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She started out wanting to be a jazz musician. Now when singer, songwriter, actor, stand-up comedian, and activist Nellie McKay sits down at the piano or picks up the ukulele, you’re likely hear some blend of jazz, pop, hip-hop, cabaret or vaudeville. The London-born, New York-based performer has found quite a following with her quirky musical approach. She’s nothing if not outspoken, and the causes she holds dear — animal rights, for instance — are apt to turn up in her unpredictable song lyrics. Her fourth album, Normal As Blueberry Pie, a tribute to Doris Day, was released last month on the Verve label.
Three-time Grammy winner Steve Wariner is acclaimed for his instrumental abilities, his singing, his producing, and his hit songwriting. He has charted some 30 top-10 singles, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1996. His latest recording, Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins (SelecTone Records), came out earlier this year. About his musical hero — the man he credits with jump-starting his recording career — Wariner says, “Try to do what he does technically. Then try to do it with his touch, tone, and feeling, and you’re reminded that you can’t out-Chet Chet. He was something else.”
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.
One minute he’s mild-mannered Tim Russell; the next he’s George Bush or Julia Child or Barack Obama. APHC has yet to stump this man of many voices. He was voted “Best Radio Host” by Mpls./St. Paul Magazine and “Outstanding Broadcast Personality” by the Minnesota Broadcasters Association. Minnesota listeners can catch Tim weekday mornings from 5 to 9 a.m. as entertainment editor on 830 WCCO Radio.
On APHC, Sue Scott plays everything from ditzy teenagers to Guy Noir stunners to leathery crones who've smoked one pack of Camel straights too many. The Tucson, Arizona, native and Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop alum is well known for her extensive commercial and voice-over work on radio and television. Or you might find her in a movie role or on a Twin Cities theater stage.
Is that water dripping? Footsteps coming this way? Car tires spinning on an icy driveway? Nope — it’s sound effects wizard Tom Keith. With vocal gymnastics and a variety of props, Tom has worked his magic on APHC since the mid-1970s. Starting out as a board operator at Minnesota Public Radio, Tom never expected that his career would take such a turn. Serendipity — gotta love it.
Garrison Keillor was born in Anoka, graduated from the University of Minnesota ('66), and lives in St. Paul. He is the author of numerous books, including his latest, Life Among the Lutherans (Augsburg Books) and Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance (Viking).
The 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.
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).