December 19, 2009

Sing a Song of Gladness and Cheer

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Guest Information

Norah Jones

Norah Jones' first album, Come Away with Me, sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. It also won eight Grammy awards. Quite a debut for the kid who grew up in Grapevine, Texas, dreaming of being a jazz singer. She finally made the move to New York, where she started writing songs “sitting on the bed in my little apartment on Thirteenth Street.” With her fourth album, The Fall, released last month on the Blue Note label, Jones takes a new, more rock-oriented turn. “I wanted the grooves to be more present and heavy, she says. “And I also just wanted to do something different.” Her band for this performance: Sasha Dobson (guitar, banjo, percussion), Smokey Hormel (guitar), John Kirby (keyboards), Gus Seyffert ((bass), and Jon Waronker (drums).

Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux was born in Athens, Georgia, and raised in Southern California, New York City, and Paris. As a teenager, she was drawn to the music of buskers she heard on the streets of Paris. She wound up joining a group called the Lost Wandering Blues & Jazz Band, which toured Europe for several years. She was 22 when she released her first album, Dreamland, which Time magazine called “the most exciting release by a new singer this year (1996).” The latest recording from the Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter is the Grammy-nominated Bare Bones (Rounder). Joining Peyroux for tonight’s show are Barak Mori (bass), Darren Beckett (drums), Gary Versace (keyboard), and Jon Herington (guitar).

The Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

Founded in 1984 by Artistic Director and Conductor Nikolai Kachanov, the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York — known for its versatility and heartfelt singing — has become an important musical presence in the greater New York City region. Their repertoire spans many centuries and styles, from ancient liturgical chants, through Russian Baroque, classical and folk music, and world premieres by leading contemporary composers. Among their CDs is a critically acclaimed recording of Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and Yuri Yukechev's My Heart Is Ready: From the Psalms of David, both on the RMASA label.

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, often with her band the Wailin' Jennys. In 2009, while the Jennys took a break from touring, Heather kept busy with other projects, like performing 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. Heather's new solo CD is titled Bird Song (Red House Records). The Jennys' latest is The Wailin' Jennys —Live (Red House).

Martin Sheen

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Martin Sheen (born Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez) always wanted to be an actor. His father thought otherwise, but undeterred, Sheen finally borrowed a few bucks from a local priest and headed for New York. That was in 1959. Over the years, he has piled up Emmys, Golden Globes and other accolades for his performances in movies such as Badlands, The Subject Was Roses, Apocalypse Now, The Departed, and Bobby, and on television for “Kennedy,” “Blind Ambition,” and his seven seasons in the role of President Josiah Bartlet on NBC’s “The West Wing.” For his work as a tireless activist for social and environmental causes, he has received numerous honors, including the César E. Chávez Spirit Award.

Tim Russell

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.

Sue Scott

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.

Fred Newman

Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. He can be seen daily on public television’s 
Between the Lions, and he is author of the book (and CD/CD-ROM) MouthSounds. Fred admits that, growing up, he was unceremoniously removed from several classrooms, “once by my bottom lip.”

Garrison Keillor

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.

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.

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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