Fitzgerald Theater, Saint Paul, MN«archive page
Deena and Sedra Bistodeau
Since they were little girls, sisters Deena and Sedra Bistodeau have been wowing audiences and contest judges with their fiddle chops – both classical and bluegrass – and they've got trophies aplenty to show for it. Deena, a University of Minnesota student, and Sedra, still in high school, are both Minnesota State Fiddle Champions. The two often team up with their parents as the Bistodeau Family Band, whose recordings include 2006's Playing Second Fiddle.
She started out wanting to be a jazz musician. Now when singer, songwriter, actor, and activist Nellie McKay sits down at the piano or picks up the ukulele, you’re likely hear some blend of jazz, pop, hip-hop, cabaret or vaudeville. The London-born, New York-based performer has amassed quite a following with her quirky musical approach. She's nothing if not outspoken, and the causes she holds dear – animal rights, for instance – are apt to turn up in her unpredictable song lyrics. While her 2009 album, Normal As Blueberry Pie, was a tribute to Doris Day, her latest CD, Home Sweet Mobile Home (Verve Forecast), is packed with 13 McKay originals.
In the early years of A Prairie Home Companion, Bob Douglas did mandolin duties and played spoons in the show's house bands, the Powdermilk Biscuit Band and the New Prairie Ramblers. These days, he is Chair of the Sustainability Committee at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, but still finds time for music, including playing with a string band called the Tune Jerks.
Catie Jo Pidel
Catie Jo Pidel began violin lessons at school when she was in the third grade. But her mom thought it might be a good idea to add bluegrass and old-time fiddling to her skills. Now those styles have become this high school junior's passion. A Minnesota State Fair Teen Fiddle Champion, she is a member of the Whistlepigs String Band and the progressive bluegrass group Ruby Magpie.
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.
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).