Special Guests
SATURDAY, May 18, 2002

Al Franken


AL FRANKEN was a founding member of the writing crew on the first Saturday Night Live in 1975, where he created the character Stuart Smalley; he left the show in 1980 and returned in 1985 for ten more years, leaving in 1995 after winning five Emmys for his work.

He has written three books of political commentary, wrote the screeenplay for the movie Stuart Saves His Family and co-authored the screenplay for When A Man Loves A Woman with Ron Bass.

Al grew up in St. Louis Park and is a graduate of Harvard College; currently, he lives with his wife and two children in New York City. His latest book is called Oh, the Things I Know! (Dutton) with an audio version from Highbridge.

PAUL GEREMIA has been around and he's lived the life; like in the old song, he's qualified. He was born in 1944 in Providence, Rhode Island, recorded his first acoustic blues album, Just Enough, in 1968, and has followed with eight more, the most recent titled The Devil's Music, on the Red House label.

He is a blues historian as a matter of course, but more than keeping alive the music of such as Skip James, Big Bill Broonzy and Reverend Gary Davis, he expands upon it, taking it where it would naturally go. He writes half the music he performs on stage, and his own fits seamlessly into the blues classics and covers. His guitar and harmonica deliver musicianship of the highest order, fresh and innovative, no mean trick for an East Coast guy knocking around the country in an old car, tending to the roots of the American musical experience.

Detroit's JO SERRAPERE was the Songwriting Winner at the South Florida Folk Festival in 1999 for "Dream My Girl;" she also won the Detroit Music Award for Best Vocalist in Acoustic Music, and the year before was the Showcase Artist at the North American Folk Alliance Conference. She has taken diverse the elements of Mississippi John Hurt, Tom Waits, Nat King Cole, Louie Prima and Bessie Smith, added her own original work and put together a great band to play it.

The band has a new name, the WILLIE DUNNS, but it's the same people: John Devine on dobro, mandolin, electric and acoustic guitar; Motown session player Jef (it's not a typo) Reynolds on acoustic and electric bass, mandolin, cello and guitar; and Stuart Tucker, a long-time professional drummer who also teaches English at the University of Detroit. The departed jazz guitarist Willie Dunn, who was also known as Eddie Lang, is in the band in spirit; a clever way to add a band member without having to pay him. They've been performing at festivals and halls all around the east, south and midwest: from Memphis to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, and a lot in between.

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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