Regular Performers and Cast

Chris Thile, Host

Chris Thile - photo by Devin Pedde By the time Chris Thile turned 15, he had already been playing mandolin for a decade. He’d also started Nickel Creek with Sara and Sean Watkins, and released his first solo recording, 1994’s Leading Off. This Grammy winner and MacArthur Fellow teams up with numerous musicians in myriad styles and leads acoustic quintet Punch Brothers. His albums include Thanks for Listening (Nonesuch) 10 studio recordings originally written as Prairie Home Companion Songs of the Week. He is now in his second season hosting the show.
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Serena Brook

Serena Brook Actress Serena Brook has appeared off-Broadway, on the national tour circuit, and on regional theater stages. In the Twin Cities, her work includes productions at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, 7th House Theater, the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, and the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. The Eagan, Minnesota, native is also a voice-over artist who can be heard on national and regional radio commercials.
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Madison Cunningham

From a musical family, Madison Cunningham first picked up a guitar when she was only seven. By the age of 12, the California native was singing in church, along with her four younger sisters. Now, less than a decade later, she has established herself as a solo singer-songwriter with a keen understanding of her craft. Her EP, Love, Lose, Remember, came out last year.
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Rich Dworsky

Rich Dworsky Richard Dworsky, Live from Here’s keyboardist, composer, arranger, and music director, has collaborated with diverse musicians — from Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor to Brad Paisley and Kristin Chenoweth. For 23 years, he served as pianist and music director for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rich has also provided music for documentaries on HBO and PBS, and has released many recordings of original material, including his latest, All In Due Time.
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Chris Eldridge

Chris Eldridge Maybe it’s the gene pool: Chris Eldridge’s father was a founding member of the Seldom Scene, a group that guitarist Chris would join after earning a degree in music performance from Oberlin. He went on to start a bluegrass band, the Infamous Stringdusters, and later to critical acclaim with Punch Brothers. His 2017 duo album with guitarist Julian Lage is called Mount Royal (Free Dirt Records).
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Mike Elizondo

Musician, songwriter, and Grammy-nominated producer Mike Elizondo is best known for his 11-year collaboration with Dr. Dre, as well as for co-writing Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady,” Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova,” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” In course of his career, he has contributed to albums for artists across a wide range of genres, including Jay Z, Fiona Apple, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Ry Cooder, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, and myriad others. He is currently Senior Vice President of A&R for Warner Bros. Records.
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Brittany Haas

Brittany Haas At 14, fiddler Brittany Haas began touring with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings. Now Anger says: “Britt opens the window, gets out of the way, and the music floods through in a tide of joy.” The California-born Princeton University grad has performed with a number of bands, including Crooked Still and Hawktail (with bassist Paul Kowert, guitarist Jordan Tice, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie). Among her recordings is 2014’s You Got This (Haas Kowert Tice).
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Alan Hampton

Multi-instrumentalist Alan Hampton began his music career in Houston, Texas. He continued at New York City’s New School and then at the Thelonious Monk Institute in L.A. He has performed internationally with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, and more. In addition to laying down tracks for numerous musicians, Alan’s own recordings include Origami for the Fire (Ash Productions).
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Sarah Jarosz

Sarah Jarosz Sarah Jarosz is a gifted multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar, banjo), an expressive and distinctive vocalist, and an accomplished songwriter. The New England Conservatory of Music grad has carved out a solid niche where contemporary folk, Americana, and roots music intersect. She’s been nominated for multiple Grammys, including two for her album Build Me Up From Bones. And her recording Undercurrent (Sugar Hill) took the Grammy for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance (“House of Mercy”).
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Paul Kowert

Paul Kowert At age three, Paul Kowert started on violin, but by fourth grade he’d taken up bass, and he later graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. Now this Wisconsin-raised, Nashville-based musician is a member of Punch Brothers and has toured with Mike Marshall’s Big Trio and Dave Rawlings Machine. His American roots quartet Hawktail includes mandolinist Dominick Leslie, fiddler Brittany Haas, and guitarist Jordan Tice. Their new album comes out soon.
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Julian Lage

The New York Times has called Julian Lage “one of jazz’s breezier virtuosos, possessed of an unflappable technical facility and a seemingly boundless curiosity.” A former child prodigy, the California-born, New York-based guitarist boasts a résumé that an artist twice his age would be proud to claim. In addition to his many collaborations, Julian has released three albums as leader, most recently 2016’s Arclight. Mount Royal (Free Dirt Records) — his duo album with guitarist Chris Eldridge — earned a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
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Gaby Moreno

Guatemalan-born Gaby Moreno was singing even before she could talk. With a style that blends blues, jazz, soul, and R&B, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter received an Emmy nomination for co-writing the theme song for NBC’s Parks and Recreation. And she took Best New Artist honors at the 2013 Latin Grammys. She writes in both Spanish and English. “Spanish is more poetic,” she says, but “in English, you can describe things better.” Her latest album, 2016’s Ilusión (Universal Music), earned a Latin Grammy nomination.
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Fred Newman

Fred Newman Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. Turns out, no one is more surprised than Fred that he’s made a career out of doing what he used to do behind the teacher’s back — crossing his eyes, making sounds, and doing voices. He readily admits that, growing up, he was unceremoniously removed from several classrooms, “once by my bottom lip.”



Aoife O’Donovan

Aoife O'Donovan With her ethereal voice and substantive songwriting, Aoife O’Donovan captivates fans and critics alike. She was lead singer of the string band Crooked Still and a featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Her own recordings include Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge. Along with Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, Aoife performs as I’m With Her, whose first full-length album, See You Around, is due out in February.
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Tom Papa

Tom Papa Comedian and writer Tom Papa is one of the top comedic voices in the country. Just ask the myriad fans of his stand-up routines or Come to Papa, his weekly hit podcast and SiriusXM show. He’s also an actor whose movie and TV credits include Behind the Candelabra, Analyze That, The Informant! and The New Adventures of Old Christine, plus a voice-over role in the animated feature Bee Movie. His third hourlong stand-up special, Human Mule, premiered in 2016 on the Epix network.
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Ted Poor

Ted Poor “Adventurous, truly dynamic, and forward-thinking drumming,” said Modern Drummer magazine of Ted Poor. An in-demand session player and sideman, this Eastman School of Music alum has toured worldwide with various bands, and he is currently an Artist in Residence at the University of Washington, Seattle. For the past few years, Ted has been a member of Andrew Bird’s band and appears on Bird’s 2016 release, Are You Serious.
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Tim Russell

Tim Russell Mild-mannered Tim Russell one minute — Obama, Trump, or myriad others the next. It’s almost impossible to stump this “man of a thousand voices.” A longtime radio personality (veteran of WDBQ in Dubuque, WCCO and KJJO in the Twin Cities, in addition to his decades-long Prairie Home stint), Tim appeared in the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion and the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man.
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Gabe Witcher

Violinist Gabe Witcher was barely school age when Bill Monroe invited him on stage to play a duet at a festival workshop. Gabe has been wowing crowds ever since, whether with the Witcher Brothers, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, or Punch Brothers. In addition, Gabe is a sought-after producer, arranger, and session player, working with artists from Paul Simon and Elton John to Rosanne Cash and Willie Nelson.
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