Stephanie Davis composes and records songs that reflect her life in Big Sky Country. Back when, she spent a couple of years in Nashville, writing songs for the likes of Garth Brooks, Roger Whittaker, Martina McBride, and Shelby Lynne. But there's no place like her home state of Montana — where her family has lived for four generations. Her latest recording is Western Bling (Recluse Records).
The Haunted Windchimes
Since The Haunted Windchimes formed in 2006, their sound — drawing from traditional folk and American roots — has attracted fans of every age, in the mountain West and beyond. "You know you're doing something right when three-year-olds are singing along," jests one of the members of this Pueblo, Colorado-based quintet. Their current CD, Live at the Western Jubilee, is on Blank-Tape Records. The band: Inaiah Lujan (guitar), Chela Lujan (banjo), Desirae Garcia (ukulele), Mike Clark (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, squeezebox), and Sean Fanning (bass).
Robin and Linda Williams
"Individually their voices can melt cheese, and in duet they can do all-purpose welding," Garrison Keillor has said of Robin and Linda Williams. For decades, this these two have spent the lion's share of their time on the road, charming audiences worldwide and playing venues from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. They first showcased their robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time, and acoustic country on A Prairie Home Companion in 1975, the same year they recorded their first album. This year, they released their 21st, Stonewall Country, songs from their musical about Stonewall Jackson.
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, most recently 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 and Sammy Davis Jr., with whom he toured for several years. He was first call for dozens of touring Broadway shows, including the first presentation of The Lion King. Gary teaches 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.
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."
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.
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).