Special Guests
Saturday, October 31, 1998

THE CHENILLE SISTERS first got together in 1985 at The Old Town in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Cheryl Dawdy, who writes and sings the group's heart-breaking ballads, was singing at open-mike nights when she met guitarist Connie Huber and vocalist Grace Morand, then featured performers in Cheryl's favorite band, Cookin'. Since then, the Chenilles have recorded nine albums, all demonstrating the harmony and versatility that give them their wide appeal. With songs featuring their signature humor, such as "Help! I'm Turning Into My Parents," as well as ballads and swing numbers, they perform both adult and children's shows with equal aplomb. Their discography includes three children's albums, the most recent on their own label, CanToo Records. In 1995, the group began hosting a children's book review series, entitled "Read to Me," which is carried on public radio stations nationwide. In addition to several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, the Chenilles have been heard on NPR's All Things Considered, and on television's Nightwatch, Lonesome Pine Special, and The Home Show. In 1995, PBS produced the Emmy Award-winning half-hour special entitled, "The Chenille Sisters: Makin' Rhythm."

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. With the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, which recently 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 on several 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. The New York Times, has grouped her in "the new wave of strong female voices."

BUTCH THOMPSON is well-remembered for his 12-year run as the house pianist on A Prairie Home Companion, dating back to the show's second broadcast in July 1974. In 1978, The Butch Thompson Trio was formed for the show and remained the house band until 1986. As a soloist, Thompson has long been regarded as a leading traditional jazz musician. More recently, he has put together an eight-piece group called the New Orleans Jazz Originals. Thompson's interest in jazz began during his childhood in Marine-on-St. Croix, Minnesota, where he discovered the piano at age three. As a teenager, he led his first band (Shirt Thompson and his Sleeves), and played his first professional engagements on both piano and clarinet. In 1962, he joined the Hall Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band on clarinet and began a series of pilgrimages to New Orleans, where he studied with clarinetist George Lewis and became one of the few non-Orleanians to guest occasionally at Preservation Hall. By the early '70s, his recordings on both instruments were noticed abroad, and he toured Europe and Australia. Thompson's first recording, Butch Thompson Plays Jelly Roll Morton Piano Solos, has been re-issued as a Biograph CD, and he recently released the ninth CD in his acclaimed solo series, Thompson Plays Joplin (on Daring/Rounder Records). Joining Thompson's Hiawatha Marching Band tonight are: Charlie Devore, cornet, Bill Evans, trombone, Dave Graf, trombone, Ted Schreyer, tuba, and from New Orleans, Duke Heitger on trumpet.

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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