Growing up in Aledo, Illinois, Suzy Bogguss loved music. She joined the church choir, played the piano and drums, and bought her first 12-string with the money she earned from babysitting. She moved to Nashville in the mid-'80s and paid the bills by singing demos by day and performing three nights a week at a local rib joint. More than a dozen albums and many awards later, Suzy has won acclaim in both country and contemporary music circles. Her latest CD is American Folk Songbook (Loyal Dutchess Records).
Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys
After leading several popular 1980s cult bands in and around his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, Chuck Mead landed in Nashville where he co-founded the famed quintet BR549. Since then, he has formed several other groups, including Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys. He also served as music director for the Broadway hit Million Dollar Quartet. His latest CD — and second solo album — is Back at the Quonset Hut (Ramseur Records). The Grassy Knoll Boys are Carco Clave, Mark Miller, and Martin Lynds, with special guests Buddy Spicher and Harold Bradley.
Four-time Grammy winner Steve Wariner is an acclaimed singer, songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist who has dozens of albums to his credit. His early career was propelled by his musical hero, Chet Atkins, about whom he says: "Try to do what he does technically. Then try to do it with his touch, tone, and feeling, and you're reminded that you can't out-Chet Chet. He was something else." The latest CD from this Music City Walk of Famer is Guitar Laboratory (SelecTone Records).
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. Singing the music they love, these two have carved out a decades-long career that has taken them 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 released their first album. They have just recorded their 22nd, These Old Dark Hills (Red House Records).
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, and Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny (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.
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).