Special Guests
Saturday, June 4, 2005

Leo Kottke

He recorded Twelve String Blues in 1969 live at the The Scholar Coffee House, recorded Circle ‘Round The Sun in 1970 and sent it to John Fahey, whose manager got him a contract with Capitol Records. He has 34 albums to his credit now, plus four singles. His latest release, Try and Stop Me, features a good deal of improvisation, unusual for Leo. "I deliberately lost count," he said, “So you don't know where the one (count) is until it's already gone past you. It's gonna infuriate people because of that. We really have the 12-bar blues format deeply ingrained in us, whether we even know what it is or not." Leo has just finished recording another cd with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, Sixty Six Steps, due out this fall.

Greg Leisz

He is what they call in the trade a "first call" player. When not on the the road he's one of L.A.'s busiest session players; his credits include Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, the Ventures, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Beck, Joe Cocker, and more recently Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne and Bill Frissell to name a small fraction. He has also made a name for himself as a producer, with albums like Rosie Flores' Rockabilly Silly, Matthew Sweet's In Reverse, The Rose of San Juaquin for Tom Russell and Ash Grove for Dave Alvin. Best known for tasteful daredevil lap-and pedal-steel playing, he is equally skilled at acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin and Dobro. He has played on most of k.d. lang's albums since 1989 and just got back from a world tour with her that hit Europe, Australia and Japan. About Greg Leisz she says: "He has single-handedly liberated pedal steel from the bondage of country."

Old Crow Medicine Show

The band met in New York; their first tour was in 1998, a loose trip through Canada, played mostly on street corners. They landed in the hills of western North Carolina, living in "all sorts of dilapidated structures: wood and steel, some on blocks and some on wheels." They were busking in front of a drug store in Boone, NC, when a woman asked them if they'd be there long enough for her to go get her father. They would, and her father was Doc Watson, who invited them to play at his annual Merlefest. This led to an invitation to play street style in the plaza in front of the Grand Ole Opry House; they moved to Nashville and played on the Opry main stage in 2001. Since then they've been seen on CMT and in three documentary films, and they've toured with Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard. They play pre-WWII music with the sort of reckless drive one might expect from musicians raised under the influence of Nirvana, Public Enemy, and AC/DC.

Karan Casey

She first sang in a church choir in her parish of Ballyduff Lower, in Ireland. She went to Dublin, trained in piano and voice at the Irish School of Music and at the Royal Irish Academy of Music; at the same time she was singing in a jazz band called Bourbon Street and was the resident singer in George's Bistro for two years. In 1993 she moved to New York and began working on a jazz degree at Brooklyn's Long Island University, where she was asked to join the group Atlantic Bridge and went on to become a founding member of Solas. They recorded three albums in four years, played with Béla Fleck, Iris De Ment, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, the Chieftains, and Paul Winter; and they toured America, Europe and Japan. She has also recorded three solo albums, most recently, Chasing the Sun on the Shanachie label. The Wall Street Journal wrote that she is one of the true glories of Irish music today, a view supported by The Herald, of Glasgow, who called her "The most soulful singer to emerge in Irish traditional music in the past decade." They say she can make you believe any story she tells you.

Maude Maggart

In 1926, at the age of fifteen, her grandmother made her debut on Broadway with a show called George White's Scandals. Her parents are Broadway veterans as well, and her sister is the singer and songwriter Fiona Apple; they were raised in upper Manhattan, around 125th Street. Maude began her cabaret career in Los Angeles in 2001 at The Gardenia in Hollywood, and in the short time since she has been booked into the high-tone environs of the the Royal Room in Palm Beach, the Plush Room in San Francisco, and Schroeder’s Cabaret in San Diego; and, back home in Manhattan, at the Oak Room at the Algonquin, Danny's Skylight Room, and Feinstein's at the Regency. She has generated feature stories and high critical praise wherever she's performed; her voice has been described as haunting, mysterious, ethereal and heartbreaking. But it is her ability to sing the songs of her grandmother's time in a voice that we haven't heard in sixty years, as Andrea Marcovicci put it, that separates her from her contemporaries. Someone else wrote: "You can almost hear the crackle of the Victrola."

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.

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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