January 30, 2016 rebroadcast with Ben Folds, Brandi Carlile, and Ed Helms
Photos from the Show
Video from the Show
This week: we're looking back to January 2016 with a rebroadcast of Chris Thile's third turn as our guest host, at the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Ben Folds joined us for "Capable of Anything" and "Not a Fan," and teamed up with Chris for "Army"; Ed Helms stopped by as a member of our acting company and tried his hand at a little storytelling; and Brandi Carlile performed "The Eye" and led everyone on "Lovesick Blues" to close out the proceedings. Plus: tunes from Chris and his fellow Punch Brothers, along with our friend Sarah Jarosz; scripts from our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman; and a few reminders that in Minnesota, even as summer nears, winter is always on the horizon.
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.
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.
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").
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.
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."
Since 1992, Prairie Home fans have heard Sue Scott play everything from well-intentioned moms and ditzy teenagers to Guy Noir stunners and leathery crones who've smoked one pack of Camel straights too many. She recently climbed back on stage in a variety of theater roles. She is well known for her commercial and voice-over work on radio and television, as well as movie roles, including the part of "Donna" in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion.
Singer-songwriter-producer Ben Folds first found mainstream success as the leader of the critically acclaimed Ben Folds Five. The versatile pianist has gone on to have a highly successful solo career -- live and studio albums, music for film and TV, and numerous collaborations with artists from Sara Bareilles to William Shatner. For his latest recording, So There (New West Records), he teamed up with the inventive chamber ensemble yMusic.
In her teens, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile sang backup for an Elvis impersonator, but when she got her first guitar -- a broken and abandoned Harmony Sovereign -- she was soon playing coffeehouses, parties, and restaurants in the Seattle area. Since she released her first album more than a decade ago, her fan base has mushroomed. Her latest recording is The Firewatcher’s Daughter (ATO Records). Brandi is joined by Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth.
Atlanta-born, L.A.-based Ed Helms is an actor, comedian, writer, producer, musician, and then some. Not only is he known for his hilarious work on The Daily Show, his role as Andy Bernard on The Office, films like the Hangover trilogy, Vacation, and Love the Coopers, he is also one-third of The Lonesome Trio, a bluegrass band that had its beginnings decades ago when Ed was a student at Oberlin College. The trio’s self-titled debut album was released last summer on the Sugar Hill label.
It's hard to put a label on Punch Brothers. These five virtuosic musicians have been pushing boundaries as performers, recording artists, composers, interpreters, technicians, and stylists, since they first came together in 2006. That's when they made the album How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, which earned them a Grammy nomination. Suffice it to say, Chris Eldridge (guitar), Paul Kowert (bass), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Thile (mandolin), and Gabe Witcher (fiddle) are stirring things up with their extraordinary sound. Their new album is The Phosphorescent Blues (Nonesuch).