March 12, 2011 «archive page

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The Boys of the Lough

The Boys of the Lough "remain one of the finest bands in Celtic traditional music," according to the New York Times. For three decades, the band has taken its native musical heritage to audiences around the world. Their North American tours have brought them to audiences at this nation's premier concert venues, including Carnegie Hall. The group has performed for college audiences, playing at universities from Honolulu to Florida. In Europe, the Boys of the Lough have appeared throughout Great Britain and Ireland, at festivals in Norway, Sweden and Finland, and in many cities on the continent. Radio and television appearances include guest spots on PBS' Ramblin', and public radio's Morning Pro Musica. In 1989, they released Live at Carnegie Hall, an album featuring Garrison Keillor. They have recorded more than 24 albums (including solo releases). The band's most recent CD, The West of Ireland, is not yet available in the U.S. The Boys of the Lough are: Aly Bain (fiddle), Dave Richardson (mandolin, cittern, English concertina, button accordion), Brendan Begley (button accordion), Cathal McConnell (flute, whistle, vocals), and Malcolm Stitt (guitar).

KT Sullivan

Born and raised in the small Oklahoma town of Boggy Depot, KT Sullivan always wanted to be a performer. Boy, did she get her wish! After majoring in fine arts at the University of Oklahoma, she spent time doing theater in California before moving to New York City. She has appeared in a number of Broadway productions, including The Three Penny Opera with Sting, the play Broadway directed by George Abbott, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in the leading role. On television, she has guest starred on Police Squad, Night Court, Remington Steele and other shows. She has performed at the Spoleto Festival, La Nouvelle Eve in Paris, the Chichester Festival in the UK and Australia's Adelaide Festival. Since 1992, KT has been a regular headliner at the Oak Room of New York's Algonquin Hotel. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called her "the cabaret equivalent of whipped cream atop a surprisingly nutritious dessert." Her many albums on the DRG label include Crazy World and Live From Rainbow and Stars: The Songs of Bart Howard, which won Backstage magazine's Bistro Award. Her latest CD — the songs of Cole Porter — was recorded during an engagement at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.

Vern Sutton

Tenor Vern Sutton grew up in Oklahoma City. He remembers being applauded for the first time in first grade — for his performance in the role of Baby Bear in Goldilocks. From that day on, he was hooked on show business. Sutton first met Garrison Keillor when they both were students at the University of Minnesota. Sutton went on to spend 36 years as a faculty member at the U of M School of Music. He directed the opera program at the university, and he served as director of the School of Music. In addition to his work on campus, Sutton appeared with many major orchestras, opera companies, and musical groups and earned an international reputation for his work with the BBC, the New Opera Theatre of New York, the Wolf Trap Festival and other organizations. He has directed plays, operas and musicals all over the Midwest, including a 1993 tour of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, which was performed on seven Midwestern working farms. Vern has made frequent appearances on A Prairie Home Companion for more than three decades. In fact, he was a guest on the very first show, in July of 1974.


Dervish began in 1989 when five musicians from the North West of Ireland got together to record an album of music by local songwriters. They were so inspired by the experience of making the album, titled The Boys of Sligo after a reel from the recording, that they decided to turn the informal gathering into a working band. Over the next two years, Dervish honed their craft as an instrumental band and added vocalist Cathy Jordan in 1991. The group released their first album, Harmony Hill (Whirling Discs), in 1992, and they found themselves in high demand for live performances. Their popularity led the band to tour extensively in many European countries throughout 1993. Their constant touring made it difficult for the band to work in the studio, but in 1994 they finally released their second album Playing with Fire (Whirling Discs). The release of their two albums in the U.S. brought about performances at festivals in San Francisco and at Wolf Trap in Virginia. In 1996, Dervish released their third album, At the End of the Day, which won the Hot Press Trad/Folk Album of the Year award against mainstream legends like Christy Moore and Donald Lunny. The 22-track double album Live in Palma was recorded in Palma, Majorca’s Teatre Principal in April 1997. They decided to record the concert just a few hours before going on, but captured a performance that required little editing in the studio. 1997 brought Dervish to Canada for a number of festival performances, and 1998 started with a six week coast-to-coast U.S. tour, followed by their first-ever Irish tour. The band’s latest CD, Midsummer’s Night (Whirling Discs), was released last summer. Dervish are: Cathy Jordan (vocals); Brian McDonagh (mandola); Liam Kelly (flute); Shane Mitchell (accordion); Michael Holmes (bouzouki); Seamus O'Dowd (fiddle/harmonica); and Tom Morrow (fiddle). Dervish will perform in concert at the Cedar Cultural Centre tonight at 8:00 p.m. For more information about Dervish visit their website at

