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Mavens stand in for band in 'West Wing'

Saturday, September 28, 2002

By Adrian McCoy, freelance writer

Sharp-eyed music fans may have spotted a local roots/country band in Wednesday's season premiere of "The West Wing," filmed in Lawrence County.

The Mavens played a country band hired to perform during President Josiah Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) campaign appearance at an Indiana farm.

It was a short gig, and the band was filmed pantomiming to an already-recorded song. What ended up on TV was a scene where they were shown standing in the background.

The Mavens are an offshoot of longtime bluegrass band the Dog Run Boys, who play traditional and original bluegrass. The Dog Run Boys played at this year's Johnstown Folk Festival.

WQED-FM announcer/operations manager/announcer Ted Sohier plays bass with both bands. Although he's associated mostly with classical music, Sohier has been a longtime devotee of bluegrass and country. That's typical of radio people in their personal musical tastes, he says. "None of us is stuck in one genre."

Sohier, who spent two days on the set, says the attention to detail and continuity during the shoot was "amazing -- they knocked themselves out to be authentic."

During breaks in shooting a scene where he was giving a speech at a podium, "West Wing" lead Martin Sheen sang, told stories and jokes, recited poems and took questions from the audience. "He was very gracious," Sohier said.

The two days of shooting -- the short musical gig notwithstanding -- was an interesting experience, Sohier says. "Even if we hadn't ended up on film, it was worth it."

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