February 6, 2016 rebroadcast with Paul Simon, Andrew Bird, and Maria Bamford
Photos from the Show
This week: a rebroadcast of Chris Thile's fourth go-round as our guest host, a February 2016 show at the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Paul Simon joins us for "Rewrite" and "Gone at Last," Andrew Bird performs "Capsized" and "Chemical Switches," and Maria Bamford shares a few stories and steps in as a fourth member of our acting company. Plus: Sarah Jarosz sings "Father Adieu"; the continuing adventures of Bliss McFeely -- Mando Man; a few notes about the history of Saint Paul; and a word from the Professional Organization of English Majors.
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.
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. Mount Royal, his 2017 duo album with guitarist Julian Lage, is nominated for a Grammy Award (Best Contemporary Instrumental Album).
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").
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.
"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.
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.
Paul Simon has been a major force in contemporary music since his days as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. "We are all connected on this very basic emotional level by rhythm and harmony," he has said. And he's certainly proved the point, drawing on a wide range of styles, from doo-wop and folk to Latin and mbube. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including 12 Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honor, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Andrew Bird's mother thought she might be raising a classical musician. At four, he was already studying violin, and he went on to earn a degree in violin performance at Northwestern University. But he took a more improvisational route, and now this innovative multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and whistler has released more than a dozen albums and performed at festivals and major venues worldwide. Recent recordings include 2015's Echolocations: Canyon.
In 2013, Rolling Stone included Maria Bamford on their list of 50 Funniest People -- and she took the 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic. Heady stuff for a comic who started her performing arts career in Duluth, Minnesota, at the age of 11, starring in the Chester Park Elementary production of How the West Was REALLY Won! She is the creator and star of the Web series The Maria Bamford Show and Maria Bamford: the special special special. Her new Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, premieres in April.
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.