Special Guests
Saturday, December 4, 2004

Joe Ely

He left west Texas as a teenager in the late sixties and put on miles like a trucker, catching freights; "followed Woody Guthrie west and the blues guys down south. . . was on the West Coast during all the big hippie days." He lived in Europe for a while. Lubbock has that effect on people, generating rebels and making a large mark on the country. Buddy Holly came from there, and Roy Orbison, Bob Wills, Waylon Jennings, the Gatlin Brothers, Mac Davis and Tanya Tucker; Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock. And so did Kenny Bernstein, a 330-mph dragster driver, and Raymond Beadle, the first to turn over 300 in a funny car; Joe watched them drag race '55 Chevies by the Hi-D-Ho Drive In when he was a kid. He came back when it felt the time was right and because "I always knew the best musicians were in Lubbock." He put a band together and within a year had a contract with MCA Records. His discography now lists 24 albums, with names like Honky Tonk Masquerade, Texas Special, Musta Notta Gotta Lotta, Lord of the Highway, Love and Danger, Twistin' in the Wind, and Streets of Sin.

Nils Lindberg

Composer, arranger, bandleader and pianist Nils Lindberg is a legend in Sweden. His musical roots are from his native Dalarna, the traditional home of Swedish folk music. His uncle was the famous national romantic composer Oskar Lindberg. Nils came to Stockholm in the 1950s to study at the Royal Academy of Music, planning to compose major symphonic works. A chance visit to a popular jazz club, where a friend had signed him up for a jam session, changed his career. His brilliance as a pianist was evident and he was immediately engaged for jazz recordings.

Nils has successfully completed several tours of Europe and Brazil, as well as the United States, where he has also been invited to give lectures. For several years he worked together with one of Sweden's leading vocalists, Alice Babs, as composer, arranger, pianist and conductor. He has also written arrangements for Duke Ellington and composed a number of works for the Hanover Symphony Orchestra.

In 1986, Nils performed his own music at the funeral of the former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and in 1989 he wrote the music for the divine service held by the Pope at Uppsala Cathedral. Recently, more and more international attention has been given to his recordings. Several of his greatest orchestral works have been released on record, among them 7 Dalecarlian Paintings and The Lapponian Suite. In 1979, his recording Saxes Galore received the Golden Record award from Orchestra Magazine for the best jazz record of the year. O Mistress Mine, released in 1993, is a collection of Renaissance poems, including those of Shakespeare and Marlowe, which Nils has set to music.

Prudence Johnson

She was a founding member of the jazz ensemble Rio Nido, with whom she recorded three albums, one of which, High Fly, is still available on cassette from Red House Records. She stepped out on her own with Vocals, a successful debut bringing on board some 30 musicians from various facets of the Twin Cities music scene, plus an appearance in there by Manhattan Transfer. She recorded three albums on her own and did two tours to the Soviet Union-- one with Women Who Cook, and the other with The Good Life, her own band. She appeared on stage in the Steven Dietz play, Ten November (Actor's Theater of Saint Paul), in The All Night Strut (Music Box Theater, Minneapolis), and in Gershwin's The Klezmer (San Diego Repertory Theatre). She also had a cameo role in Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It.

John Niemann

He got started in music at the right time and place, and for the right reasons; he was in high school and there were girls there. He began with Leo Fender's gift to the world, the electric bass, and started a rock and roll band. In college he discovered acoustic music on the West Bank in Minneapolis and learned the guitar, fiddle and mandolin, eventually finding himself playing the mandocello in Peter Ostroushko's band, the Mando Boys. He played kick-butt fiddle for seven years in the Stoney Lonesome bluegrass band, did a number of guitar gigs with various honkytonk bands around the cities, and for three years was in "the house band at a place called Billy Bob's, or something," at Riverplace. After years spent as a road musician and working in construction, he has settled into the relatively quiet St Paul life of a finish carpenter. He keeps his music honed with jam sessions in the basement.

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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