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In 1986, the Klezmatics erupted out of New York City's East Village with an exciting brand of klezmer music, steeped in Eastern European Jewish tradition and spirituality but incorporating contemporary themes and eclectic influences - Arab, African, Latin and Balkan rhythms, jazz and punk. Their many recordings include Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah and the Grammy-winning Wonder Wheel, both on JMG Records. The Klezmatics are Matt Darriau (kaval, clarinet, saxophone), Lisa Gutkin (violin), Frank London (trumpet, keyboards), Paul Morrissett (bass, tsimbl), Lorin Sklamberg (accordion, guitar, piano), and Richie Barshay (percussion).
Mandolinist/composer Peter Ostroushko grew up listening to tunes played at family get-togethers in the Ukrainian community of northeast Minneapolis. It's the music that provides the basis for many of his compositions. His first recording session was an uncredited mandolin set on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.Since then, his works have been performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, among others, and his music has been featured on public television specials such as Ken Burns' film The National Parks and Minnesota: A History of the Land, for which he won an Emmy. His new all-instrumental CD, When the Last Morning Glory Blooms, was released earlier this year on Red House Records.
Alexander McCall Smith
Author of more than 60 books, Alexander McCall Smith is best known for his acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the 44 Scotland Street series, and the Isabel Dalhousie series, including The Charming Quirks of Others, just published by Pantheon Books. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. Born in southern Africa, he now lives in Scotland. He was made a CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire – for his services to literature.
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.
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.
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.
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).