Described by one reviewer as a "smart writer with a unique folk/rock style," Ellis is a Texas native who moved to Minneapolis at the age of 16 and quickly built a strong local following singing at open mics. She also quickly dropped her often-mispronounced last name (Bergeron). Now, with a catalog of seven albums since the mid-1990s, word of this talented folk musician has spread nationwide. Her 2010 recording is called Right On Time (Rubberneck). A new three-CD set, Wherever You Are, was released this spring on the Singing Crow label.
Born in Zagreb, Croatia, Radoslav Lorković was just three when he began putting on floor shows for his grandfather and friends, who cheered him on and showered the boy with coins. When he was six, the family moved to the U.S. — first to Minnesota and then to Iowa. And by his teens, classically trained in piano, he was heading toward a life in classical music when the blues sidetracked him and he began to turn his distinctive piano style into a career that has led him to the Canary Islands, Yup'ik villages, the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. His solo recordings include 2010's Wastelands and Casinos.
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.
Saxophonist Kenni Holmen is a member of The Hornheads, a Twin Cities horn ensemble, and one of the area's most active recording and touring musicians. He has performed or recorded with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Glen Miller Orchestra, Gladys Knight, and the Reverend Billy Graham, to name a few.
Trumpeter Steve Strand has done commercial jingles for the Minnesota Twins, Macy's, ESPN, and the Minnesota Wild. More visibly, he is a member of Twin Cities horn ensemble The Hornheads. He has toured and/or recorded with Prince, Chaka Kahn, and many others.
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).