Martin Sheen

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Martin Sheen (born Ram&oaculte;n Gerardo Antonio Estévez) always wanted to be an actor. His father thought otherwise, but undeterred, Sheen finally borrowed a few bucks from a local priest and headed for New York. That was in 1959. Over the years, he has piled up Emmys, Golden Globes and other accolades for his performances in movies such as Badlands, The Subject Was Roses, Apocalypse Now, The Departed and Bobby, and on television for "Kennedy," "Blind Ambition" and his seven seasons in the role of President Josiah Bartlet on NBC's "The West Wing." For his work as a tireless activist for social and environmental causes, he has received numerous honors, including the C&eacte;sar E. Chávez Spirit Award.

Frank Harte

Frank Harte is an architect born and reared in Dublin and living on the banks of the Liffey at Chapelizod. His introduction to traditional Irish songs came from a chance hearing of a tinker who was singing and selling his ballad sheets at a fair in the town of Boyle many years ago, and as he says himself he has been obsessed with the songs that tell stories ever since. Since the days when very few people were interested in listening to the songs let alone collecting them Frank has amassed a very large collection, he is a 'story teller in song whose knowledge and understanding of the Irish tradition and his vast repertoire of songs is second to none. As he says, "Those in power write the history, and those who suffer write the songs,... and we have an awful lot of songs." He has justly been described as one of the most important figures in the Irish song revival. Words and music flow together as Frank talks and sings of the place of the songs in Irish history, the expression of the Irish people through their songs, their national aspirations, their joys their sorrows and their laughter. Frank has traveled widely talking of his songs, as well as turning up at almost every singer's session in Ireland, he has appeared at clubs, seminars and festivals in France, Britain and America where he holds an annual seminar in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, he has issued several records and is heard almost anywhere where singers congregate. There are few singers who carry as many songs as Frank Harte, or who sing with such enthusiasm and enjoyment.

Pat Donohue

Grammy™-nominated Pat Donohue (guitar) is a native and resident of St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a National Fingerpicking Guitar Champion and an innovative songwriter, with several albums to his credit on Red House Records and Bluesky Records. Nodody's Fault a new album by Pat Donohue is coming out soon.

His songs have been recorded by Chet Atkins, Suzy Bogguss, and Kenny Rogers. His latest recording is American Guitar (Bluesky). He has performed on A Prairie Home Companion for seven years.

More information about Pat and his music can be found at

Cathal McConnell

Cathal McConnell is one of of Ireland's best known and well loved musicians of Irish traditional music. He comes from County Fermanagh, an area rich in musicians, and he can trace the flute back through four generations in his family. By the time he was eleven years old he was playing the tin whistle, encouraged by his father and local teacher Peter Flanagan. At 15 he took up the flute and in 1962, at the age of 18, he became All-Ireland champion on both instruments.

Cathal is also a fine traditional singer with a large repertoire, including the long ballads and serious songs and also some more humorous pieces. Since 1974 he has been a principal member of the internationally acclaimed ensemble, The Boys of the Lough, and he continues to perform with them at major venues throughout the world. His naturally relaxed stage presence has endeared him to audiences wherever he has appeared. Cathal has produced an excellent set of instructional materials for the tin whistle, available on "Homespun Tapes."

