November 12, 2011

Fall Compilation

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Connie Evingson

When Twin Cities jazz singer Connie Evingson was a kid in Hibbing, Minnesota, she loved listening to her dad's record collection — Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee. Then she grew up to be a top-flight artist in her own right. Many know her work with Moore By Four or her solo performances on concert and club stages worldwide. She is the creator of Fever, A Tribute to Peggy Lee, which she has performed coast to coast, and a new Peggy Lee show called "Happy with the Blues." Connie has released eight albums on the Minnehaha Music label. The latest, Little Did I Dream, is a collection of songs by Dave Frishberg.

Susan Graham

One of America's premier opera singers, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham was born in Roswell, New Mexico. When she was 13, her family moved to Midland, Texas, a city that in 2006 declared September 5th as Susan Graham Day—in perpetuity. After completing her studies at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, and the Manhattan School of Music, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1991. Since then she has sung leading roles in the world's great opera houses — Milan's La Scala, London's Royal Opera House, Vienna State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, and the Met, where this season she stars opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. Her new DVD is Susan Graham: French Songs.

Quebe Sisters Band

"Imagine the angelic Andrews Sisters singing in top form — and then ripping into a nimble fiddle breakdown." That's how The Washington Post described the Ft. Worth-based Quebe Sisters Band: fiddlers Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe, along with Joey McKenzie on guitar and Drew Phelps on bass. The sisters' instrumental mastery and mesmerizing three-part harmonies have wowed audiences at festivals and concert halls across North America, from the Grand Ole Opry to Lincoln Center. Timeless, their latest recording, is on FiddleTone Records.

The Punch Brothers

It's hard to put a label on Punch Brothers. These five virtuosic musicians have been pushing boundaries as performers, recording artists, composers, interpreters, technicians, and stylists, since they first came together in 2006. That's when they made the album How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, which earned them a Grammy nomination. Suffice it to say, Chris Eldridge (guitar), Paul Kowert (bass), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Thile (mandolin), and Gabe Witcher (fiddle) are stirring things up with their extraordinary sound. Their most recent album, Antifogmatic, is on Nonesuch Records.

Paula Poundstone

One of the most enduring stand-up comics around, Paula Poundstone was still in her teens when she began performing at open-mic nights around Boston. She has been honored with two CableACE Awards and an American Comedy Award. Public radio listeners tune in to hear her on NPR's news quiz show, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. Her book, There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say (Harmony Books), is packed full of her quirky observations ("I need to know exactly what day I'm going to die so that I don't bother putting away leftovers the night before"), with lots more on her comedy CD, I Heart Jokes (Lipstick Nancy).

The Nashville Bluegrass Band

Since 1984, the Nashville Bluegrass Band has garnered fans worldwide — from China to Carnegie Hall, Bangladesh to the White House. And disguised as the Soggy Bottom Boys, they appeared on the soundtrack of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Their recordings include NBB: The Best of the Sugar Hill Years (Sugar Hill). The band: Mike Compton, mandolin; Stuart Duncan, fiddle; Pat Enright, guitar; Alan O'Bryant, banjo; Andy Todd, bass.

JJ Grey

JJ Grey makes music that one reviewer described as "a world-beating blend of rock, blues, and Florida swamp soul." Based in Jacksonville, he grew up in the swamplands of northern Florida, a place that remains at the heart of his songs. His latest CD is Georgian Warhorse (Alligator Records), named for the resilient Southern lubber grasshopper. "Yellow and black, and tough like an old-school Tonka toy," says JJ.

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 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.

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.

Tom Keith

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.

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."

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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