Live broadcast: April 28 with Calexico, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Mike Yard
Tune in this week for the final show of our spring run at The Town Hall in New York City, with Calexico, Meshell Ndegeocello, and comedian Mike Yard. In the band this week: Sarah Jarosz, Rich Dworsky, Chris Eldridge, Mike Elizondo, Brittany Haas, and Ted Poor. Also with us: our radio actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; a new Song of the Week from Mr. Chris Thile; we’ll celebrate a fresh crop of musicians’ birthdays; and Tom Papa checks in from 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).
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.
Sarah Jarosz is a gifted instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, banjo), distinctive vocalist, and accomplished songwriter. The New England Conservatory of Music alum has carved out a solid niche where contemporary folk, Americana, and roots music intersect. Her fourth album, Undercurrent, took Grammy Awards for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance (“House of Mercy”). See You Around is the first full-length recording from I’m With Her, Sarah’s trio with Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins.
"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.
Musician, songwriter, and Grammy-nominated producer Mike Elizondo is best known for his 11-year collaboration with Dr. Dre, as well as for co-writing Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady," Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova," and 50 Cent's "In Da Club." In course of his career, he has contributed to albums for artists across a wide range of genres, including Jay Z, Fiona Apple, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Ry Cooder, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, and myriad others. He is currently Senior Vice President of A&R for Warner Bros. Records.
Calexico, the longstanding Tucson, Arizona-based indie rock favorite, had its beginnings in California in 1990, when multi-instrumentalist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino began their musical collaboration. Calexico, named for a Califoria border town, released their first album in 1995. Earlier this year, they released their ninth, The Thread That Keeps Us (Anti-Records), described as “a family portrait capturing their stylistic variety and unpredictability while still finding solace in limitless creativity.” The band includes: Martin Wenk, Jacob Valenzuela, Sergio Mendoza, Jairo Zavala, Scott Colberg.
Singer, songwriter, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello has been called one of the greatest song interpreters of our time. Her latest album, Ventriloquism, is a fitting showcase as she revamps 11 songs from the 1980s and ’90s, including tunes from Tina Turner, George Clinton, and Prince. She says, “The year around the recording of this album was so disorienting and dispiriting … I looked for a way to make something that was light while things around me were so dark, a musical place to go that reminded me of another, brighter time.” Jebin Bruni (keyboards), Christopher Bruce (guitar), Abraham Rounds (drums).
Stand-up comedian Mike Yard was a contributor to Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and these days, you can find him hosting the popular podcast Yard Talk with Mike Yard. Born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he was a teen when his family moved to Brooklyn. Some three decades later, he still calls the borough home. It wasn’t until after college and various jobs that he started his comedy career with a set at a Harlem comedy club. After that first time on stage, he was hooked, becoming one of the hottest touring comedians around.