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Jearlyn Steele grew up in Indiana and first sang with her siblings (as The Steele Children). After she left home and moved to Minnesota, one by one the rest of the Steele kids followed. They started singing together again as The Steeles, and now music is the family business. Jearlyn also hosts Steele Talkin', a Sunday-night radio show that originates on WCCO in Minneapolis and is heard in some 30 states nationwide. Jearlyn Steele Sings Songs from A Prairie Home Companion is her most recent CD.
The Del McCoury Band
When Del McCoury was growing up in Pennsylvania, he learned music from his mother, a church organist. And he never missed a chance to tune in the Grand Ole Opry. But when his older brother bought a 78-rpm record of Flatt and Scruggs, that sealed the deal. Del started playing bluegrass, and a half-century later, the Del McCoury Band has won nearly every honor the genre has to offer, including a Grammy and three dozen IBMA awards. Their latest release is Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury (McCoury Music), a retrospective five-disc box set. The band: Del McCoury, guitar; Ronnie McCoury, mandolin; Rob McCoury, banjo; Jason Carter, fiddle; Alan Bartram, bass.
Tony DeSare and Bucky Pizzarelli
Singer and pianist Tony DeSare and guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli were born 50 years apart, but in 2002, when the two met at a performance at the historic Apollo Theater, they hit it off and have worked together off and on ever since. DeSare's career began while he was still in college. He has played major jazz rooms from Birdland to the Blue Note to the Café Carlyle, and concert halls across the U.S., Australia, and Asia. His latest CD is Radio Show (Telarc Records). At 17, Bucky Pizzarelli joined the Vaughn Monroe dance band. He went on to be a staff musician for NBC and later ABC. In addition to his solo career, he toured with Benny Goodman and played with the biggest names in popular music. His many recordings include Five For Freddie, his 2005 tribute to rhythm guitarist Freddie Green (Arbors Records). On bass for tonight's performance: Steve Doyle.
Erin Bode remembers the day her dad, a Lutheran minister, came home and asked if she wanted to join the church's cherub choir. "At five years old, it was one of the biggest thrills of my life," she says. All through her school years in the Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata, Erin was a self-described "music geek." "I was the only one," she recalls, "who was excited when we took field trips to Orchestra Hall!" The family moved to St. Louis when Erin was 15. In high school, she discovered jazz and big-band music and studied trumpet. She took a degree in music from Webster University, and she has lived in St. Louis ever since. These days, she appears in clubs and at festivals across the country and beyond. Photograph, the most recent of her half-dozen albums, was released last fall.
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 Life Among the Lutherans (Augsburg Books) and Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance (Viking), and the editor of several anthologies of poetry, including Good Poems: American Places (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. Nobody's Fault (Bluesky Records) is the most recent of Pat's 10 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.
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.
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."
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).