Live broadcast: April 7, 2018 with Shakey Graves, Dessa, and Rachel Feinstein
This week: we’re kicking off our spring and summer touring season with a live broadcast from the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis, where winter is just barely hanging on. We’ll have Shakey Graves up from the southern end of Interstate 35 with dense, ambitious songs from his upcoming album, Can’t Wake Up; singer, rapper, writer, and Minnesotan Dessa will share songs from her latest album, Chime; and we’ll be joined by comedian and actress Rachel Feinstein — you’ve seen her on Crashing, Comedy Central, and The View. We’ll also have a brand-new Song of the Week from our host, Chris Thile, joined in the band this week by Madison Cunningham, Rich Dworsky, Chris Eldridge, Alan Hampton, Alex Hargreaves, and Ted Poor. Plus: we’ll celebrate our very first batch of April musicians’ birthdays; spring sketches from our acting company, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; and an update from Tom Papa, Out In America.
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).
"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.
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 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).
Newest member of the world-renowned Turtle Island Quartet, Alex Hargreaves is an innovative, cross-genre violinist described as “one of the greatest improvising violinists in America today” by virtuoso mandolinist/composer Mike Marshall. He has performed on stages worldwide, including Austin City Limits, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. Among his recordings: The Brotet, with Samson Grisman, Dominick Leslie, and Nathaniel Smith.
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.
A decade or so ago, while Alejandro Rose-Garcia was performing as a one-man band around Austin, Texas, his pals gave him a nickname: Shakey Graves. It stuck. His distinctive style earned this musician/songwriter Best Emerging Artist honors at the 2015 Americana Music Awards. Also an actor, he had a recurring role on TV’s Friday Night Lights, among other parts. Can’t Wake Up (Dualtone) is his latest recording. Described as an audacious work heralding an artistic metamorphosis, the album is due for release next month. Patrick O’Connor (guitar), Jon Shaw (bass), Chris Boosahda (percussion).
Singer, rapper, writer Dessa has made a career of bucking genres and defying expectations. She’s appeared at festivals like Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, been published in The New York Times Magazine, composed for a 100-voice choir, and performed with the Minnesota Orchestra. On the stage and on the page, her style is defined by a ferocity, wit, tenderness, and candor. The Utne Reader called her a “one-woman powerhouse.” Chime (Doomtree Records) is her third full-length album. Saam Hagshenas (keys, guitars), Kara Laudon (keys), Jonathan Marks (drums), Matthew Santos (keys).
In second grade, Rachel Feinstein found herself in hot water. She’d been imitating her teacher, and suddenly a fed-up Ms. Delastatious made her do her little act in front of the whole class. Everyone laughed. “It was my first time ‘killing,’” Rachel says. She continues to do that as a touring comedian with three Comedy Central specials, including the most recent, Amy Schumer Presents Rachel Feinstein: Only Whores Wear Purple. As an actress, she has appeared on Red Oaks, Crashing, and more.