Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks are renowned on the New York scene for their commitment to preserving and authentically presenting 1920s jazz. Each piece they perform is inspired by, and arranged from, original recordings from greats of the era. The Nighthawks are Vince Giordano, Andy Stein, Brad Shigeta, Mark Lopeman, Dan Levinson, Dave Brown, Randy Sandke, Dan Block, Peter Yarin, Mark McCarron and John Gill. They were recently featured in the movie The Aviator and can be heard every Monday and Tuesday at Charley O's Times Squre Grill on Broadway and 49th.
She is a 1999 recipient of the National Medal of the Arts & Humanities from President & Mrs. Clinton, the National Visionary Award from the Kennedy Center, the first Duke Ellington Fellowship Award from Yale University, the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Library of Congress, the International Folk Alliance, the World Folk Music Association, and Presidente d'Honeurs from the Cognac (France) Blues Festival as well as Grammy and W.C. Handy Award nominations in addition to numerous Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from various universities. Odetta was born in Birmingham in 1930. From there, her family moved to Los Angeles, where she began studying classical voice. In 1944 she began a four year association performing at the famed Turnabout Theater in Hollywood, and in 1949 she joined the road touring company of Finians' Rainbow. While the show performed in San Francisco she became exposed to folk music. In 1950, she made her first professional appearance as a folk singer at San Francisco's "Tin Angel." Those present said she seemed destined to become a cultural force. She has since released dozens of recordings in the decades since. As a leading voice of social activism around the world, she participated in the Civil Rights marches in Selma, at the 1963 and 1983 Marches on Washington, and on President Kennedy's Civil Rights TV Special "Dinner With The President." In 1995, she was invited to Beijing, China as an Elder to the International Women's Conference. To this day, she remains a revered voice of social activism around the world.
André Watts was born in Nuremburg, Germany, in 1946; the son of a career soldier, Sergeant Herman Watts, and a Hungarian mother, Maria Alexandra Gusmits. He began studying the violin at age four and at six decided that he preferred the piano; Maria, a pianist herself, gave him his first lessons. They lived in Europe until he was eight, when his father was reassigned to the United States and they moved to Philadelphia. There he went to Lincoln Preparatory School and the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He entered his first competition at age nine, for a spot in one of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Children's Concerts. Watts won the competition and launched his career. In 1963 was introduced to a national television audience by Leonard Bernstein. Three weeks later he was invited to substitute for Glenn Gould in a scheduled New York Philharmonic concert; he played the Liszt E-flat Concerto so well the whole orchestra stood with the audience in applause. He was soon filling a hundred concerts dates annually; he has gone from protégé to sensation to one of the world's most in demand masters, both as a concert soloist and as a recitalist.
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.
Andy Stein (violin, saxophone) has far-flung musical leanings: He was a founding member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen; he collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson; and he has recorded with dozens of artists, from Itzhak Perlman to Nellie McKay.
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).