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Old Crow Medicine Show
With a little luck and a whole lot of talent, Old Crow Medicine Show went from playing their slash-and-burn brand of American roots music on the streets of Boone, North Carolina, to bringing down the house at the Grand Ole Opry. They are: Willie Watson (guitar), Ketch Secor (fiddle), Gill Landry (banjo, guitar), Kevin Hayes (guitjo), Cory Younts (mandolin), and Morgan Jahnig (bass). Old Crow's latest CD is Tennessee Pusher (Nettwerk Records).
Joe Ely left West Texas as a teenager in the late '60s. As he puts it, "I followed Woody Guthrie west and the blues guys down south; was on the West Coast during all the big hippie days." After living in Europe for a while, he returned to Texas. "I always knew the best musicians were in Lubbock," he says. Recent recordings include LIVE Chicago 1987! (Rack 'Em Records) and Hills and Valleys (New West) with the Flatlanders.
Women's Vocal Ensemble of the St. Olaf Choir
The Women's Vocal Ensemble of the St. Olaf Choir performs with the same choral excellence and artistry listeners have come to expect since the choir's founding in 1912 by F. Melius Christiansen, a pioneer of a cappella choral singing in America. Based at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, the full 75-voice St. Olaf Choir has appeared in major concert halls from New York City to Los Angeles, Scandinavia to China.
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.
Singer, songwriter, fiddle player Sara Watkins was only eight when she became one-third of the genre-bending, Grammy Award-winning acoustic trio Nickel Creek. Two decades later – with Nickel Creek on indefinite hiatus – she struck out on her own. Her first solo album, Sara Watkins (Nonesuch), was released in 2009.
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.
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. 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).