Growing up in rural Maine, Heather Masse sang hymns and folk songs around home with her family. Now based in New York, this New England Conservatory of Music alum is a one-third of the Juno Award-winning Canadian trio The Wailin' Jennys. Lock My Heart, her recording with piano legend Dick Hyman, came out last year on Red House Records.
Seven years ago, genre-bending group Nickel Creek called an "indefinite hiatus," and bandmates Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins embarked on separate careers. The Southern California trio first formed in 1989, when two of the three were barely into grade school, and went on to release a half-dozen recordings and garner a boatload of honors, including a Grammy and couple of IBMA Awards. This year's reunion tour will no doubt add new fans to their legions of old ones. A Dotted Line, their brand-new album, is just out on Nonesuch Records.
Pharis and Jason Romero
Pharis and Jason Romero met in 2007 at a fiddle jam. Jason had been a fixture on the Arcata, California, bluegrass and old-time scene. It was there that he established the J. Romero Banjo Company. In 2010, he moved the business to Pharis' hometown, Horsefly, British Columbia. Now, the two spend their days building open-back banjos, and singing and playing the old-time and early country music they love. In 2013, they released their second duo album, Long Gone Out West Blues (Lula Records).
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; O, What A Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound (Grove Press); and The Keillor Reader (Viking). He is also the editor of the Good Poems anthologies.
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. On the classical side, he has performed with numerous orchestras and was principal second violin for the Washington/Idaho Symphony.
Guitarist John Benthal has done U.S. and world tours with a wide variety of artists, including Ute Lemper, Idina Menzel, Regina Belle, sax man Warren Hill, cutting-edge ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars, and others. He has also played on the soundtracks of award-winning movies like Doubt and Enchanted, and for dozens of Broadway shows — currently, The Lion King.
Bassist David Finck has performed and recorded with greats from Dizzy Gillespie and Aretha Franklin to Tony Bennett and Rod Stewart. And he has left his stamp on more than 100 recordings, including Future Day (Soundbrush Records), his debut CD as a leader. Said André Previn: "In my opinion, there is no one who is as good a bassist and collaborator."
Warren Odze (percussion) has been in the business of making music for the past 40 years, recording and performing with artists such as Judy Collins, Peter Allen, Barbara Cook, and Audra MacDonald, and doing drum duties for Broadway productions that include The Life, Seussical, Lennon, Come Fly Away, The Wedding Singer, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Rocky.
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).