Nashville-based Dan Penn is a recent inductee into the Alabama Hall of Fame — and with good reason: he helped shape the development of Southern soul music. The first chart-topping song penned by this Vernon, Alabama, native was Conway Twitty's 1960 hit "Is a Bluebird Blue?" He would go on to co-write classics such as "Do Right Woman," "I'm Your Puppet," and "Dark End of the Street." Among his own albums is The Fame Recordings (Ace Records), a compilation album from 2012. Keyboard wizard Bobby Emmons — whose songwriting credits include the Waylon Jennings hit "Luckenbach, Texas" — joins Dan for this performance.
Funny how things come together. Born in Rome, Italy, to parents from Minnesota, Hilary Thavis grew up loving music — especially folk music — from Woody Guthrie to Italian folk singers like Fabrizio De André and Francesco De Gregori. But it was the blues that ultimately captured her attention. Trouble & Truth, the debut album from her band Gaia Groove, was released in 2011.
Singer, songwriter, fiddle player Sara Watkins was only eight when she, her brother Sean, and Chris Thile started the genre-bending, Grammy-winning trio Nickel Creek. Two decades later — with Nickel Creek on indefinite hiatus — she struck out on her own, and as one reviewer put it, "Watkins isn't afraid to pluck at the heartstrings by whatever means necessary, be it a handful of well-placed words or a rosin-powdered bow." Her first solo album, Sara Watkins, was released in 2009. Sun Midnight Sun (Nonesuch) came out last year.
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.
Mike Forbes is principal tuba with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and founder of the Sotto Voce Quartet, a world-class tuba/euphonium group. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," first established in 1922 by General John J. Pershing. Mike's solo album, Forbes Plays Koetsier (Summit Records), features works for solo tuba by Dutch composer Jan Koetsier.
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).