Saturday, September 29, 2007
Taking their name from the old Hee Haw TV show it was the phone number of Junior Samples' car lot BR549 got their start doing four sets a night in the store window of Robert's Western World, just behind the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. A little more than a decade later, they have toured the world and amassed a rabid following. The New York Times called them "without question, one of the best groups to ever walk out of the roadhouse circuit and record an album"; they call themselves "the hardest-rocking and hardest-working, here-to-stay band in Country today." Their latest CD, Dog Days, is on the Dualtone label. BR549 is Chuck Mead (guitar), Shaw Wilson (drums), Chris Scruggs (Hawaiian steel and guitar) and Mark Miller (bass).
In addition to her 45-plus operatic roles, soprano Maria Jette has performed pop songs, chamber music, oratorio and more. She has appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra, and with numerous symphony orchestras coast to coast. A frequent collaborator with VocalEssence and other choral ensembles, she is also a regular guest at the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival and the Oregon Festival of American Music. For years, Twin Cities audiences have delighted in her Sopranorama performances with Molly Sue McDonald, Janis Hardy and Dan Chouinard. In July, Maria sang more than 50 Edvard Grieg songs on APHC's Norway cruise. Sonja Thompson is the pianist for this performance.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer Nick Lowe has certainly left his stamp on popular music, starting with his stint with the pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz, a strong influence on 1970s punk music, and during his years with Rockpile. His songs include "Cruel to Be Kind" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which, in addition to being covered by dozens of other artists and appearing on the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, is still an anti-war anthem after three decades. Labour of Lust, The Impossible Bird and The Convincer are among his acclaimed albums. His latest recording, At My Age (Redeye Distribution), is described by the Village Voice as having "a benevolent, whimsical, grandfatherly air that's both sincere and devilishly devious."
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Martin Sheen (born Ramón Gerardo Antonio EstÚvez) always wanted to be an actor. His father thought otherwise, but undeterred, Sheen finally borrowed a few bucks from a local priest and headed for New York. That was in 1959. Over the years, he has piled up Emmys, Golden Globes and other accolades for his performances in movies such as Badlands, The Subject Was Roses, Apocalypse Now, The Departed and Bobby, and on television for "Kennedy," "Blind Ambition" and his seven seasons in the role of President Josiah Bartlet on NBC's "The West Wing." For his work as a tireless activist for social and environmental causes, he has received numerous honors, including the César E. Chávez Spirit Award.
Peter Johnson (percussion, Guy's All-Star Shoe Band) has played Klezmer music with Doc Severinsen and jazz with Dave Brubeck. He was a drummer for The Manhattan Transfer and for Gene Pitney. He has toured the world, but he always comes back to home base: St. Paul.
After playing electric bass in a high school rock 'n' roll band, John Niemann took up guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and mandocello. He was a member of Peter Ostroushko's quartet The Mando Boys, and he spent seven years with the bluegrass group Stoney Lonesome.
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).