A Note from Garrison About the 1998-99 Season

Even before our clothes came back from Acme Cleaners after the sweltering Fourth of July finale in Kansas City, even before we finished answering the last letter of complaint about the Joke Show, the Prairie Home Companion organization swung into action to plan the 1998-99 season. Six working committees were formed, each chaired by a PHC program executive - Community Outreach, Programming Partnerships, Mood and Tone, Program Evaluation, Music Diversity, and Pronunciation - and each has been meeting regularly over the summer, collecting information, planning, coordinating, establishing criteria, and developing themes, all with an eye toward (in the words of Vice-President for Preparedness Page Turner) "meeting the entertainment needs of the pre- millenium for a broad range of Americans."

Meanwhile, as that work is underway, we've gone ahead and put together the new season pretty much like last year's.

(1) 32 shows, about two-thirds of them from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, and the others from New York, Atlanta, Peoria, Butte, Reno, Greeley, and Knoxville. Three St. Paul runs - fall, winter, spring - and December at Town Hall in New York and a June tour.

(2) The annual Talent from Towns Under Two Thousand (T-TUTT) contest on April 17 from Peoria, IL.

(3) Some new faces on the guest roster, including cabaret singer Ann Hampton Callaway, slide guitarist Roy Rogers, folksinger Dave Van Ronk, Cajun band Balfa Toujours, and poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

(4) Return appearances by Butch Thompson, Leo Kottke, Greg Brown, the Tannahill Weavers, the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, the Chenille Sisters, Aly Bain, BeauSoleil, and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.

(5) And then there's the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, with Rich Dworsky, Pat Donohue, and Andy Stein in the front line, and the Famous American Radio Theater company of Tom Keith, Tim Russell, and Sue Scott, and me, the host.

Our writing staff, including Sarah Bellum, Pete Moss, Sandy Beach, Norman Conquest, Warren Peace, Lou Tenant, and Hugh Jass, is hard at work on the new season's scripts, which remain a closely guarded secret. Each script is numbered and the numbers are kept in a locked drawer.

And on the last show of the season, July 3rd, we mark the passing of twenty-five years since the first Prairie Home Companion broadcast in 1974. (The 1999-2000 season will be our silver anniversary season.) For that long run, we are deeply grateful to all of you who have supported this show and stayed with it. We hope to give you a shining new season that will justify your confidence in us.

All the best to you,

--Garrison Keillor

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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