Many know Colin Hay as the lead singer of the chart-topping, Grammy-winning Australian group Men at Work. With anthems like "Down Under," "Overkill," and "Who Can It Be Now?" the Melbourne-based band staked out a secure place in pop history. Since moving to California in 1989, Colin has continued to write songs and record his music, in addition to taking acting roles in movies and on television. He has released 11 solo albums. The most recent is Gathering Mercury (Compass Records) — 10 songs that may just be his best collection yet.
Paula Poundstone was still in her teens when she began performing at open-mic nights around Boston. Now one of the great humorists of our time, she has amassed a slew of honors, including two CableACE Awards. Public radio listeners tune in to hear her on Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. Her book There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say (Crown Publishing) is packed with quirky observations ("I need to know exactly what day I'm going to die so that I don't bother putting away leftovers the night before"), with lots more on her new comedy CD, I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Boston (Lipstick Nancy).
In 1959, a young Martin Sheen borrowed a few bucks from a local priest, left his Ohio home, and headed for New York. Since then, he has piled up Emmys, Golden Globes, and other accolades for his performances in movies such as Badlands, The Subject Was Roses, Apocalypse Now, and The Way, and on television for Kennedy, Blind Ambition, and his seven seasons in the role of President Josiah Bartlet on NBC's The West Wing. For his work as a tireless activist for social and environmental causes, he has received numerous honors, including the César E. Chávez Spirit Award.
Jearlyn and Jevetta Steele
Growing up in Indiana, Jearlyn and Jevetta Steele sang with their siblings as The Steele Children. One by one, they moved to Minnesota and started singing together again. These days, music has become the family business. Jearlyn also hosts Steele Talkin', a Sunday-night radio show on WCCO, Minneapolis. Her most recent solo CD is Jearlyn Steele Sings Songs from A Prairie Home Companion. Jevetta's performance of "Calling You," from the film Baghdad Café, was nominated for an Academy Award. Her solo albums include 2006's My Heart.
Early on, Lily Tomlin enthralled us with Laugh-in characters like Ernestine and Edith Ann; then came one-woman shows like The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe and movie and television roles in Nashville, The West Wing, and others. Since her 1966 TV debut on The Garry Moore Show, she has built a career that has garnered Tonys, Emmys, Peabodys, the Grammy, and more. When she was honored with the 2003 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser noted that "Lily Tomlin, like Mark Twain, offers her genius wholeheartedly, as she levels the playing field all across society and evokes the most healing of all responses: laughter."
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).