Special Guests
Saturday, March 15, 1997

The reigning "Talent From Towns Under 2,000" champion:

Eleven-year-old Emily Shackelton is a fifth grader from Biwabik, Minnesota (pop. 1087). She made her stage debut at age four in the Mesabi community theater production of Brigadoon, and has continued to perform in local theater, especially with the Prairie Fire Children's Theatre in nearby Barrett. Emily takes piano lessons, studies tap dance and ballet, and has won several voice scholarships. She studies voice at the Craig Liabratten Music School in Virginia, Minnesota.

Last March, Shackelton took first place in A Prairie Home Companion's Second Annual "Talent from Towns Under 2,000" (T-TUTT) competition. She returns tonight to hand over the T-TUTT title to this year's winner.

The six final contestants:

Patty Ediger, who farms near Dayton, Oregon (pop. 1745), has been whistling since she was three years old. She has competed in national and international competitions, winning dozens of trophies in the Classical, Contemporary, and Dual Whistling categories. Video clips of Ediger have appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and other television broadcasts. An accomplished pianist, Ediger accompanies herself while whistling.

The Emter Family are headed up by Renae and Roger Emter, who live with their family in Glen Ullin, North Dakota (pop. 960). Their four children-Adam (age 15), Angelina (13), Alida (12), and Abigail (11)-started playing the piano as preschoolers and have won international button-accordion championships in the solo and duet categories. Renae Emter plays piano and the rest of the group plays gold Strasser button accordions. The group has played at the North Dakota State Fair and numerous other fairs, festivals, and celebrations in the U.S. and Canada.

The Great Divide is led by John Hoyt, who hails from Selma, Indiana (pop. 1056), where he is an experimental-test technician in the automotive industry. In 1977, he and his friends started a band called the Magic City Mud Band, which was soon re-named the Great Divide. The group has been playing together for two decades. In 1989, they recorded a self-produced album, Visions. The Great Divide is: John Hoyt (banjo), Ron Beach (guitar), and Ric Dwenger (bass).

Kirkmount is a trio of brothers: Alex, Sam, and Simeon Bigney, who live in Woodland Hills, Utah (pop. 900). Alex plays the harp, Sam plays the fiddle, and Simeon plays the cello. The Celtic music they play is a Bigney family tradition that stretches all the way back to their great-great-grandfather. The group takes its name from the town in the hills of Nova Scotia where their forefathers lived and performed-the all-but-forgotten village of Kirkmount. For the past two years, the trio has been part of the Utah Performing Arts Tour, visiting small towns and schools throughout the state, performing concerts and doing educational programs. Kirkmount has recorded one self-produced CD, Late Summer Air.

The Melody Men are headed up by Al Malone, a resident of Lebanon, Alabama (pop. 100). The group has been singing together since 1994, performing small concerts and making appearances in area churches and schools. WQRX out of nearby Fort Payne, Alabama, airs the music of the Melody Men each week on a Sunday-morning radio show called Sunday Down South. The Melody Men are: Milford Cushen, Dennis George (guitar), and F.L. Pierce.

Nine young women, ages 10 to 16, make up the Newark Balkan Chorus, which comes to us from Newark, Vermont (pop. 354). They started singing together in 1994, when their teacher, Evanne Weirich, demonstrated Balkan harmonies to them. Since then, the group has performed at churches, schools, and festivals, but their favorite place to sing is the Newark Community Church. The members of the chorus are: Elly Barksdale, Erin Barksdale, Barbara Bedor, Jericho Bicknell, Chelsea Gonyer, Adah Holman, Iris Leslie, Nichole Wimbiscus, and Anna Winsor.

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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