Special Guests
Saturday, December 25, 1999

ROY BLOUNT, JR. is a humorist, sportswriter, poet, lecturer, dramatist, and the author of more than a dozen books. Blount grew up in Decatur, Georgia, received his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt, and his master’s from Harvard. After a brief stint in the Army, he worked as a reporter, columnist, and part-time English instructor in Atlanta before becoming a writer and editor for "Sports Illustrated" in 1968. He left SI in 1975 to work as a freelancer, and in 1982, he became a contributing editor for "The Atlantic," reporting on everything from the civil rights movement and the Ku Klux Klan to "Saturday Night Live" and Elvis’ funeral. Now a columnist for "The Oxford American" as well as "The Atlantic," Blount’s work has been published in 111 different publications, including "The New Yorker," "Vanity Fair," "Rolling Stone," and "National Geographic." He is represented in anthologies such as "The Best of Modern Humor," "The Elvis Reader," and "The Ultimate Baseball Book." In 1992, Blount covered both major party conventions for Comedy Central, reporting on other television coverage from a Barcalounger. His one-man show, "Roy Blount’s Happy Hour and a Half," was described by "The New Yorker" as “the most humorous and engaging 50 minutes in town.” Among his many books are "Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor" (W.W. Norton), "Camels Are Easy, Comedy’s Hard" (Villard Books), and "If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You" (Little, Brown & Company). His latest is "Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story," published by Knopf.

One of the original writers for "Saturday Night Live" when it premiered in 1975, Minnesota native AL FRANKEN wrote for and performed on the show until 1980, and again from 1985 to 1995. He won four Emmy Awards for his SNL writing, and his producing garnered another. He is also recognized for his on-camera work, first as half of the comedy team Franken and Davis, then for his sendups of Pat Robertson, Paul Simon, and Paul Tsongas, and for his characters: his “Al Franken Decade” persona, his constantly struggling one-man mobile uplink unit, and Stuart Smalley, the New Age cable-TV host. Smalley and his self-confidence mantra—“You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you”—provided the subject for Franken’s first book, his Grammy-nominated comedy album, and a 1995 movie, "Stuart Saves His Family." His book, "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations," hit "The New York Times" bestseller list in its first week in bookstores. Published in January of this year, Franken’s most recent book, "Why Not Me?," chronicles his own candidacy and 144-day term as President of the United States. A well-known political satirist, Franken provided commentary for CNN at the 1988 Democratic Convention, and anchored Comedy Central’s "Indecision ’92," winning wide critical acclaim for his coverage of both conventions and election night.

VINCE GIORDANO was born in Brooklyn in 1952 and grew up in Long Island listening to old 78s on his grandmother’s Victrola. He joined the musicians’ union at 14, playing a number of instruments. After high school, Giordano joined the Navy and played in a big band that toured South America playing jazz, rock ’n’ roll, and music indigenous to the countries they visited. He later formed his own band, The Nighthawks, which performed in the New York area. Giordano is also a big band historian and collector, with more than 30,000 scores in his collection, most of which were found on cross-country trips spent poking around in musicians’ basements. In addition to his role as the leader of The Nighthawks, he works as an archivist for BMG, sorting through thousands of items amassed since the Victor Company (now BMG) started in 1901. The Nighthawks are: Andy Stein (violin), Randy Reinhart (trumpet), Jon Kellso (trumpet), Art Barron (trombone), Jack Stuckey (saxophone), Mark Lopeman (saxophone), Dan Levinson (saxophone); Conal Fowkes (piano), John Gill (banjo/guitar), Vince Giordano (bass/tuba/bass saxophone), Arnie Kinsella (drums). Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks play at the Cajun Restaurant at 8th Avenue & 16th Street every Monday night.

ERNEST STEIN was born in Munich, Germany, in November 1900. He began studying piano with his mother at about age five and played the cello in the high school orchestra. Although his cello playing fell by the wayside as the years past, he still continues to practice the piano several hours a day. He was drafted into the Kaiser’s army at 17, but only made it through basic training before World War I ended. He emigrated to New York in 1921, where he found a career in the import business and attended concerts with Richard Strauss conducting the New York Philharmonic at the old Madison Square Garden. He also worked as an accompanist for the Brahms Singing Club, a women’s singing group, with whom he performed at Carnegie Hall, as well as at Town Hall. (He remembers being given $50 to buy a tuxedo for the performances.) Stein also performed publicly with renowned violist Lillian Fuchs, the wife of his identical twin brother, Ludwig, as well as with her brother, violinist Joseph Fuchs. In 1934, he met Doris Blumenthal, then a Ph.D candidate in biochemistry. The two married in 1936 and together they raised three sons, the youngest of whom is Andy Stein, performing tonight with the Nighthawks. In addition to his talents as a performer, Stein is also a gifted composer and a published poet.

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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