Live broadcast: March 3, 2018 with Caitlyn Smith, Väsen, and Mary Lynn Rajskub
This week we’re back at the famed Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul for another live broadcast. From Cannon Falls, Minnesota girl to Nashville songwriting star, Caitlyn Smith is on hand performing songs from her new album Starfire; our friends Väsen are back for some barnburning instrumental tunes; and comedian and actress Mary Lynn Rajskub joins us for sketches and stand-up. Plus: this season's 14th Song of the Week from Chris Thile; a barrelful of music from our band (Madison Cunningham, Rich Dworsky, Stuart Duncan, Chris Eldridge, Matt Johnson, and Chris Morrissey); a duffel-bag-ful of scripts from our radio acting company, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; and we’ll travel even further into yet-uncharted musician birthday territory. All that, and a new Out. In. America. segment from our traveling correspondent, Tom Papa. It’s two hours of high-wire radio you won’t want to miss.
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).
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.
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.
Sound Effects artist Fred Newman went from the storytelling of small-town Georgia to Harvard Business School and Newsweek magazine. He then veered left to become the author of MouthSounds, puppeteer for Jim Henson, and TV host of shows such as The New Mickey Mouse Club, creating voices and music for Nickelodeon’s cartoon series DOUG, a symphony celebrating the Golden Gate Bridge, and the sound of Old Faithful for Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Visitor Education Center — all with his mouth. He performs his own stories around the country.
Multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan took up fiddle as a youngster. Since then, he has chalked up a career that includes a couple of Grammys, a slew of Academy of Country Music Awards, and being named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Fiddle Player of the Year nine times. He was a founding member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band and is perennially one of Nashville’s most sought-after session musicians, performing on thousands of recordings.
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.
Caitlyn Smith’s new album, Starfire, includes a song called “St. Paul.” It’s a tribute to her home state and the place where her career took off. Now based in Nashville, this Cannon Falls, Minnesota-raised singer-songwriter was recently named one of the “top female vocalists” on Billboard’s SXSW 2017 Music Discovery. Her compositions have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, John Legend, Meghan Trainor, and others. With Starfire (Monument), she’s telling her own story.
Since forming almost 30 years ago, Väsen has become Sweden's leading acoustic trio, spreading their exciting brand of instrumental tunes to far-flung corners of the globe. As one reviewer quipped, “This music could be the most significant Swedish export since the Vikings.” The band's origins are deeply rooted in the forests and rich earth of the Swedish countryside, in the centuries-old tradition of the folk music of Uppland. With Olov Johansson on nyckelharpa, Mikael Marin on viola, and Roger Tallroth on guitar, the group released their 17th recording, Brewed, last April.
Mary Lynn Rajskub
In addition to her stand-up comedy, Mary Lynn Rajskub may be best known for her portrayal of “Chloe O’Brian” on the Fox TV series 24. But as a kid in Trenton, Michigan, she made her stage debut playing Raggedy Ann in a community theater production. On TV and in movies, she has appeared in the HBO comedy series Mr. Show, The Larry Sanders Show, Sunshine Cleaning, Julie and Julia, Night School (due for release in September), and more.
After trading his native Texas for New York several decades ago, drummer Matt Johnson played with a number of groups before becoming a member of Jeff Buckley’s band. Since then, he has worked with Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Gabriel Kahane, John Mayer, and other top acts. His own albums include Cagefighter and Law of the Land.
Minnesota-born, Brooklyn-based bassist Chris Morrissey has toured or recorded with Andrew Bird, Ben Kweller, Mason Jennings, Rosanne Cash, Sara Bareilles, and many others. And as a leader, he has released several albums, including 2013’s North Hero (Sunnyside Records). He is on the adjunct faculty at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City.