Iris DeMent was born on the Arkansas Delta and grew up the youngest of 14 children. Her dad played fiddle; her mother dreamed of singing on the Grand Ole Opry. For a family that saw its share of hard times, music was a necessity of life, not just a pastime. Since launching her career in the early 1990s, Iris has become one of the most celebrated artists of her generation. Her latest CD is Sing the Delta, released last year on Flariella Records. Joining Iris are David Jacques (bass), Bryan Owings (drums), and Jonathan Graboff (pedal steel).
Jearlyn Steele grew up in Indiana and first sang with her siblings (as The Steele Children). After she left home and moved to Minnesota, one by one the rest of the Steele kids followed. They started singing together again as The Steeles, and now music is the family business. Jearlyn also hosts Steele Talkin', a Sunday-night radio show that originates on WCCO in Minneapolis and is heard in some 30 states nationwide. Jearlyn Steele Sings Songs from A Prairie Home Companion is her most recent CD.
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.
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 Street Corner Orchestra
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).
Trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso has lived and breathed music since his childhood in Detroit. At 11, he was already doing big band work. And by the time he was 17, he had played alongside famed cornetist Wild Bill Davison. Over the years, he has performed with groups such as the New McKinney's Cotton Pickers, J.C. Heard's Orchestra, James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band, and Vince Giordano's Nighthawks.
Inspired by his pianist mother, a Juilliard graduate, bassist Richard Moten has been a professional musician since his mid-teens. He has performed in Crescent City venues that include Preservation Hall, Snug Harbor, the Palm Court Jazz Café, and Irving Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, and he has recorded with some of the most recognized players of New Orleans jazz.
Decades ago, clarinetist Brian O'Connell left his home in Minnesota and made his way to Louisiana to study with jazz great Willie Humphrey. Later, the two would collaborate on the 1994 album Two Clarinets on the Porch (GHB Records). Brian has also performed with Doc Cheatham, Butch Thompson, Lionel Ferbos, and others.
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).