Saturday, May 27, 2006
Old Crow Medicine ShowThe combination was just right: a little luck and a whole lot of talent. After playing gigs here and there for food and shelter, Old Crow Medicine Show's fortune changed. They were playing in front of a pharmacy in Boone, North Carolina, when a woman approached them saying she wanted her father to hear them. Dad turned out to be guitar legend Doc Watson, who invited the band to play his acoustic and roots music festival, MerleFest. Since then, Willie Watson (guitar), Ketch Secor (fiddle), Critter Fuqua (banjo, slide guitar), Kevin Hayes (guitjo) and Morgan Jahnig (bass) have wowed audiences coast to coast with their distinctive take on pre-World War II blues, fiddle tunes, rags, hollers, hokum and jug band music. They made their Grand Ole Opry debut in 2001, and their first national television appearance on CMT's Grand Ole Opry Live in 2002. They have been included in several documentaries, including PBS's American Roots Music series; In the Valley Where Time Stands Still, a film about the history of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance; and Bluegrass Journey, a portrait of the contemporary bluegrass scene. The group has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (NBC), and two of their songs were included in the film Transamerica. Old Crow's latest CD, Big Iron World (Nettwerk Records), is scheduled for release at the end of August.
Jearlyn SteeleA native of Indiana, Jearlyn Steele first sang with her siblings (as The Steele Children) in churches, concert halls and on radio and television. After Jearlyn left home to attend the University of Minnesota, one by one the rest of the Steele kids followed, and they started singing together again as The Steeles. Now music is the family business. Fans still remember their participation in The Gospel at Colonus at the Guthrie Theater and on Broadway. Jearlyn has voiced many local and national commercials, and she has recorded with top acts including George Clinton and Prince. Her most recent CD is titled Steele Praising Him. Jearlyn Steele hosts Steele Talkin', a Sunday-night radio show that originates on WCCO in Minneapolis and is heard in some 30 states nationwide.
Hopeful Gospel QuartetAs the Hopeful Gospel Quartet (Garrison Keillor, Robin and Linda Williams, and Carol Elizabeth Jones) explains it, the group "began its career backstage at Prairie Home shows, when we stood waiting for the balloon to go up and sang to pass the time and found out that we all like gospel songs and that they sound wonderful in a stairwell." Now, countless gigs (and a couple of personnel changes) later, they are still finding great four-part harmonies in stairwells and on stages across the country.
Singing the music they loveóbe it bluegrass, folk, old-time, or acoustic countryóRobin and Linda Williams have carved out a three-decade career that has taken them from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. They've have written dozens of terrific songs, ones that have been covered by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Tom T. Hall, Tim & Mollie O'Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea, and The Seldom Scene. Robin and Linda's latest CDs are Deeper Waters and The First Christmas Gift, both on Red House Records.
Carol Elizabeth Jones hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She has made her mark as a singer of traditional mountain music and as a writer of new songs in the old tradition. She has recorded several acclaimed albums of original material. Ridin' Along (Yodel-Ay-Hee Records), released this year, is a collection of classic country and bluegrass duets with Laurel Bliss.
Andy SteinAndy Stein (violin, saxophone) collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, and has performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan.
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).