Sam Bush was just 11 when he got his first mandolin. By the time he was 17, he had won the title of National Junior Fiddle Champion for three years running. And he had made his recording debut, Poor Richard's Almanac. Founder of cutting-edge bands like New Grass Revival and Strength in Numbers, he has also been the go-to sideman for Lyle Lovett, the Flecktones, and dozens of others. The most recent of his solo albums is Circles Around Me (Sugar Hill Records).
Brian Dan Christensen
Born in Denmark and now living in Brooklyn, Brian Dan Christensen is a poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, and translator. He has published poetry and literary criticism, and has translated American writers such as E.E. Cummings, Norman Mailer, and Garrison Keillor into Danish. Brian's first novel, The Island of Nine Bridges, a thriller with a sense of humor, was published in Denmark in 2011. He is currently putting the final touches on another novel.
Stuart Duncan took up fiddle at age seven. Since then, he has chalked up a career that includes two Grammys, a slew of Academy of Country Music Awards, and being named the International Bluegrass Music Association's Fiddle Player of the Year nine times. He was a founding member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band and is perennially one of Nashville's most sought-after session musicians, performing on thousands of recordings.
When Brad Paisley was about eight, his grandfather gave him a guitar and a piece of advice: "Anything that's going wrong in your life, you can pick this guitar up and it'll go away." Seems grandpa was right. Brad is a three-time Grammy winner, inductee into the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Association's 2010 Entertainer of the Year. His latest recording, Wheelhouse, was released last year, and a new album is due later this year.
Even as a preschooler, Sturgill Simpson knew he wanted to make music. The Kentucky-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter is living up to his childhood dreams — dreams that grew out of watching Hee-Haw with his beloved grandfather, who pointed out the good performers. After years fronting the country group Sunday Valley, Sturgill went solo in 2012. His new recording is Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (High Top Mountain Records). The band: Kevin Black (bass), Little Joe (guitar), and Miles Miller (drums).
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).
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.
Originally from Albuquerque, drummer Chris Brown has been one of the most sought-after drummers in the South, since he arrived in Nashville — via New York — more than a decade ago. He has recorded and played with numerous musicians, including jazz pianist Beegie Adair and mandolin ace Sam Bush.
Bassist Todd Parks has toured and recorded with the Jerry Douglas Band, the Sam Bush Band, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, and others. Born and raised in Atlanta, he earned his undergraduate and Master's degrees in String Performance and Jazz Studies from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), where he also taught as an adjunct professor.
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).