Special Guests
Saturday, June 8, 2002

Kristin Chenoweth

KRISTIN CHENOWETH is from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and how could a city with a poetic name like that not send an artist off to Broadway? She was dancing as soon as she could walk, and her mother remembers her singing herself to sleep. Kristin said, "When I was about 4 we were watching ballet on TV, and I said, 'I want to do that.' My mom went, 'What?'" She was brought up Baptist and began her singing career in church. She was so good at it she ultimately won a scholarship to the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadephia, after graduating from Oklahoma City University. In Philly she added an 'n' to her original name, figuring Kristi might be a little light for opera. When she first arrived in New York she would say "hello" to everyone she met on the street. Made for a tiring day, she said, saying hello to 3,000 people. She has recently appeared on Broadway in "Charlie Brown," "Steel Pier," and "Epic Proportions," and Off-Broadway "A New Brain," "Scapin," and the Encores production of "Strike Up The Band." She has won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. She's taking it all in stride, exactly as you'd expect from a former Miss Oklahoma City University. Her most recent CD is Let Yourself Go (Sony).

Mike Auldridge

MIKE AULDRIDGE's moniker among bluegrass fans is "His Legendship;" he's been a force in acoustic music since his first recordings with Cliff Waldren and the New Shades of Grass in 1969, and then as a founding member of the Seldom Scene, with whom he recorded and performed for 20 years, producing 19 albums.

He grew up in Kensington, Maryland, in a musical family with a broad range of tastes, and he heard as much Django Reinhardt and Benny Goodman as he did Hank Snow and Flatt and Scruggs; he picked up the guitar at 12, the banjo at 16, and the dobro at 17. He graduated from the U. of Maryland in 1967 as a commercial artist.

He had learned dobro listening to Josh Graves; when he had the chance to play alongside he realized he'd never match Graves' fierce style because their geography was different. He said he was lucky to find himself in bands who loved the bluegrass soul and sound of Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley but who couldn't help but take it in new directions.

He's done more than 200 recording projects, including a number of solo albums. His current band is called ABG, with Richard Bennett and Jimmy Gaudreau; they've toured Europe and have released two CDs: This Old Town and Blue Lonesome Wind, on the Rebel label.

L to R: Mollie O'Brien, Garrison Keillor, Robin and Linda Williams

THE HOPEFUL GOSPEL QUARTET is a more diverse group than your standard gospel quartet: a Virginia couple who have nearly created their own musical genre, called Americana by the record industry, and who are both still in their first marriage; a Colorado blues, country, folk, R&B and jazz singer who fits both the 'belter' and the 'warbler' label; and a serious taller-than-average bass singer from Minnesota who has written humorous books and been nominated for numerous awards. None are cousins or siblings to any others. The Hopeful Gospel Quartet is: Robin and Linda Williams, Mollie O'Brien, and Garrison Keillor.

PETER OSTROUSHKO's latest album is Meeting on Southern Soil, with Norman Blake. There are eight previous, all beautiful and most interspersed with wry humor, with song titles such as Rumba de los Holsteins, Whalebone Feathers, B-O-R-S-C-H-T, Sluz Blues, Too Tight Polka, Corny Dog Ramble, and Puppy Belly Dance. The Pig's Eye Reel, and Unknowingly She walked With Grace Among Tall Men.

Asked how many albums, besides his own nine, that he had played on, he said: "Played on... well... Hard to say, exactly... five hundred is the number that comes to mind. It would be right around that..." He's currently working on a project of old live tracks of the Mando Boys, and he's also transcribing music of the great Irish fiddler John Dougherty to put in book form. He recently took a trip to Ireland, particularly to County Donegal and to the archives in Dublin, to track down his works; said he liked Ireland a lot more than he expected to.

MARK THOMSEN has a reputation as one of the country's leading lyric tenors and has starred in the opera houses of New York, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Washington, New Orleans and Houston, as well as on the European continent. During the 1999-2000 season, he returned to the New York City Opera to sing the title role in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. In the summer of this season, he'll be heard as Ernesto in Don Pasquale at the Crested Butte (Colorado) Festival. His upcoming engagements include working in Toledo and Indianapolis performing in La Traviata and La Boheme.

He has twice won the Pavarotti Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is accompanied tonight by Sonja Thompson.

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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