Alison Lumley and Chrissie Natoli met on the first day of school at the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin, Texas. They soon discovered that they both had an interest in the arts as well as science. Calling their musical collaboration Avenue Elle, the two have been gathering fans in the Lone Star State since 2003.
Arnaé Batson and Tim McAfee-Lewis
Combine Arnaé Batson's four-octave range that shimmers with soul and passion with the magnetic, energetic vocals of Tim McAfee-Lewis and the sum is even greater than the parts. Batson is a member of the Agape International Choir in Los Angeles, California. McAfee-Lewis is associate director for that group.
Kaija and Brian Bonde
Kaija and Brian Bonde first met at an audition at the Community Playhouse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Now, more than 25 years later, they are the parents of four kids and founders of Comfort Theatre Company in Sioux Falls. They also perform regularly with their band, East of Westreville.
Molly Tuttle and Jack Tuttle
For Molly Tuttle and her father, Jack Tuttle, music has always been a part of family life. It seems that everyone in the Tuttle clan is a gifted instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. Molly is currently a student at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Jack teaches bluegrass music back home in Palo Alto, California.
The Half Step Sisters
Indianapolis, Indiana, duo Katie Burk and Julia Conway call themselves The Half Step Sisters. With Katie on fiddle and guitar, and Julia on mandolin and ukulele, they first joined musical forces in 2004 to develop their own take on the folk and acoustic roots music they both love.
As Ma Muse, Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker have performed their songs across the country and back again to home base in Chico, California. Complementing their harmonies with guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and flutes, Sarah and Karisha like to say that MaMuse is "what a meadow would sound like if it could sing."
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.
Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton was wowing audiences with offbeat accordion music even before he won the Nebraska State Accordion Contest in 1987. Since moving to Minnesota 25 years ago, he has headed up a bunch of different groups, including Jumbo Ya Ya and the incomparable Café Accordion Orchestra.
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).