October 31, 2009 Bismarck Civic Center

Bismarck, ND

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Guest Information

Maria Jette

In addition to her 45-plus operatic roles, soprano Maria Jette has performed pop songs, chamber music, or oratorio with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and with numerous symphony orchestras coast to coast. She is a frequent collaborator with VocalEssence and a regular guest at 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.

The Radio Stars

Combine a whole lot of energy with a distinctive take on modern and traditional Western-style tunes, and you’ve got The Radio Stars. With the exception of Alex Rydell (fiddle), their most recent addition, bandmates Gregg Temple (guitar, pedal steel), Merrill Piepkorn (harmonica, guitar), and Roger Sell (bass) trace their musical association back to the early 1970s, in popular Minnesota- and North Dakota-based groups like Skunk Hollow and Wang Dang Doodle. The Radio Stars’ 2009 CD is called Headin’ West.

Janet Sorenson

In 1995, yodeler Janet Sorenson took first place in A Prairie Home Companion’s first-ever Talent from Towns Under 2,000 (T-TUTT) competition. She learned to yodel as a child, practicing in an empty grain bin on the family farm. Now, she and her husband run a sugar beet operation near Fisher, Minnesota, a town of 435 persons (according to the 2000 census) just southeast of Grand Forks, North Dakota. She has performed at state fairs and conventions, and has appeared frequently at the Minot Norsk Hostfest.

Andra Suchy

Andra Suchy spent her childhood on a farm near Mandan, North Dakota, the daughter of two talented singers. By the time she was in grade school, she was traveling around, doing concerts and festivals with her family. These days, she sings with several groups in the Twin Cities area — including the all-girl trio The Dollys. She also works as a back-up singer and as a jingle singer on commercials for White Castle, Target, and more. Andra’s solo CD is called Patchwork Story.

The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band

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.

J.T. Bates started playing drums when he was seven. By the time he was 15, he was sitting in with his dad’s big band. Since then, he has backed up countless musicians, as well as working with his own bands — Fat Kid Wednesdays and Poor Line Condition.

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.

Trombonist Michael B. Nelson is the leader, arranger, and trombonist for the top-flight Twin Cities horn ensemble The Hornheads. In addition to performing with the likes of Doc Severinsen, Chaka Khan, and Lenny Kravitz, he has composed and arranged for Prince and other international artists.

Trumpeter Steve Strand has done commercial jingles for the Minnesota Twins, Macy’s, ESPN, and the Minnesota Wild. More visibly, he is a member of Twin Cities horn ensemble The Hornheads. With that group, he has toured and/or recorded with Prince, Phil Upchurch, and the Steve Wright Big Band.

Saxophonist Kenni Holmen is a member of The Hornheads, a Twin Cities horn ensemble, and one of the areas’ most active recording and touring musicians. He has performed or recorded with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Glen Miller Orchestra, Gladys Knight, and the Reverend Billy Graham, to name a few.

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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