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This week: WE'RE BACK! Our new season kicks off with a live broadcast from the Palace Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Kentucky-by-way-of Nashville vocal powerhouse and guitar hero Chris Stapleton will help us start things off with a potent blend of country, rock'n'roll, bluegrass, and soul; Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker stops by with songs of introspection and redemption, and comic Laurie Kilmartin will join us with incisive humor sharpened as a writer (and frequent guest) on late-night television. Plus: the very first Song of the Week of the season from our host Chris Thile and our ever-talented band -- vocalist Emily King, pianist and music director Rich Dworsky, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Paul Kowert on bass, and drummer Ted Poor -- a few musician birthdays for the early days of October, and your chance to influence live radio with the Powdermilk Instant Song Request. All that, and scripts, characters, and unencumbered zaniness from our Royal Academy of Radio Actors (Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and sound effects man Fred Newman) and it'll be a veritable feast for the ears on your local public radio station. We're so excited to be back and we hope you'll tune in this Saturday.
Download the Song of the Week, "Prescription"
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  • Chris Thile

    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

    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.

  • 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. Mount Royal, his 2017 duo album with guitarist Julian Lage, is nominated for a Grammy Award (Best Contemporary Instrumental Album).

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • Chris Stapleton

    Before 2015's Traveller took the Album of the Year at the CMA Awards, plus a Grammy for Best Country Album and a bunch of other honors, Chris Stapleton was lead singer of bluegrass band the SteelDrivers and rock band the Jompson Brothers -- and he was writing hit songs for the likes of Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, and Brad Paisley. The Kentucky-raised singer-songwriter's second studio album is called From A Room: Volume 1. (Volume 2 is in the works.)

  • Julien Baker

    As one reviewer wrote, Julien Baker's music "seems to demand a certain kind of pin-drop attention." True. In the past few years, the fan base has snowballed for this Memphis-born singer-songwriter. After starting the band Forrister when she was 14, Julien released her first solo album, Sprained Ankle, in 2015. Her follow-up, Turn Out The Lights (Matador Records), is due for release later this month.

  • Laurie Kilmartin

    When Laurie Kilmartin was a kid, she wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. Lucky for comedy fans, she got hooked on making people laugh. She's an Emmy-nominated writer for CONAN, co-author of a New York Times best-seller, co-host of podcast The Jackie and Laurie Show, and stand-up comedian who has appeared on CONAN, Last Comic Standing, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Comedy Central. Her new book, Dead People Suck, will be released next year.

  • Emily King

    Hailing from New York City, Emily King is a Grammy-nominated artist with pop, indie, and soul influences that she hones with carefully crafted compositions. Her childhood often included traveling with her parents, jazz duo Marion Cowings and Kim Kalesti. And by the time Emily was 16, she was focused on her own singing career. Her latest recording is 2016's critically acclaimed The Switch: Deluxe Edition.