During her childhood in Aledo, Illinois, Suzy Bogguss loved music. She joined the church choir, played the piano and drums, and bought her first 12-string with the money she earned from babysitting. She moved to Nashville in the mid-'80s and paid the bills by singing demos by day and performing three nights a week at a local rib joint. More than a dozen albums and many awards later, Suzy has won acclaim in both country and contemporary music circles. Her latest CD, American Folk Songbook (Loyal Dutchess Records), is also available in book form, with sheet music, stories, and personal anecdotes.
Bill Evans is a performer, teacher, writer, ethnomusicologist, and composer who brings deep knowledge, intense virtuosity, and contagious passion to all things banjo. Author of the how-to guide Banjo For Dummies, he also co-authored Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition (Mel Bay Publications). For Banjo Newsletter magazine, he writes a monthly instructional column: "All Strings Considered." Bill's recordings include Let's Do Something and In Good Company, both on the Native and Fine label.
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.
Bill C. Malone
Bill C. Malone grew up in rural East Texas during the Great Depression, with music as his "constant companion." He went on to the University of Texas, where his doctoral dissertation became 1968's Country Music, U.S.A., the first scholarly history of the topic. His books — including Southern Music/American Music; Southern Culture and the Roots of Country Music; and Don't Get Above Your Raisin': Country Music and the Southern Working Class — are must-reads for any fan of traditional music. As author Larry McMurtry once quipped, "If anyone knows more about the subject than [Malone] does, God help them." Bill C. Malone is Professor Emeritus of History at Tulane University. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where his radio show, Back to the Country, is heard weekly on WORT-FM.
Missouri native and North Carolina transplant Joe Newberry has played music most of his life. Known for his powerful banjo work, he is also a prizewinning guitarist, fiddler, and singer. He plays with the string band Big Medicine, with Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini as the Jumpsteady Boys, and in a duo with mandolinist Mike Compton. Live, Joe's 2012 recording with Compton, mines the brother duet music of the 1930s and '40s.
Actor/musician Steve Martin has called banjo ace Noam Pikelny "a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision." And indeed he is — be it clawhammer, three-finger, or more progressive styles. With groups like Leftover Salmon, the John Cowan Band, and Punch Brothers, Noam has built a large following among music lovers everywhere. His second solo CD is 2011's Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail (Compass Records).
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 and Vicksburg Blues (a collaboration with Butch Thompson) are the most recent of Pat's 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.
Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. He is author of the book (and CD/CD-ROM) MouthSounds. Fred admits that, growing up, he was unceremoniously removed from several classrooms, "once by my bottom lip."
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.
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).