Special Guests
Saturday, May 7, 2005

Senator George McGovern

He was born in 1922 in Avon, Bon Homme County, and went to school here in Mitchell. He served as a B-24 Liberator pilot in World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; his wartime exploits were later at the center of Stephen Ambrose's book The Wild Blue. On return from the war, he earned a PhD in history from Northwestern University and became a professor at his alma mater, Dakota Wesleyan University. After five years of teaching he left to become more involved in South Dakota politics, which led to election to the House of Representatives in 1956. After serving as U.S. Food for Peace Director in the Kennedy administration 1960-62, he was elected to the Senate in 1962, and served three terms, losing a bid for a fourth in 1980 to James Abdnor. He won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 but was defeated by Richard Nixon. He was the Chairman of the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs in the 91st through the 95th Congress. He was the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Agencies in 1998-2001; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in August of 2000; and appointed U.N. Global Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001.

The Ditty Bops

Their act doesn't fit the usual categories and has been described as everything from innocent and whimsical musical theater to a sophisticated early jazz swirl with heavenly harmonies; to an upbeat mix of country swing, Tin Pan Alley and contemporary rock. They admit to a range of influences as diverse as Merle Travis, Joni Mitchell, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, Django Reinhardt, and Velvet Underground. They are California women, Amanda from Topanga and Abby from Shasta County in the north; they met in New York City in the late 90s and joined a band that did 1920s covers, in costume. They moved back to California and discovered they had both learned to juggle as kids, a coincidence too unlikely to ignore; they assembled a show and began to work in small cafes and coffee houses. They were also selling homemade pasta at 6:00 AM at the LA farmers' market. They did not go unnoticed for long and now have a contract with Warner Brothers, releasing The Ditty Bops in October of 2004. They've been touring and have made appearances on national late night television.

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.


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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