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," still an anti-war anthem after almost four decades. Lowe's latest album, Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, was released this fall on Yep Roc Records.
Singer, songwriter, actor, and activist Nellie McKay has amassed quite a following with her quirky musical approach. The London-born performer's 2009 album, Normal as Blueberry Pie, was a tribute to Doris Day; her latest, Home Sweet Mobile Home (on the Verve Forecast label) is packed with 13 McKay originals. For her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera she won a Theatre World Award. And the Humane Society honored her with a Doris Day Music Award, in recognition of her dedication to animal rights.
At Wheaton High in Silver Spring, Maryland, Debra Monk was voted "best personality." They shouldn't have stopped there. This singer, actor, and writer has appeared in dozens of films, TV programs, and shows on and off Broadway, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Curtains, Chicago, Picnic, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, which she co-wrote and for which she earned the first of several Tony nominations. For her performance as "Geneva" in Lanford Wilson's Redwood Curtain, she won a 1993 Tony Award.
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
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).
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, Sammy Davis Jr. — with whom he toured for several years — and the Minnesota Klezmer Band. He teaches jazz bass 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.
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. On the classical side, he has performed with numerous orchestras and was principal second violin for the Washington/Idaho Symphony.
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).