Special Guests
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Joe Ely and Joel Guzmán

Joe Ely left West Texas as a teenager in the late '60s. As he puts it, "I followed Woody Guthrie west and the blues guys down south; was on the West Coast during all the big hippie days." After living in Europe for a while, he returned to Texas. "I always knew the best musicians were in Lubbock," he says. His work with the Flatlanders (Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock) includes Wheels of Fortune (New West Records). Accordionist Joel Guzmán was performing with his father's band before he had even started school — "El Pequeño Gigante" ("The Little Giant") they called him. Now an in-demand instrumentalist, singer and producer, he is known for fusing traditional Mexican music with other genres. Live Cactus! — Ely and Guzmán's most recent CD — was released last year on Rack 'Em Records.

Heather Masse

Heather Masse grew up in rural Maine and currently makes her home in New York. She has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion a number of times, usually with her band the Wailin' Jennys. Now, while the Jennys take a break from touring, Heather is keeping busy with other projects. She performs regularly with her Brooklyn-based outfit, Heather and the Barbarians — a group that first formed when the members were students at the New England Conservatory of Music. Their album Tell Me Tonight was released in 2007. Look for a solo recording from Heather sometime in 2009.

Jennifer and Blake Freking

Jennifer Freking has been training and racing sled dogs since she was 9. She began racing her dogs in Junior 3 dog class at North Star Sled Dog Club races in 1990. She ran her first mid-distance event in 1994 and loved the silence and beauty of the longer trails. She has competed in the Jr. Iditarod, Ship Ahoy 100, Sheep Creek Christmas Classic, Beargrease Recreational Class, the Mid-Minnesota Sled Dog Race, the Elton, WI 80, and The Flute Reed Challenge.

Dr. Jennifer Freking graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2004 and practices large and small animal medicine at the Ely Veterinary Clinic in Ely, MN.

In 2003, Jennifer, Alex, Fiona, Trouble, Temu, Bluie, Jericho, Ewok, and Punto finished 4th of 28 teams in the 135-mile Beargrease. Jenny finished 6th at the 2004 Apostle Island Sled Dog Race of 51 teams and 5th at the 2004 Empire Sled Dog Race, averaging over 13 mph for 34 miles per day! She and the 2-yr-olds finished 14th of 52 team in the 2004 Beargrease 8-dog 150 mile race. In 2005 Jennifer's puppy team (some of them in only their second race ever) placed 2nd in the 400-mile Beargrease Marathon and she was Rookie of the Year. In 2006, She placed 3rd in the Beargrease marathon (10 minutes behind Blake!) and, 4th in the UP 200, and 8th in the Can Am 60 in Fort Kent, Maine.

Iditarod veteran, 2005 Yukon Quest veteran, and 2004 Beargrease Champion, Blake Freking was born in Heron Lake, MN. He began skijoring recreationally with his Siberians in 1991.

From 1998-2000, Blake worked with the Anadyr Siberians at Earl and Natalie Norris's Howling Dog Farm in Willow, Alaska. He trained and raced the puppy teams and handled for Shawn Sidelinger's 1999 Iditarod Team.

In 2000, he raced the Anadyr team in the Klondike 300 and Knik 200, placing 7th and 5th respectively. In the 2000 Iditarod, the 4th event in his racing career, Blake finished 46th of 81 teams.

Since 2001, Blake has been training and racing in the midwest, including the UP 200 and Midnight Run, Beargrease, Solon Springs, Bayfield, and Grand Portage Passage. Blake and the Manitou Crossing Siberians WON the 2004 400-mile Beargrease Sleddog Marathon in Duluth, MN. Then, in 2005, they finished 11th in the Yukon Quest 1000-mile marathon! In 2006, Blake finished 2nd in the John Beargrease Marathon and 5th in the Can-AM 250 in Fort Kent, Maine.


www.beargrease.com (official race results)

Guy's All-Star Shoe Band

The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band is led by A Prairie Home Companion music director Richard Dworsky. A masterful keyboard player, composer and improviser in any style, he writes all the script themes and underscores, and he has accompanied guests from James Taylor to Renée Fleming. His latest CD is So Near and Dear to Me.

Chet Atkins called Pat Donohue (guitar) one of the greatest finger pickers in the world today. And he writes songs too — recorded by Suzy Bogguss, Kenny Rogers and others. Freewayman (Bluesky Records) is the most recent of Pat's nine albums.

Gary Raynor (bass) has performed with the Count Basie band, Sammy Davis Jr. — with whom he toured for several years — and the Minnesota Klezmer Band. He teaches jazz bass at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.

Peter Johnson (percussion) 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: Saint Paul.

Originally from Cloquet, Minnesota, pedal steel player Joe Savage made his way to Minneapolis in the 1980s. These days, he is a fixture on the Twin Cities music scene, performing with a number of artists in addition to keeping up his work as a studio musician.

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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