Special Guests
Saturday, January 17, 1998

Greg Brown's mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown's first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for awhile before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses. Brown's songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report's Americana rankings and Brown's first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone's four-star review of Further In called Brown "a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition." Brown's latest recording is Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records).

Connie Dover was born in Arkansas and raised in Missouri. She first heard Celtic music as a teenager and began seeking it out in her hometown, Kansas City. When she was 22, she began her professional singing career, with a Kansas City-based Irish band called Scartaglen. Dover sang with them for more than five years, until the group disbanded in 1989. She then embarked on a solo career and has since recorded three solo CDs, including her latest, Somebody (Taylor Park Music). In between tours and recording, Dover works summers at a Wyoming cattle ranch, where she is a trail cook during cattle drives and roundups. She also makes frequent joint appearances with another former Scartaglen member, Roger Landes. Landes (bouzouki, cittern) became part of the local Irish-music scene-and a member of Scartaglen-after working in a classical record store in Kansas City. There Landes met a group of Celtic musicians who shared their extensive record collections with him and inspired him to play uilleann pipes, cittern, bouzouki, and fiddle in the traditional Donegal style. He currently plays with the group Nil Inish, in a duo with Connie Dover, and as a free-lance musician.

The Ensemble Singers of the Plymouth Music Series first sang together in 1991. The 24-member chorus is part of the Plymouth Music Series, which-under the direction of world-renowned conductor, choral scholar, and performer Philip Brunelle-has grown over nearly three decades into one of the premier music organizations in Minnesota. The Ensemble Singers are known for innovative exploration of music for voices and instruments. Commissions and world premiere performances have included works of Dominick Argento, Conrad Susa, Eskil Hemberg, Stephen Paulus, Libby Larsen, and David Baker. The Ensemble Singers made their European debut in 1994. In June of 1997, the Ensemble Singers were the first U.S. professional chorus invited by the Prague Spring Festival. Their performance in Prague was part of their second European tour, which included stops at London's Covent Garden Festival, Paris' Foire St. Germain, and Belgium's Flanders Festival. The Ensemble Singers are heard on the Angel, Collins Classics, and RCA labels. Their third Witness recording, Toward the Future (Collins Classics), was released in March of 1997. An American Romantic (Collins Classics), their newest recording of Dominick Argento's music, is due out in February. Performing with the Ensemble Singers tonight: soprano: Kathleen Hanson, Barbara Nelson, Andrea Schussler, Ruth Spiegel, Amy Walter-Peterson, Linda Zelig; alto: Suzanne Buenning, Anna Dick, Rosita Elhardt, Barbara Kastens, Karen Lovgren Kennedy, Christy Thompson; tenor: Claude Cassagne, Robert Griffin, David O. Henderson, Thomas Larson, J. David Moore, Glen Todd; bass: Steve Burger, Jerry Johnson, Michael Jorgenson, Arthur LaRue, Michael P. Schmidt, Robert C. Smith; pianist: Charles Kemper. Tomorrow the Ensemble Singers perform a 7 p.m. concert at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

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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