Guest Biographies
SATURDAY, October 10, 1998

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 Europe, Japan and North America, and was featured in the public television series Showcase and the Nashville Network's Fire on the Mountain. With the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, which just concluded their 1st Annual Pre-Millenium Tour, MacKenzie has recorded a live album from Carnegie Hall, performed at folk festivals in Scotland and Denmark, and was featured on PBS' Austin City Limits. The Hopeful Gospel Quartet's newest recording is Climbing Up on the Rough Side, on the HighBridge label. MacKenzie's work with A Prairie Home Companion has included co-host roles in several Prairie Home broadcasts, 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). MacKenzie's first solo album, Let Them Talk (Red House Records), received enthusiastic reviews and was on the National Bluegrass Charts for 10 months. A second solo album, Age of Innocence (Red House), was released last fall and earned MacKenzie a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album. MacKenzie's success was noted in The New York Times, which grouped her in "the new wave of strong female voices."

Robin and Linda Williams have been frequent guests on A Prairie Home Companion since 1976. They performed on the second and third Prairie Home Companion Reunion Tours and on A Prairie Home Companion's broadcasts from Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and the Universal Amphitheater. Beyond A Prairie Home Companion, the Williamses have made numerous television appearances: on the Nashville Network's Fire on the Mountain, Nashville Now, and Music City Tonight. And the duo has been heard on other nationwide radio programs: the Grand Ole Opry has welcomed Robin and Linda Williams as guests, as have Mountain Stage and NPR's All Things Considered. With more than a dozen recordings and three musicals to their credit, they are considered to be among the finest songwriters in the folk-country tradition. Their most recent albums include: Sugar for Sugar, on the Sugar Hill label; and Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group-Live, Sugar Hill's re-release of Strictly Country Records' recording, Live in Holland. Their latest CD is Devil of a Dream (Sugar Hill). The harmonies of Robin and Linda Williams can also be heard on Mary Chapin Carpenter's album, Stones in the Road, and on Iris DeMent's recording, My Life. As part of the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, the duo recorded a live album from Carnegie Hall (produced by Chet Atkins, on Sony Records), toured across the United States and Europe, and been featured on PBS' Austin City Limits.

Dave Van Ronk is a musician whose versatility defies pigeon-holing. As a teenager in Brooklyn, he played tenor banjo in a group called the Brute Force Jazz Band before switching to guitar and developing a style that combined blues, jazz and folk music. After moving to Greenwich Village, he was encouraged by Odetta to pursue music as a profession. From his start in the folk boom of the 1960s, to jug band music and cabaret theater, from ragtime guitar arrangements of Jelly Roll Morton, to covers of Tom Waits and Paul Simon tunes, he's done it all. Now, after nearly 40 years, he is doing the best work of his career, as his Grammy nomination for his latest CD, From...Another Time and Place, and his 1997 ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award confirm. With two dozen albums to his credit, the gravelly-voiced guitarist has a vast repertoire of over 300 songs from which to choose. Still a resident of Greenwich Village, Van Ronk teaches guitar and tours steadily, playing everywhere from intimate clubs to international festivals.

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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