Soprano Ellie Dehn has appeared in many of the world's leading opera houses, from the Metropolitan Opera to Teatro alla Scala and Bayerische Staatsoper. But her love of music started during her childhood in Anoka, Minnesota. She sang in her high school choir and played flute in the band before continuing her studies at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. These days, she calls New York City home. At the piano: Eric McEnaney.
Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys
After leading several popular bands in his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, Chuck Mead landed in Nashville where he co-founded the famed quintet BR549. Since then, he has formed several other groups, including Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys: Carco Clave (steel guitar), Martin Lynds (drums), and Mark Miller (bass). In addition, Chuck has served as music director for the Broadway hit Million Dollar Quartet. His current album is Back at the Quonset Hut (Ramseur Records).
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. Now music is 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.
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 O, What A Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound (Grove Press), 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).