In 1977, a young London pub-rocker named Declan McManus signed with Stiff Records, changed his name to Elvis Costello, and recorded his first album, the Nick Lowe-produced My Aim Is True. It won the Rolling Stone Critics Poll for best album. Rock critic Greil Marcus wrote that Costello "emerged ... as one of the unquestioned originals of modern pop music." Three decades later, Costello still is. As a solo artist and with his band, the Attractions, he has turned out a string of groundbreaking recordings. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Elvis Costello's latest CD, Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (Hear Music), is scheduled for release in June.
Wynton Marsalis has been described as the most outstanding jazz musician and trumpeter of his generation. He is also one of the world's top classical trumpeters, a brilliant composer, a devoted arts advocate, and an inspiring educator. He has served as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center since its inception. For his oratorio "Blood on the Fields," Marsalis became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for music. In 1983, he earned the distinction of being the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records, and he repeated the accomplishment the following year. His latest album, He and She (Blue Note), was released last month. The Quintet: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Ali Jackson (drums), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Dan Nimmer (piano), and Walter Blanding (tenor sax).
Heather Masse grew up in rural Maine and currently makes her home in New York. She has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion a number of times, often with her band the Wailin' Jennys. Now, while the Jennys take a break from touring, Heather is keeping busy with other projects. She performs regularly with her Brooklyn-based outfit, Heather and the Barbarians — a group that first formed when the members were students at the New England Conservatory of Music. Their album Tell Me Tonight was released in 2007. Heather's solo EP is titled Many Moons (Heather Masse Music). Look for a full-length album from her later this year.
James Taylor once told a reporter that Tom Rush "was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences." Lots of artists could say the same. Rush has had a profound impact on American music ever since his early days on the 1960s Boston/Cambridge coffeehouse scene, where he began performing while he was an English lit student at Harvard. He made his first record, Tom Rush at the Unicorn, in 1962. He has since released dozens of albums, but the most recent, What I Know (Appleseed), is his first studio recording in thirty-five years. Tom Rush makes his home in New Hampshire with his wife, author Renée Askins, and their nine-year-old daughter.
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.
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).