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Calling themselves Storyhill, acoustic duo Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson are longtime musical collaborators beginning when they started performing together as teenagers in Bozeman, Montana. (Chris still makes his home in Montana; John is based in Minnesota.) Their 2007 recording – simply titled Storyhill – was named Best CD of the Year by the Indie Acoustic Project and led to their winning the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition. Their latest recording is Shade of the Trees (Red House Records).
Roy Blount Jr.
The New York Times Book Review has called Roy Blount Jr. "one of America's wittiest writers." Readers of his articles in The Oxford American, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Vanity Fair, GQ, National Geographic, Rolling Stone and The New York Times could tell you that. So could fans of his 21 books, including the most recent, Alphabet Juice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). He has been honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library and a Literary Light by the Boston Public Library. On radio, he is a panelist on NPR's news quiz show, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. Born in Indianapolis and raised in Decatur, Georgia, Blount makes his home in western Massachusetts and Manhattan.
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.
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.
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 Twin Cities groups, including the all-girl trio The Dollys. Andra's solo recording is called Patchwork Story.
Butch Thompson has earned a worldwide reputation as a master of ragtime, stride, and classic jazz piano. For 12 years, he was A Prairie Home Companion's house pianist, dating back to the show's second broadcast in July 1974. Among his many recordings is the holiday favorite Bethlehem After Dark (Daring).
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.
Trombonist Michael B. Nelson is the leader, arranger, and trombonist for the top-flight Twin Cities horn ensemble The Hornheads. In addition to performing with the likes of Doc Severinsen, Chaka Khan, and Lenny Kravitz, he has composed and arranged for Prince and other international artists.
Trumpeter Steve Strand has done commercial jingles for the Minnesota Twins, Macy's, ESPN, and the Minnesota Wild. More visibly, he is a member of Twin Cities horn ensemble The Hornheads. With that group, he has toured and/or recorded with Prince, Phil Upchurch, and the Steve Wright Big Band.Saxophonist Kenni Holmen is a member of The Hornheads, a Twin Cities horn ensemble, and one of the areas' most active recording and touring musicians. He has performed or recorded with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Glen Miller Orchestra, Gladys Knight, and the Reverend Billy Graham, to name a few.
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).