Pianist/accordionist Dan Chouinard is a Twin Cities native who creates programs that blend history and music. Among these is Café Europa, about a bicycle trip he took from Naples to Normandy — accordion strapped to his bike — in search of Minnesota World War II stories. More recently, Steerage Song reflected on the thousands of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. Dan's recordings include The Siren's Song: Wodehouse and Kern on Broadway, his second volume of P.G. Wodehouse songs, both with soprano Maria Jette.
London's The Guardian called Stephen Hough "Britain's greatest living magician of the keyboard." In addition to his virtuosity as a concert pianist, he is a conductor, writer, poet, painter, and composer. Gramophone magazine named his complete Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos the best recording of the past 30 years. This year, Stephen Hough was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). Hough: Five Classic Albums, a five-CD boxed set, was recently released on the Warner Classics label.
Versatile soprano Maria Jette can sing dozens of operatic roles. She also performs pop songs, chamber music, oratorio, and show tunes. She has appeared with orchestras nationwide, including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra. Among her recordings is The Siren's Song: Wodehouse and Kern on Broadway, her second volume of P.G. Wodehouse songs, both with pianist Dan Chouinard.
Robin and Linda Williams
"Individually their voices can melt cheese, and in duet they can do all-purpose welding," Garrison Keillor has said of Robin and Linda Williams. Singing the music they love, these two have carved out a four-decade career that has taken them from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. They first appeared on A Prairie Home Companion in the mid-1970s. It was about the same time they released their very first album. Their 23rd, Back 40 (Red House Records), celebrates their 40 years of recording together.
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.
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."
Kevin Kuhn has served as guitarist for numerous Broadway shows, including The Lion King, The Who's Tommy, and currently, Aladdin. He has performed with the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, and Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as with stars including Audra McDonald, Leanne Rimes, Elton John, and Ashford & Simpson.
Mentions of drummer Ray Marchica are invariably peppered with words like "diverse," "versatile." and "respected." He has worked with everyone from Liza Minnelli to Little Richard; on Broadway, he's been the drummer for shows like Damn Yankees, A Chorus Line, and currently, Mamma Mia. His albums are In the Ring and A Different View, both on the Sons of Sound label.
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).