Special Guests
Saturday, February 14, 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). Playing with Brown tonight is Bo Ramsey, a fellow guitarist and Iowa native who has performed and collaborated with Greg Brown for more than a decade. Ramsey's latest solo CD is In the Weeds (Trailer Records), his eighth recording.

At the opening festivities for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Andrew Young read text written by RITA DOVE, for the premiere of "UMOJA-Each One of Us Counts," composer Alvin Singleton's work for symphony and narrator. It was not the first time that Dove's work had been heard by the nation or the world. In 1993, Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States, the youngest person and the first African-American to receive this honor. Six years previous to that, Dove received the Pulitzer Prize for Thomas and Beulah, a collection of interrelated poems loosely based on the lives of her grandparents. Her first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner, appeared in 1980. It was followed by other poetry collections: Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), and Mother Love (W.W. Norton, 1995). Dove has also written a novel called Through the Ivory Gate (1992); a book of essays entitled The Poet's World (Library of Congress, 1995), and a verse drama, The Darker Face of the Earth (Story Line Press), which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in July 1996. Dove has received numerous national fellowships and literary awards, several honorary doctorates, and a Literary Lion citation from the New York Public Library. Since 1989, she has been on the faculty of the University of Virginia, where she is Common-wealth Professor of English.

KATE MACKENZIE has been a favorite guest of A Prairie Home Companion since 1981. For many years, she was lead singer of Stoney Lonesome, with whom she recorded six bluegrass albums, toured Japan, Europe, and North America, and was featured on the Nashville Network's Fire on the Mountain series. With the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, MacKenzie has recorded a live album from Carnegie Hall, played folk festivals in Scotland and Denmark, and performed on PBS' Austin City Limits. Most recently, MacKenzie produced the long-awaited second Hopeful Gospel Quartet CD, Climbing Up on the Rough Side. Her work with A Prairie Home Companion has included coast-to-coast tours, farewell and reunion shows, 20 Disney Channel television broadcasts, the 1993 Book of Guys tour, and a recurring dramatic role as Sheila, the Christian Jungle girl (wild, yet pure). Her first solo album, Let Them Talk (Red House Records), was on the National Bluegrass Charts for 10 months. Her second CD, Age of Innocence (Red House), earned MacKenzie a 1997 Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass album.

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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