New Jersey Performing Arts Center
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April Smith and the Great Picture Show
from Brooklyn, New York
April Smith has been described as “a loose-lipped, cocked-hip gal whose music and mien could buoy the Titanic.” That said, her Brooklyn-based band, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, is making a splash with their new album, Songs for a Sinking Ship. The band: April Smith (vocals, rhythm guitar), Marty O’Kane (guitar, uke, accordion ), Mike Bryan (keyboards), Steve Purpuri (bass ), Nick D’Agostino (drums).
Bumblin' & Stumblin'
from Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Since one of their bandmates couldn’t make the gig, Alan Howe (guitar), Tim Hooper (keyboards), CJ Clark (bass), and Matt McNally (drums) assumed their alter-ego name, Bumblin’ & Stumblin’, for A Prairie Home Companion’s battle of the bands. Fact is, the boys are four-fifths of the popular Pennsylvania blues band Mike Guldin and Rollin’ & Tumblin’, whose latest release is Roadhouse Rhythm (Wah-Wah Boy Records).
Karl Stoll and the Danger Zone
from Washington, DC
Billed as “the most dangerous band in Washington, D.C.,” Karl Stoll and the Danger Zone delivers high-energy house-rockin’ blues. For six years, the group’s musical mix — original songs, sounds of blues masters such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and a hint of early rock ’n’ roll — has kept D.C.-area fans coming back for more. The band: Karl Stoll (guitar), John “Mojo” Dickson (harmonica), Brian Alpert (drums), and Jamie MacDonald (bass).
from Portland, Oregon
From Portland, Oregon, Monarques is a ’50s-style pop group that plays — as one reviewer put it — “squeaky clean elements of early rock ’n’ roll sullied up with a salty dollop of punk gruel.” Their self-titled EP is packed with feel-good sounds that take you back to a simpler time. The band: Joshua Spacek (guitar), Jon Preston (guitar), Lee Ellis (keys), Richard Bennett (bass guitar), Corey Ciresi (drums), Christine Busacca (percussion), and Talia Gordon (percussion).
Mudbugs Cajun and Zydeco Band
from Wichita, Kansas
“We are an instant party!” That’s what the Mudbugs Cajun and Zydeco Band will tell you. And folks around Wichita, Kansas — their home base — are ready to join in the fun. The idea for the band came four years ago as these longtime friends were feasting on boiled crawfish (also called mudbugs). Juliah Ewing (washboard), Carter Green (fiddle), Erin Craddock (triangle, piano), Greg Ewing (accordion), Jaime Green (drums), Adam Ewing (bass), and Brian Cochran (guitar).
Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks are longtime favorites on the New York jazz scene. Bandleader Giordano grew up on Long Island listening to 78s on his grandmother’s Victrola. Maybe that’s what fueled his passion for music of the 1920s and ’30s. By age 14, he had joined the musicians’ union. Later, he put together his own band, the Nighthawks. He has appeared in films such as Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown and Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, for which the Nighthawks recorded a slew of vintage hits. The band: Vince Giordano (string bass, bass sax, tuba), Andy Stein (violin), Randy Reinhart (trumpet), Mike Ponella (trumpet), Jim Fryer (trombone), Will Anderson (sax), Mark Lopeman (sax, clarinet), Chuck Wilson (sax, clarinet), Peter Yarin (piano), Ken Salvo (guitar, banjo), and Arnie Kinsella (drums).
Richard Dworsky is A Prairie Home Companion's music director. 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.
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).