When violinist Joshua Bell was four, his parents noticed that he had fashioned a sort of musical instrument by stretching rubber bands around the handles of a chest of drawers. And since he showed this interest in music, his folks got him a small violin and signed him up for lessons. Now Bell is regarded as one of the great violinists of our time, performing with major orchestras worldwide. In addition, he teaches at Indiana University and was recently named Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. His latest recording is French Impressions (Sony Masterworks) — a collaboration with pianist Jeremy Denk. At the piano for today's performance: Sam Haywood.
Growing up in Indiana, Jearlyn Steele sang with her siblings as The Steele Children. One by one, they moved to Minnesota and started singing together again. Now music is the family business. Jearlyn also hosts Steele Talkin', a Sunday-night radio show that originates on WCCO in Minneapolis. Her most recent solo CD is Jearlyn Steele Sings Songs from A Prairie Home Companion.
In the 1980s, Jevetta Steele — along with her family group, The Steeles — toured the world in the musical The Gospel at Colonus. The show had another successful run at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in 2010. And many remember Jevetta's Academy Award-nominated performance of "Calling You," from the film Baghdad Café. Among her solo albums is 2006's My Heart.
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 Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance (Viking) and A Christmas Blizzard (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 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.
Saxophonist Kenni Holmen is a member of The Hornheads, a Twin Cities horn ensemble, and one of the areas' most active recording and touring musicians. He has performed or recorded with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Glen Miller Orchestra, Gladys Knight, and the Reverend Billy Graham, to name a few.
Trumpeter Steve Strand has done commercial jingles for the Minnesota Twins, Macy's, ESPN, and the Minnesota Wild. More visibly, he is a member of Twin Cities horn ensemble The Hornheads. He has toured and/or recorded with Prince, Chaka Kahn, and many others.
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.
Playwright, actor, instructor, book author, and sound-effects enthusiast Leslye Orr regularly performs and tours her original plays. A veteran of Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company, Ballet of the Dolls, Illusion Theater, and others, she is also well known for her workshops on the integration of people with disabilities. Through an appointment by the U.S. Department of State, she has taken her show Hand in Hand to the American embassies in Latvia and Lithuania. Leslye and her husband, theater artist Zaraawar Mistry, own and operate Dreamland Arts, a performing arts studio and 40-seat theater in St. Paul.
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).