Special Guests
Saturday, April 30, 2005

Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group

Robin and Linda appeared on our show in 1975, the year they recorded their first album here in town on the Flashlight label; Peter Ostruoshko was on that album, along with Mike Cass and Dave Hull. They recorded their 17th and latest album here as well, on Red House and titled Deeper Waters; it has received enthusiastic reviews, like their albums do. One critic called it "nothing short of a masterpiece." Others said, "the real deal," and "shines like diamonds amid rhinestones," and "rich in harmonies, original songs and acoustic brilliance." Linda is from Anniston, Alabama, and Robin was born in Charlotte, North Carolina; they've made their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for many years. A fine elderly farmhouse, it is, with a driveway that can hold a semi. But they spend so much time on the road every year that we see them about as often as if they lived in South St Paul. Which we think is a very good thing. Joining them as Their Fine Group are Jim Watson, on bass and Jimmie Gaudreaux, on mandolin.

Rob Fisher

Rob Fisher is known to longtime listeners of A Prairie Home Companion for his 1989-1993 tenure as music director and as conductor of the Coffee Club Orchestra. Since then he has been music director and conductor of the Tony Award-winning Encores! series at New York's City Center since its inception in 1994. The Broadway hits Chicago and Wonderful Town began at this series. He also conducted the cast recordings of both, winning a Grammy Award with Chicago. He was the artistic advisor for Carnegie Hall's two-year Gershwin Centennial Celebration and was the music director and conductor for Ira at 100, broadcast on PBS Great Performances. He served as music director for Louisiana Purchase, which he conducted in concert at Weill Recital Hall. He's recorded fifteen albums with his Coffee Club Orchestra and eleven more with other musicians, and has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, the New York City Opera, PBS, and the White House. As a guest artist he has led the Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Baltimore and National Symphonies.

Prudence Johnson

Prudence Johnson's 25-year career in music has taken her from honky-tonks to Carnegie Hall, from the theater stage to the Silver Screen (Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It), from the Midwest to the Middle East. Her ten album releases include Little Dreamer, a collection of international lullabies, Moon Country, which features the music of Hoagy Carmichael, and S'Gershwin, a collaboration with pianist Dan Chouinard. She recently collaborated with four Minnesota composers to create A Girl Named Vincent, a presentation of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to music to be released on CD this year, and is currently writing a play about Elisabeth Hauptmann, an uncredited collaborator of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Prudence is a 2001 recipient of the McKnight Artists Fellowship for Performing Musicians and enjoys a steady schedule of concert appearances across the country.

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 a 1920s Gibson 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.

Elizabeth LaPrelle

She grew up surrounded with all kinds of music with lots of singing around the house. When she was 11, she entered the youth folk song competition at Mt. Airy Fiddler's Convention in North Carolina. She won a prize there and started singing at Fiddler's Conventions regularly thereafter. She is told by folks who know traditional music well that her success in these events comes from her attention to singing traditional versions of the old songs and having an authentic "mountain voice and style." She sings at fiddler's conventions, folk festivals, and an occasional concert and recently cut her first CD, Rain & Snow (Old 97 Wrecords).

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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