For a small town, Okemah, Oklahoma, has produced some big talent. There's Woody Guthrie, of course. And now singer-songwriter John Fullbright is making his mark. He was already a favorite at festival campgrounds before he was even out of high school. Then he burst upon the Southwest music scene a few years ago with a live recording called Live at the Blue Door. His debut studio album, From the Ground Up, was released this past May on Blue Dirt Records.
When Holly Jones was growing up in northwest Minnesota, her mom kept wondering why her daughter was getting a little pudgy. Turns out, the five-year-old had discovered that if you knock on a little old lady's door singing a Patsy Cline song, you'll likely be rewarded with a cookie. After earning a Music Business degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead and working various jobs from coast to coast, Holly is now back in Minnesota, building a career as a singer and songwriter.
Composer, arranger, producer, guitarist Dean Magraw studied at the University of Minnesota and the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His first recording, Broken Silence, came out in 1994 and won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year. Since then, Dean has turned out a bunch of dazzling albums, including his latest, How the Light Gets In (Red House), a collaboration with renowned tabla player Marcus Wise.
Minnesota Opera Chorus
An opera's chorus can become a crowd of villagers, an army, a host of angels; its members can sing just a little or have a considerable role in the production. The Minnesota Opera Chorus — from one of the country's most imaginative and innovative opera companies — is up to any challenge, including Minnesota Opera's current production: Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco.
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.
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).