Special Guests
Saturday, May 5, 2007

Bob Dorough

When Bob Dorough was growing up in Arkansas and Texas, he wanted to be a cowboy, but changed his mind once he began playing music. It was the right choice. His career in jazz took him to Paris in the mid-'50s, where he recorded with singer Blossom Dearie. Then it was on to New York. He collaborated with Miles Davis, the Fugs and Allen Ginsberg, and he served as musical director for ex-boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. He also launched his solo career with the album Devil May Care (Bethlehem). Then, in the early 1970s, he began a project that would endear him to generations of young TV watchers - even if they didn't know his name. "Schoolhouse Rock" (remember Dorough's jingles "Conjunction Junction," "Three Is a Magic Number," and "My Hero, Zero"?) was on the air from 1973 to '86, and has appeared from time to time in the decades since. Bob Dorough continues to write, perform and record. His latest album is Small Day Tomorrow (Candid Records).

Louis Jenkins

Poet Louis Jenkins has had his work published in many literary magazines and anthologies. His poetry collections include An Almost Human Gesture, All Tangled Up With the Living, Nice Fish: New and Selected Prose Poems, Just Above Water, and The Winter Road, which was nominated for the 2001 Minnesota Book Award for poetry. Two of his prose poems were included in The Best American Poetry (1999). He lives in Duluth.

Greg Brown

Greg Brown's mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown’s first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses. Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report’s Americana rankings and Brown’s first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone’s four-star review of Further In called Brown “a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition.” 1997’s Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records) earned Brown his second Grammy nomination. Brown’s two most recent recordings are Covenant (Red House) and Over and Under (Trailer Records). Brown also recently added author to his resumé.

Gillian Welch

Gillian Welch grew up in Los Angeles, where her musical parents wrote for the Carol Burnett Show. She discovered alternative music and bluegrass while attending the University of California at Santa Cruz. In the early '90s she met David Rawlings at the Berklee College of music in Boston, and they have written songs, recorded, and performed as a duo in the years since. Welch sang with Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss on the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou, an album which triggered a revival in traditional American folk music. They have also appeared on numerous tribute albums, and as guests on albums by such artists as Ryan Adams and Mark Knopfler. Welch and Rawlings released a DVD titled The Revelator Collection and their most recent CD is Soul Journey, their second release on their own Acony Records label.

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 2004–2006. 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.

Randy Newman

Randy Newman is one of America's greatest singer-songwriters and film composers. He was born to a musical family in 1943, and became a professional songwriter seventeen years later. In 1968 he released Randy Newman, the first of many acclaimed albums. He is known as a pop singer for acerbic hits like "Short People," "I Love L.A.," and "It's Money that Matters," and as a composer of the scores for dozens of films, including Ragtime, The Natural, Pleasantville, and Seabiscuit. In 2002, he won an Academy Award for the song "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. He has also written a full-length musical based on Faust, which premiered in 1996. Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman was released as a 4-CD career retrospective in 1998. His most recent recording is The Randy Newman Songbook, Volume 1, featuring solo vocal/piano performances of eighteen of his songs.

Rita Dove

At the opening festivities for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Andrew Young read text written by Rita Dove, for the premiere of "UMOJA-Each One of Us Counts," composer Alvin Singleton's work for symphony and narrator. It was not the first time that Dove's work had been heard by the nation or the world. In 1993, Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States, the youngest person and the first African-American to receive this honor. Six years previous to that, Dove received the Pulitzer Prize for Thomas and Beulah, a collection of interrelated poems loosely based on the lives of her grandparents. Her first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner, appeared in 1980. It was followed by other poetry collections: Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), and Mother Love (W.W. Norton, 1995). Dove has also written a novel called Through the Ivory Gate (1992); a book of essays entitled The Poet's World (Library of Congress, 1995), and a verse drama, The Darker Face of the Earth (Story Line Press), which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in July 1996. Dove has received numerous national fellowships and literary awards, several honorary doctorates, and a Literary Lion citation from the New York Public Library. Since 1989, she has been on the faculty of the University of Virginia, where she is Common-wealth Professor of English.

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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