The Fitzgerald Theater
Saint Paul, MN«archive page
In 1977, a young London pub-rocker named Declan McManus signed with Stiff Records, changed his name to Elvis Costello, and recorded his first album, the Nick Lowe-produced My Aim Is True. It won the Rolling Stone Critics Poll for best album. Rock critic Greil Marcus wrote that Costello "emerged ... as one of the unquestioned originals of modern pop music." Three decades later, Costello still is. As a solo artist and with his band, the Attractions, he has turned out a string of groundbreaking recordings. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Elvis Costello’s latest CD is Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (Hear Music).
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).
Erica Rhodes starred in the 2008 indie horror film Plague Town, which has shown in festivals and theaters nationwide and beyond, and she has a lead role in Go West, scheduled for release this year. Among other projects, she stars in the farcical, improv Web series "Upstairs Girls," the story of a sweet girl named Sandy and her roommates. (Sandy now has her own Web channel.) Erica currently makes her home in Los Angeles.
Jearlyn Steele grew up in Indiana and first sang with her siblings (as The Steele Children). After she left home and moved to Minnesota, one by one the rest of the Steele kids followed. They started singing together again as The Steeles, and now music is the family business. Jearlyn also hosts Steele Talkin’, a Sunday-night radio show that originates on WCCO in Minneapolis and is heard in some 30 states nationwide. Jearlyn Steele Sings Songs from A Prairie Home Companion is her most recent CD.
Plans change. Jevetta Steelefirst moved to the Twin Cities from Gary, Indiana (her childhood home) to become a criminal lawyer. Instead, she and her sister Jearlyn — along with their siblings — turned to performing. In the 1980s, she toured the world (including Broadway) in the musical The Gospel at Colonus. And many remember her Academy Award-nominated performance of the song "Calling You," from the film Baghdad Café. She has recorded several solo albums, including My Heart.
Robin and Linda Williams
Robin and Linda Williams first appeared on A Prairie Home Companion in 1975, the same year they recorded their first album. In 2008, they released their 20th, Buena Vista (Red House Records). For more than three decades, these two have charmed listeners worldwide with their robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time, and acoustic country. Robin and Linda claim that they make their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but truth be told, they spend the lion’s share of their time on the road. And fans at every stop are glad they do.
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.
A well-known artist in his own right, trombonist Dave Bargeron also has played with Clark Terry’s Big Band, Doc Severinsen’s Band, and Gil Evans’ Orchestra. For many years, he was a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears, with whom he recorded 11 albums.
At age 11, trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso was already doing big band work. And by the time he was 17, he had played alongside famed cornetist Wild Bill Davison. He has performed with groups such as the New McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, J.C. Heard’s Orchestra, James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band and Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.
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).