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, and a new album is in the works.
Kustbandet (in English, "The Coast Band") is a 12-piece jazz ensemble from Stockholm, Sweden, whose renditions of hot tunes from the 1920s and '30s have enthralled fans for more than 40 years. They formed in the early 1960s, inspired by the music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and other greats. With their performance at the 1973 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, they earned an international reputation and have toured regularly ever since — from Lapland to Sydney, Tokyo to the Crescent City. Their most recent CD is Blue Rhythm Fantasy (Sittel Records). It is said that in one of his last letters, Satchmo himself wrote that he wanted to sit in with Kustbandet. Enough said.
Contrary to the group's name, Mountain Man is Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Amelia Randall Meath, three women who first met at Bennington College and went on to create a vocal trio that's garnering fans nationwide. Their stripped-down sound has been described as "a study in the simple, unsullied power of the human voice," evident on Made the Harbor, the group's 2010 release on Partisan Records.
Catie Jo Pidel
Catie Jo Pidel began violin lessons at school when she was in the third grade. But her mom thought it might be a good idea to add bluegrass and old-time fiddling to her skills. Now those styles have become her main focus. A Minnesota State Fair Teen Fiddle Champion, she has played with a number of Twin Cities bands. Catie Jo is a full-time student at the University of Minnesota, pursuing a career as a design engineer.
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.
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).