Hailing from Winnipeg and Montreal, vocal quintet Chic Gamine first got together five years ago. Since then, their fresh new sound — Motown to French pop — has captivated music lovers and earned the group a Juno Award for their self-titled debut album. Their second CD, City City, came out in 2010, and their first official U.S. release is due out later this year. Chic Gamine is Alexa Dirks, Andrina Turenne, Annick Brémault, Ariane Jean, and Sacha Daoud.
It all started when Holly Jones was five and discovered that if you knock on a neighbor's door singing a Patsy Cline song, you'll likely be rewarded with a cookie. After earning a Music Business degree and working various jobs from coast to coast, Holly is now back in her native Minnesota, following her dream and building a career as a singer-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. Dean has since 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.
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 to Italian folk singers. But it was the blues that ultimately captured her attention. She is lead vocal in an Italian blues band called Gaia Groove. Their album, Trouble & Truth, was released last year.
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.