Saturday, December 16, 2006
Billy Collins"Billy Collins writes lovely poems," John Updike has said. He does indeed. His broad popular appeal combined with high critical claim led Collins to be twice appointed United States Poet Laureate and to be named New York State Poet Laureate 20042006. His collections include Questions About Angels; The Art of Drowning; Picnic, Lightning; Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes; Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems; Nine Horses; The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (Random House) and his most recent She Was Just Seventeen, a collection of his haiku published by Modern Haiku Press. He also edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, Harper's and many other magazines, and he's the recipient of numerous poetry prizes, including the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Award for humor in poetry. Collins has been a writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College and a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York.
Jerry DouglasThese days, when someone mentions a Dobro, Jerry Douglas immediately comes to mind. Little wonder. The 12-time Grammy winner and Country Music Association's Musician of the Year can be heard on more than a thousand albums, including discs by Garth Brooks, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Vince Gill and Ray Charles. Born in Warren, Ohio, Douglas developed an early interest in bluegrass. His father, a steelworker, played music, and Jerry took up the mandolin at age five. He switched to Dobro when he was 11, after seeing a Flatt & Scruggs concert featuring Dobro master Josh Graves. Before he was out of his teens, he had joined the Country Gentlemen. He has been a member of other groundbreaking bands like J.D. Crowe & the New South and Alison Krauss & Union Station, and he has a thriving career as a solo artist as well. The New York Times called Douglas "Dobro's matchless contemporary master." His latest solo album (his 11th) is called The Best Kept Secret (Koch Records). The Jerry Douglas Band is Gabe Witcher on violin, Guthrie Trapp on mandolin and guitar, Todd Parks on bass, and Doug Belote on drums.
Andy SteinAndy Stein (violin, saxophone) definitely has far-flung musical leanings, He collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson, and he's 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).