Mayo Civic Center
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Inga Swearingen always loved singing, whether it was with her elementary school choir in San Luis Obispo, California, or performing her own songs in high school. But after joining a jazz choir while pursuing her education at Cuesta College, she knew her calling: singing jazz. In 2003, after studying with Swiss artist Susanne Abbuehl, she won the Shure Jazz Voice competition at the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival. She earned a master's degree in choral conducting from Florida State University, then returned to California, where she now performs, works on recording projects, and teaches at Cuesta College her old alma mater. First Rain, her new CD, is on the Rhythome label.
As a kid on the Florida/Alabama gulf coast, Guthrie Trapp was always drawn to music. At age seven, he was playing blues harmonica; by 10, he had moved on to guitar. Then came mandolin. "I grew up listening to everything from Taj Mahal to Tony Rice, Jean-Luc Ponty to the Allman Brothers, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan to Sam Bush and Béla Fleck," he says. Now living in Nashville, he has worked with more artists than he could have imagined back in those growing-up years, including long-running stints with Patty Loveless and Jerry Douglas.
Ray Sands and the Polka Dots
In 2009, the Polka Dots a long-running and ever-popular southeastern Minnesota polka band celebrated its 60th anniversary. Now led by accordionist Ray Sands (the only original member), the group has played venues from the Minnesota governor's mansion to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. They've even participated in the International Polka Fest in Germany. Their latest recording is Sixty Years of Polka'n Around. The band: Ray Sands (accordion),
Gene Eiden (trumpet), Nathan Davidson (sax), Kristy (Sands) Jacobson (sax), Rick Keane (trumpet), Steve Moran (tuba), Myron Muehlbauer (sax), Dave Perry (drums), Sue Sands (sax).
Katie Schaefer and Jessica Flotterud, from Goodhue, Minnesota, and Heidi Gusenius, from nearby Kenyon, began singing together in high school in 1996. Calling their trio Sweet Dreams, they have recorded two CDs Sweet Dreams of Christmas and Singing for the Soul and their performances have taken them from Minnesota to Austria, from the Kennedy Center and National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., to the Lawrence Welk Theater in Branson, Missouri. The director and pianist for Sweet Dreams is Susan Sands.
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
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.
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).