Memorable childhood experiences — piano lessons, traveling with her family, singing in the choir — gave Molly Dean a great start. Now, this Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter is combining elements of folk, pop, and blues in her music, and she's captivating audiences across the Twin Cities and beyond with her sultry, ethereal voice. Resonate is her most recent CD.
Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive, now based in Brooklyn, formed when Rachael Price (vocals), Mike Olson (trumpet, guitar), Mike Calabrese (drums), and Bridget Kearney (bass) were students at Boston's New England Conservatory. The band name is a nod to Lake Street in Minneapolis, Olson's hometown. Describing their music as "a vivid, largely acoustic, groove-driven strain of indie pop," the group has recorded five albums. The latest, an EP titled Fun Machine, was released earlier this year.
Funny how things come together. Born in Rome, Italy, to parents from Minnesota, Hilary Thavis grew up loving music — especially folk music — from Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez to Italian folk singers like Fabrizio De André and Francesco De Gregori. But it was the blues that ultimately captured her attention. A few years back, she became the female lead vocal in an Italian blues band called Gaia Groove. Their album, Trouble & Truth, was released last year.
Butch Thompson has earned a worldwide reputation as a master of ragtime, stride, and classic jazz piano. For 12 years, he was A Prairie Home Companion's house pianist, dating back to the show's second broadcast in July 1974. His first album, Butch Thompson Plays Jelly Roll Morton Piano Solos, has been reissued as a Biograph CD. And his most recent recording is Vicksburg Blues, a collaboration with guitarist Pat Donohue.
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.
Many music fans remember Steve Kramer from his days with the Wallets, a hugely popular punk polka band. (Steve was lead singer — the guy with the accordion.) After the Wallets disbanded in 1989, Steve and Bob Hest (the band's former manager) started Hest + Kramer, a Twin Cities ad-music agency.
For the better part of a decade, Lindsay Marcy has been a frequent presence on Twin Cities stages, from the History Theatre to Park Square to Theatre in the Round and others. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Lindsay currently stars in 2012's Finding Home, by Minnesota filmmaker Chars Bonin. Next month, the movie will be part of the Twin Cities Film Festival.
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).