Cathal McConnell has been featured on over twenty albums, and many of these have received top awards with nominations from "Grammy" (USA), "Deutschen Schallplatten" (Germany), and "Folk Albums of the Year" (Ireland). The McConnell/Graham duet album, "For the Sake of Old Decency" (Sage Arts, 220121) was nominated for the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and Manufacturers (NAIRD) as one of the top Celtic/British Isles releases.

Sean O'Driscoll

Sean O'Driscoll, a native of Blarney in County Cork, Ireland, grew up in a musical family that included many professional musicians. After playing extensively in Ireland and on the Continent, O'Driscoll began touring the United States in 1980 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. He is considered one of the best banjo players in Celtic music; he also plays guitar, bazouki and button accordion. O'Driscoll's latest album, Sticking Out a Mile, was just released on Castle View Records.


Solas was formed just over three years ago and has quickly built a reputation as one of the premier Irish groups in the world. In 1996, they released their debut album, Solas, followed in 1997 by Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, both on Shanachie Records. Their latest CD, The Words That Remain (Shanachie), was released last year. Solas is led by Seamus Egan, who - at age 30 - is already counted as one of the world's top Irish musicians in the world. Born in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, he and his family returned to the Old Country when he was three. He soon started music lessons, and by the time he was 14, he had won the prestigious All-Ireland championships on four separate instruments: flute, tin whistle, mandolin, and tenor banjo. His music is heard on the soundtracks for the films The Brothers McMullen and Dead Man Walking. His three solo CDs (all on Shanachie Records) are Traditional Music of Ireland, A Week in January, and When the Juniper Sleeps. The group's lead singer, Karan Casey, is originally from Waterford, Ireland. She studied classical music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and jazz at Long Island University. Her debut solo album, Songlines (Shanachie), was released in 1997. John Doyle (guitar) was born in Dublin and has become the favored accompanist for many top Irish instrumentalists. New York native Winifred Horan (fiddle) is an expert fiddler who was graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music before touring with Cherish the Ladies and the Sharon Shannon Band. In addition to being an All-Ireland champion fiddler, Horan is a nine-time Irish stepdancing titlist. Mick McAuley (button accordion) hails from Kilkenny, Ireland, where he started out on the uilleann pipes, but switched to the button accordion by age nine. He also sings and plays low whistle and concertina.


The vocal chamber ensemble Kantorei was founded in 1988 by Artistic Director Axel Theimer and is dedicated to performing 19th- and 20th-century European music for audiences throughout Minnesota. Theimer is a native of Austria, where he was a member of the Vienna Boys Choir, and is now in his 30th year on the music faculty at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. Members of Kantorei performing tonight are: Tenor I: Bret Bannon, Perry Collier, Patrick Geiger; Tenor II: Peter Bartholome, Kenneth Jenson, Lee D. Nelson; Bass I: Joe Kestel, Tony Meysenburg, Joseph Polta; Bass II: Matt Culloton, Brian Fulford, John Kelly.

St. Olaf Choir

The St. Olaf Choir was organized in 1911 by F. Melius Christiansen, born in to a musical family in Berger, Norway and later trained in Leipzig, Germany; a young man whose first interest was instrumental music, particularly concert violin, and who came to St Olaf in 1903 to build a music department. By the time he retired in 1941 he had managed to change the voice of American collegiate choral music, setting a style and standard that have given St Olaf an international reputation.

They began touring in their first year, to Wisconsin, Illinois and North Dakota, and in the next season, 1913, shipped out to Scandinavia. Since then they've seen just about every place from Tijuana, Mexico, to the Great Wall of China; from Des Moines to Dusseldorf, including Australia, New Zealand and Korea.

The current conductor is Anton Armstrong, selected by a search committee from a national field on January 2, 1990. He grew up on Long Island, New York, toured Italy with the American Boychoir in 1971, and graduated from St Olaf in 1978. He earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois and a Doctor of Musical Arts at Michigan State. He is a frequent guest conductor and lecturer throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Garrison Keillor

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).

Tim Russell

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.

Sue Scott

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.

Fred Newman

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.”

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.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

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).

Available now»

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