The Town Hall
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A recognized authority on American music and musical theater, Rob Fisher spent four seasons leading the Coffee Club Orchestra for Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company. He is creator and artistic director of the annual Lyrics and Lyricist series at the 92nd Street Y. For his work as music director and conductor of the Tony Award-winning Encores! series at New York's City Center, he was presented the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Special Achievement. As guest artist, he has led major symphony orchestras coast to coast.
At Wheaton High in Silver Spring, Maryland, Debra Monk was voted "best personality." They shouldn't have stopped there. This singer, actor, and writer has appeared in dozens of films, TV programs, and shows on and off Broadway, including Curtains, Chicago, Picnic, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, which she co-wrote and for which she earned the first of several Tony nominations. For her performance as "Geneva" in Lanford Wilson's Redwood Curtain, she won a 1993 Tony Award.
Singer, songwriter, fiddle player Sara Watkins was only eight when she, her brother Sean, and Chris Thile started Nickel Creek. The Grammy Award–winning acoustic trio spent nearly two decades winning fans with their innovative, genre-bending style before calling an indefinite hiatus a few years ago. Now Sara has struck out on her own. And while she had been thinking for some time about a solo recording project, the idea became reality in the spring of 2009 when she released her first album, Sara Watkins (Nonesuch).
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. Keyboard player, composer and improviser in any style, he also writes all the script themes and underscores. His latest CD is So Near and Dear to Me.
Chet Atkins called Pat Donohue (guitar) one of the greatest fingerpickers 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).