Minnesota State Fair
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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.
Jevetta Steele moved to the Twin Cities from her hometown, Gary, Indiana, and started performing with her siblings. Many remember her Academy Award-nominated performance of “Calling You,” from the 1987 film Baghdad Café. In the 1980s, Jevetta Steele — along with The Steeles — toured the world in the musical The Gospel at Colonus. The show recently had another successful run in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in Edinburgh, Scotland. Among her solo albums is My Heart, released in 2006.
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).
Anoka High School Marching Tornadoes
Anoka, Minnesota, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Rum rivers, is just northwest of the Twin Cities. There, the Anoka High School Marching Tornadoes not only play for school functions like football games, they also perform at various area parades and festivals — among them, Anoka’s annual Halloween parade. Fitting since Anoka has been dubbed the Halloween Capital of the World. On today’s Prairie Home show, the Marching Tornadoes are under the direction of Phil Snyder and Ben Bussey. The drum major is Peter Grega.
One minute he’s mild-mannered Tim Russell; the next he’s George Bush or Julia Child or Barack Obama. We’ve yet to stump this man of many voices. In other roles, Tim played the part of Al, the stage manager, in the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion and a detective in the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man. He manages his own movie review site too: russellreviews.com
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 is well known for her extensive commercial and voice-over work on radio and television, as well as movie and stage roles.
Is that water dripping? Footsteps coming this way? Car tires spinning on an icy driveway? Nope — it’s sound effects wizard Tom Keith. With vocal gymnastics and a variety of props, Tom has worked his magic on APHC since the mid-1970s. Starting out as a board operator at Minnesota Public Radio, Tom never expected that his career would take such a turn.
Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. 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 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. 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.
Richard Kriehn is principal second violin for the Washington/Idaho Symphony and serves as Program Coordinator for the Washington State University School of Music. But it’s not all classical all the time; he is equally at home playing bluegrass fiddle and mandolin. He was a member of the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble and the bluegrass group 1946.
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).