Special Guests
Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Chenille Sisters

The Chenille Sisters first got together in 1985 at The Old Town in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Cheryl Dawdy, who writes and sings the group's heart-breaking ballads, was singing at open-mike nights when she met guitarist Connie Huber and vocalist Grace Morand, then featured performers in Cheryl's favorite band, Cookin'. Since then, the Chenilles have recorded nine albums, all demonstrating the harmony and versatility that give them their wide appeal. With songs featuring their signature humor, such as "Help! I'm Turning Into My Parents," as well as ballads and swing numbers, they perform both adult and children's shows with equal aplomb. Their discography includes three children's albums, the most recent on their own label, CanToo Records. In 1995, the group began hosting a children's book review series, entitled "Read to Me," which is carried on public radio stations nationwide. In addition to several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, the Chenilles have been heard on NPR's All Things Considered, and on television's Nightwatch, Lonesome Pine Special, and The Home Show. In 1995, PBS produced the Emmy Award-winning half-hour special entitled, "The Chenille Sisters: Makin' Rhythm."

Maria Jette

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.

John Niemann

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.

Andy Stein

Andy 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.

Rhonda Vincent

Her biography is almost hard to read, like reading about Wayne Gretzky. She started playing when she was five years old — music, not hockey — and by age six was the drummer in the family band. So if you're a kid, 15 years old, and you're thinking of learning an instrument and you read something like this your heart is just going to sink. "Only fifteen years old, and already ten years behind."

She has 21 albums out and has been a guest on 29 others. She has 9 videos to her credit and began winning awards in 1973, when she was the Missouri State Fiddle Champion; 38 more have followed, both instrumental and vocal, including a Grammy in 2004. The Wall Street Journal called her the "Queen of Bluegrass." Which might say as much for them as for her.

She is an innovator, the first woman to break from traditional forms into a more complex and faster-paced instrumental style, and writing her own music in the process. Her latest CD is rightly named One Step Ahead, on the Rounder Records label.

The Wailin' Jennys

When three solo performers with powerful voices joined forces for a one-time gig in 2002, everything changed. The collaboration was a huge success, surprising everyone, including The Wailin' Jennys. Soon the ad hoc trio was on tour, and within a few weeks the word was out: People were calling them "a bona fide Canadian sensation." Now their fame is spreading. Writing in the Sydney [Australia] Morning Herald, one music critic said, "This is about as good as contemporary folk gets." Closer to home, a Winnipeg Free Press reporter proclaimed that the group's harmony singing has "the ability to send shivers up your spine." The Wailin' Jennys are soprano Ruth Moody, a pianist, songwriter and classically trained vocalist; mezzo Nicky Mehta, a poet and songwriter whose first album was nominated for a 2002 Canadian Music Award; and alto Annabelle Chvostek, who performed her first gig at the age of seven with the Canadian Opera Company, and later broke into the Montreal cabaret scene. The trio's critically acclaimed CD 40 Days won a 2005 Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. Their second album, Firecracker, was released this year on the Red House label.

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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