Harmonica ace Tony Glover was one-third of the 1960s folk-blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover. Back then, you'd be hard-pressed to find a blues fan whose album collection didn't include their recordings. After K,R&G broke up, Glover continued to perform with Dave Ray until Ray's death in 2002, and he still does the occasional gig with John Koerner. He is the author of several books of harmonica instruction and a biography of Little Walter titled Blues with a Feeling (Routledge Press).
Howard Levy is perhaps best known for developing a fully chromatic harmonica style on a standard 10-hole diatonic instrument. Anyone who has ever picked up a little Hohner Marine Band can appreciate the feat. His musical adventures include journeys into jazz, pop, rock, Latin, classical, folk, blues, country, and more. Among Howard's bands: Trio Globo, Chévere, and Howard Levy's Acoustic Express. The most recent of his many recordings is Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica & Orchestra (Balkan Samba Records).
Guitarist, composer, arranger, producer Dean Magraw studied at the University of Minnesota and the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His first recording, Broken Silence, came out on Red House Records in 1994 and won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year. Since then, Magraw has turned out bunch of dazzling albums. His latest is How the Light Gets In (Red House), a collaboration with renowned tabla player Marcus Wise.
For Charlie Maguire, the die was cast early on: When a friend's brother joined the Navy and left a guitar behind, a teenage Charlie borrowed the instrument, paid $2.95 for a book entitled Play the Guitar in 30 Minutes, and unceremoniously commenced what would become his life's work. These days, he has a stack of albums to his credit, and he has written some 800 songs, including those for the Minnesota-themed musicals Mesabi Red, the story of a 1916 miners' strike, and Orphan Train, about the orphan children who made their way from the slums of New York to Minnesota a century ago.
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.
Andra Suchy spent her childhood on a farm near Mandan, North Dakota, the daughter of two talented singers. By the time she was in grade school, she was traveling around, doing concerts and festivals with her family. These days, she performs with several groups in the Twin Cities area. She also works as a backup singer and as a jingle singer on commercials for White Castle, Target, and more. Andra's second solo CD, Little Heart, was released this spring on Red House Records.
Pop Wagner is a singer, songwriter, guitar picker, fiddler, storyteller, and downright funny guy. How many other performers have done rope-twirling tricks on the radio? Since moving to the Twin Cities in 1971, Pop has worked his cowboy magic throughout 44 states and 10 countries. He made his first Prairie Home appearances when the show was still performed at Variety Hall, the 82-seat space in St. Paul's Park Square Court. During the filming of A Prairie Home Companion, the movie, Pop taught actor John C. Reilly how to spin a flat loop. The next day, Reilly slipped it into a scene.
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.
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).