Special Guests
Saturday, November 30, 1996

Walter Bobbie directed the current revival of Chicago, at the Richard Rodgers Theater. The New York Times called the show a "pulse-racing revival" and hailed Bobbie's work as "delightfully inventive direction [that] sustains just the right tone of heady irony." Bobbie received a Drama Desk nomination for his performance as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls. Other New York credits include Assassins, Getting Married, Anything Goes, Café Crown, Driving Miss Daisy, Up From Paradise, I Love My Wife, A History of the American Film, Dames At Sea, and the original Grease. On television, Bobbie has appeared on Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, The Equalizer, Law and Order, NYPD Blue, and New York Blues. He was seen in the films Edie and Pen, Stephen King's Thinner, and The First Wives' Club. Bobbie is also a director whose all-star Fiorello! In Concert premiered the Encores! series at City Center, where he is now artistic director. Bobbie conceived and directed Rodgers and Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing at the Roundabout Theatre and Durang, Durang at Manhattan Theatre Club. Last year, he developed Andrea Martin's one-woman show, Nude Nude Totally Nude, for the New York Shakespeare Festival.

A graduate of Yale University, Victoria Clark has been seen in a number of national and Broadway productions, including A Grand Night for Singing, Guys and Dolls, Sunday in the Park With George, Drood, Les Miserables, and Cats. Regionally, she's appeared on the stage of The Long Wharf Theatre, Goodspeed Opera, The American Music Theatre Festival, and others. Clark has directed productions at the Houston Grand Opera, the Texas Opera Thatre, and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She recently appeared in the NYC production of Marathon Dancing and starred on Broadway in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Matthew Broderick.

Susannah McCorkle's singing career began while she was a studying in Europe and became inspired by the work of Billie Holiday. Now, a talented jazz-pop singer with a 2,500-song repertoire, McCorkle can claim the honor of the youngest singer to ever be included in the Smithsonian Institution's Popular Music Record Series. Life Magazine also honored her with their article about a dozen singers spanning two generations of American music. The article included six of America's preeminent vocalists-Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Carmen McRae, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett-and six younger artists, including McCorkle, that Life predicts will make up the next generation of singers able to "[breathe] new life into the classic American popular song." McCorkle sings all across America and around the world: she appears in many of the most prestigious concert halls and clubs, including the singers' apex, New York's famed Rainbow Room. McCorkle is also a talented writer and translator. Her articles have been published in many major magazines, and one of her short stories was chosen for The O. Henry Prize book of short stories. She is able to interpret and translate in four languages; her 1990 release was an example of this expertise. Called Sabia, the album consisted of Brazilian songs for which she translated half of the lyrics. Her 1993 recording, From Bessie to Brazil, was a tribute to songwriters and singers who inspire her: it included more Brazilian songs plus numbers by Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Mercer, and others. The follow-up album, From Broadway to Bebop, highlighted some of McCorkle's favorite showtunes and paid homage to the songs of jazz/bebop musicians such as Chet Baker and James Moody. Her newest recording, Easy to Love (The Songs of Cole Porter) is a tribute to the great songwriter. It, like all her albums since 1989, can be found on the Concord Jazz label. Joining McCorkle tonight are Allen Farnham (piano), Steve Gilmore (bass), and Warren Odze (drums).

The Chicago Tribune calls them "five lark-throated siblings surnamed Rankin." The Los Angeles Times says that tears spring to the eyes from "the inherent melifluousness of the [Gaelic] language, issuing from those angelic voices." With their wonderful harmonies, step-dancing, and instrumentation-including Cape Breton fiddling, complete with foot-stomping-The Rankin Family strikes a chord with listeners across Canada and now in America. The band comes from a family of 12, raised on the western shore of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, a place settled by Scottish immigrants, whose once-prevalent Gaelic language now survives only in folksongs. In the course of two decades, most of the Rankin children have played together in an evolving group called The Rankin Family. The children worked hard at their music: it was important to them that they be able to supplement the family income and then, once their father died, to entirely support their family. Eventually, the group slimmed down to nine. There are five family members now in the band: sisters Cookie, Heather, and Raylene and brothers Jimmy and John Morris. And the siblings are backed up by four talented musicians: Howie MacDonald (fiddle, mandolin), Ray Montford (guitar), John Chaisson (bass), and Scott Ferguson (percussion). The band is a red-hot commodity in their native Canada, where they've sold more than a million albums and won four Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammy). They've also done extremely well in Great Britain, especially in Scotland, and in New Zealand and Australia. The group made their American recording debut last year with North Country, which was followed by this spring's release, Endless Seasons (Guardian Records). The album features Mary Chapin Carpenter on rhythm guitar and was produced by Carpenter's own producer, John Jennings, who also plays guitar and Hammond organ on the recording.

Writer Bill Holm first caught the public eye in 1985 with Boxelder Bug Variations (Milkweed Editions), a volume of poems, prose, and music. In 1990, after Holm had spent several years teaching English literature at universities in China, Milkweed Editions published his book of essays, Coming Home Crazy. This eventual bestseller told of Holm's experiences in the People's Republic and his subsequent readjustment to American life. That same year, Milkweed published a collection of his poetry, The Dead Get By With Everything. His latest work, a collection of essays, is The Heart Can Be Filled Up Anywhere On Earth (Milkweed Editions), about Minneota, Minnesota. Minneota, a small town near the western border of Minnesota, is where Holm grew up, a place he calls "a very small dot on an ocean of grass." Holm is also a professor at Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota.

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).

Available now»

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