This time last year, Megan Fischer was preparing for an audition at the Mall of America, where Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company was holding an open casting call for their production of Annie. After several callbacks, the Andover, Minnesota, youngster landed the lead — her "dream role." Since she first started singing in choirs and acting in plays at church, 13-year-old Megan has performed at major Twin Cities venues, including the History Theatre and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer Nick Lowe has certainly left his stamp on popular music, starting with his stint with the pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz — a strong influence on 1970s punk music — and during his years with Rockpile. His songs include "Cruel to Be Kind" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which, in addition to being covered by dozens of other artists and appearing on the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, is still an anti-war anthem after three decades. Labour of Lust, The Impossible Bird and The Convincer are among his acclaimed albums. His latest, The Old Magic, was released this month on Yep Roc Records.
Long ago, Iowa City native Dave Moore got a harmonica for Christmas. It turned out to be his ticket to a life in music. He's had other jobs — after a couple of years of college, he traveled around and found employment as a fruit-picker, a plumber's assistant, a lumberyard worker and oil-rig worker — but music is his calling. He reclaimed Iowa as home base, and for decades now, he has entertained audiences coast to coast with his singing, songwriting, button accordion, guitar, and harmonica. He made his first album, Juke Joints and Cantinas, after he won a folk festival singing contest. The prize was 12 hours in a Chicago recording studio. His CDs include Breaking Down to 3 (Red House).
Andra Suchy spent her childhood on a farm near Mandan, North Dakota, the daughter of two talented singers. By the time she was in grade school, she was traveling around, doing concerts and festivals with her family. These days, she sings with several groups in the Twin Cities area — including the all-girl trio The Dollys. She also works as a backup singer and as a jingle singer on commercials for White Castle, Target, and more. Andra's solo CD is called Patchwork Story.
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.
Is that water dripping? Footsteps coming this way? Car tires spinning on an icy driveway? Nope — it's sound effects wizard Tom Keith. With vocal gymnastics and a variety of props, Tom has worked his magic on A Prairie Home Companion since the mid-1970s.
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).