On Sunday, August 28, Ithaca singer-songwriter Mark Rust will help usher in the 50th season of “Bound for Glory,” in a set of live shows which are free and open to the public. Mayor Svante Myrick will make a proclamation during the evening, which will take place at Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell University, and fans who aren’t able to attend in person can tune in on the radio, or online.
Mark Rust is a frequent guest, as well as a staple at local festivals. One of his best known songs, “Old Ithaca Sunset,” was written during the five years that Rust was a student and resident of the city, but even after he left Ithaca, Rust has continued to return to perform here over and over again. He’s performed at at the Ithaca Festival since “Celebration ’77,” creating new music each year specifically for Ithaca audiences, and has played live for “Bound for Glory” so often that he was the obvious choice to headline Sunday’s anniversary party.
Founded in 1967, “Bound for Glory” is North America’s longest-running live folk concert broadcast. It has been hosted by its creator, Phil Shapiro, for the entire five-decade run. Broadcast during the Cornell University school year, “Bound for Glory” presents more than 30 live concerts over the course of their season. Shapiro began the show the same year that Woody Guthrie died, taking its name from Guthrie’s autobiography, as an homage to the late folk legend.
When Shapiro started at Cornell as a grad student, he immediately began working at WBVR, which was then based on campus. At the time, the station largely played classical music, but Shapiro’s love of folk led him to create “Bound for Glory,” and he’s kept the focus on folk music throughout the last 50 years. He is its sole host, and arguably, biggest fan. While he retired as a sales representative for WBVR back in 2014, he has no plans to retire from his radio show anytime soon.
This year’s 50th anniversary special performance is an homage, then, not just to Guthrie, or the Ithaca scene, or folk music, but to Phil Shapiro himself, without whom “Bound for Glory” wouldn’t still be going strong today.
Just like this Sunday’s special event, the regular live shows are free to attend. “Bound for Glory” is on the air from 8 to 11 pm every Sunday night that Cornell is in session. Visit the show at boundforglory.org and wvbr.com for more information and to find out about upcoming performances.