Special Guests
Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kasey Chambers

She spent her childhood living in the family camper-van on the Nullarber Plain, above the southern coast of Australia, where her father worked as a fox hunter. They had no radio or television; their father played country music to them on an acoustic guitar. They put together a family band and toured Australia as the Dead Ringers. Her solo career took off in 1999 with her first album, called Captain, and has taken her around the world and brought on acclaim, awards, and a contract with Warner Brothers. She resists, a little, being tagged as a country artist, but will allow that her music is "country enough." She is here on a November bus trip, her fourth tour of the U.S.; thirteen shows in thirteen cities, starting at the Fillmore in San Francisco and ending here in St Paul. Her latest album, Wayward Angel, was recorded and produced in the family studio in a small Australian town, Avoca, where she lives the life of a suburban mom and can still go out and shop for groceries.

Philip Brunelle and the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers

Philip Brunelle, conductor; Sigrid Johnson, associate conductor; Charles Kemper, accompanist.

Conductor Philip Brunelle founded VocalEssence (then known as the Plymouth Music Series) in 1969, leading the organization in its mission to explore the interaction of voices and instruments through innovative programming. His conducting engagements have taken him across the United States, South America and Europe. Recently he has conducted the BBC Singers, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony. He has served on the board of directors of Chorus America and the National Council on the Arts.

Heralded as "a superb American choir...an engaging group, polished, bright, and brilliantly balanced," by the London Times, the 32-voice VocalEssence Ensemble Singers reflect the adventure and enthusiasm of Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence. The singers are chosen for their musicianship, vocal qualities and flexibility in singing many styles of music. Their passion for the highest level of choral performance enlivens commissions and world premieres including works of Dominick Argento, Conrad Susa, Eskil Hemberg, Stephen Paulus, Libby Larsen, and Aaron Jay Kernis. Since the group was formed in 1991, the Ensemble Singers have toured Europe three times. In 1994, they were the first professional American chorus to perform at the Internationale Orgelwoche Nürnberg. In 1997, they were the first professional U.S. chorus chosen to sing at the prestigious Prague Spring Festival. In 1999, they sang at the Fifth World Symposium on Choral Music, held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The group returned to Europe in 2001 for an extensive tour that included sold-out concerts in Germany, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Austria and France. The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers have made many recordings, including The WITNESS Collection, four volumes of music by African American composers, and Dominick Argento: An American Romantic. They are featured on a double CD with Garrison Keillor, Definitely Above Average and have been heard by radio audiences on American Public Media's Saint Paul Sunday.

The Boys of the Lough

They were the first of the full-time professional Celtic bands to make a name on the international scene. Since their first tour in 1967 the Boys have done fifty-one tours of the U.S., four of Australia and countless more of Europe and Asia. They've also released 18 albums, establishing a reputation for first-rate musicianship and technical brilliance; and at the same time have help to keep the centuries-old music of Ireland and Scotland close to its roots. They play, someone aptly wrote, "music that tastes of itself." An early review from a 1972 Rolling Stone put it about as well as it has been said since: ". . . and a quartet of young British instrumentalists and singers set the Saturday night crowd howling and dancing in the full fury of an August thunderstorm with Gaelic tunes played on fiddle, guitar, flute and bodhran."

Robin and Linda Williams

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've just recorded their 17th album, 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 "shine like diamonds amid rhinestones," and "rich in harmonies, original songs and acoustic brilliance." They aren't from here. 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.

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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