In addition to performances at Big Top, the Blue Canvas Orchestra tours throughout the region.
Big Top also produces the nationally-broadcast radio show “Tent Show Radio” heard on Wisconsin Public Radio and other listener-supported stations. This weekly one hour program relives the highlights of shows from the previous season at the Big Top stage. It is online and aired on public radio stations throughout the country with its host, Michael Perry. During intermission of each show, Mike spins a story “from the backstage dressing room, with the one lonely little light bulb burning.” Topics range from Mike’s battles with trees, to the behavior of rogue chickens, to the search for hope while stoking a wood stove in the darkness. "Tent Show Radio" is also available for streaming at www.tentshowradio.org.