As a kid, Pokey LaFarge was drawn to the music of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, later tempered with a big helping of Bill Monroe and Bob Wills. Over the last decade, the St. Louis-based performer has won fans worldwide with his own creative spin on a mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues, and Western swing. His most recent album is Pokey LaFarge (Third Man Records). The band: Adam Hoskins (guitar), Ryan Koenig (harmonica, percussion), Joey Glynn (bass), Chloe Feoranzo (clarinet, saxophone), TJ Muller (trumpet).
Heather Masse and Jed Wilson
New England Conservatory of Music alum Heather Masse is a one-third of the Juno Award-winning Canadian trio The Wailin' Jennys. Recently, she also joined forces with piano legend Dick Hyman to release Lock My Heart (Red House), a mix of Heather's originals and Tin Pan Alley classics. Even in his teens, pianist Jed Wilson was active on the Portland, Oregon, jazz scene. Since earning a degree from New England Conservatory, he has collaborated with a number of artists, including Heather Masse.
Missouri native and North Carolina transplant Joe Newberry has played music most of his life. Known for his powerful banjo work, he is also a prizewinning guitarist, fiddler, and singer. He plays with the string band Big Medicine, with Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini as the Jumpsteady Boys, and in a duo with mandolinist Mike Compton. Live, Joe's 2012 recording with Compton, mines the brother duet music of the 1930s and '40s.
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).
Rich Dworsky and the October Boys
Keyboardist, composer, and arranger Richard Dworsky is music director for A Prairie Home Companion. He has also accompanied Garrison Keillor on U.S. and European concert tours and has collaborated with numerous other performers, including Al Jarreau and singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth. Among his many CDs is So Near and Dear to Me (Prairie Home Productions).
When Richard Kriehn turned 10, his mom bought him a mandolin; at 19, he'd won the Buck White International Mandolin Contest. He went on to play with the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble and bluegrass group 1946, and he was principal second violin for the Washington/Idaho Symphony.
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.
Marc Anderson's studies of percussion traditions have taken him from Ghana and Brazil to China and New York City. He has appeared on more than 250 recordings, performing with Peter Ostroushko, Dean Magraw, Greg Brown, Taj Mahal, and many others. His own albums include Ruby (Innova Records) and Time Fish (East Side Digital Records).
Guitarist Dean Magraw studied at the University of Minnesota and the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His first recording, 1994's Broken Silence, won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year. Dean has since turned out a bunch of dazzling albums, including his latest, Reservoir (Acoustic Music Records), a collaboration with Sándor Szabó.
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).