Special Guests
Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sam Bush

Sam Bush was just 11 when he got his first mandolin. By the time he was 17, he had won the title of National Junior Fiddle Champion for three years running. And he had made his recording debut, Poor Richard's Almanac. Founder of groundbreaking bands like New Grass Revival and Strength in Numbers, he has also been the go-to sideman for Lyle Lovett, the Flecktones and dozens of others. For five years, he led Emmylou Harris' Grammy-winning Nash Ramblers. He has recorded a number of solo albums. The most recent is Laps In Seven (Sugar Hill Records). The band: Stephen Mougin (guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Byron House (bass) and Chris Brown (drums).

Brad Paisley

When Brad Paisley was about eight, his grandfather gave him a guitar and a piece of advice: "Anything that's going wrong in your life, you can pick this guitar up and it'll go away. Seems grandpa was right. At 12, Paisley wrote his first song. He was invited to perform it at a Rotary Club meeting, and that's when a radio program director asked Brad to appear on WWVA's Jamboree USA. Brad was a hit, and he hasn't stopped wowing music moguls and fans alike. In 2001, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. He has been honored with numerous awards, including a Grammy for his 2007 CD, 5th Gear. On his latest recording, Play (Arista), Brad showcases his top-flight guitar work.

Richard Dworsky

Richard Dworsky, who week in and week out leads A Prairie Home Companion's Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, is a classically trained pianist and composer who rocks, swings, plays great blues and gospel, tears it up on Hammond B3 organ, and keeps up with world-class pickers playing his unique "bluegrass piano” style. He writes all APHC's script themes and underscores, and during his 16-year stint, he has accompanied guests from James Taylor to Renée Fleming. His latest CD is So Near and Dear to Me (Prairie Home Productions).

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.-->

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 has performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan.

A Note from Garrison about the Ryman Auditorium

In the spring of 1974, I proposed an article to William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker, about the Grand Ole Opry leaving its old home in the Ryman Auditorium and moving to the suburbs, and he agreed to it, thanks to the intervention of an editor named Bill Whitworth, who had written an amazing profile of Roger Miller in the magazine and other stuff. So I went to Nashville for a week, stayed at a cheap hotel, picked up little bits of color — tried to see Chet Atkins but he was busy and didn't know who I was, ran into Roy Acuff in an instrument shop and he was good and crusty, I found an impoverished songwriter who'd written a song called "Goodbye, Dear Old Ryman" and was hoping to have a hit with it, and I met an old fiddler named Sid Harkreader who knew some of the original Opry musicians from 1925 — I gathered up some threads of a story, wrote it, and it was published in the magazine in May of that year, I believe. But meanwhile I'd gotten the notion to go back to Minnesota and start up a similar show. I had done a morning show on radio for a few years, 6 to 9 a.m., and was tired of mornings and looking for something new, so that was it. I took the name from the Prairie Home Cemetery in Moorhead — you go for those macabre touches when you're young — and did a few test runs at the Walker Art Center in April and then started the weekly show in July.

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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