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).
As a kid, Pokey LaFarge was drawn to the music of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, later tempered with a big helping of Bill Monroe and Bob Wills. Over the last decade, the St. Louis-based performer has won fans worldwide with his own creative spin on a mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues, and Western swing. His latest album is Pokey LaFarge (Third Man Records). The band: Adam Hoskins (guitar), Ryan Koenig (harmonica, percussion), Joey Glynn (bass), Chloe Feoranzo (clarinet, saxophone), TJ Muller (trumpet).
The Cactus Blossoms
The Cactus Blossoms play country music the way the best always have: with an ear for universal truth in commonplace stories and for real emotion in simple melodies and beautiful harmonies. Brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum are not from the rural route; they grew up in Minneapolis. They weren't raised on country music; they listened to the Beatles and the radio and eventually stumbled on the great American folk tradition. Their new album, Live at the Turf Club, will be released in December. The band: Randy Broughten (steel guitar), Jed Germond (fiddle), Patrick Harison (accordion), Andy Carroll (bass).
Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. This Harvard Business School grad is author of the book (and CD) MouthSounds. Fred admits that, growing up in small-town Georgia, he was unceremoniously removed from several classrooms, "once by my bottom lip."
Magician, comedian, emcee (and more) Bill Arnold is known to many folks in the Twin Cities (and elsewhere) as the co-writer and co-star of Triple Espresso, which opened in Minneapolis in the mid-1990s. During his 17-year run in that show, he played to more than 2 million people in 50 cities and six countries. These days, Bill is busy doing standup comedy at corporate events and serving as an emcee at fundraisers and other gatherings.
Organist Karl Eilers knows his way around the Mighty Wurlitzer, and theatergoers at the Heights Theatre — in the Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights — frequently get to hear him play the instrument there. He is a member of the Land O' Lakes chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS), which has more than 4.000 members worldwide. Along with volunteers from ATOS, Karl accomplished the intricate restoration of the Heights Theatre Wurlitzer.
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).