Live broadcast: May 26 with Kacey Musgraves, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, and Sheng Wang
This week: we’re taking things outdoors for Memorial Day weekend with a live broadcast from Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA, just outside of Washington D.C. We’ll be joined by Kacey Musgraves, Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, and comedian Sheng Wang. Our band: Sarah Jarosz, Rich Dworsky, Josh Dion, Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas, and Alan Hampton. Tune in for Chris Thile’s Song of the Week; scripts and sound effects from our radio actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; and an all-new round of musicians’ birthdays. We’ll also field your Instant Song Requests and hear from Tom Papa, who’s been Out In America. Throw open the windows, fire up your preferred listening device, and we’ll see you on the airwaves.
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.
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).
Drummer Josh Dion hit the music scene around New York City in 2004, heading up the roots-rock ensemble Josh Dion Band. Over the next few years, the group toured internationally and released several albums, before disbanding in 2009. Currently, Josh fronts garage/synth duo paris_monster, which NYC’s Deli Magazine described as “a precise, complex, and sophisticated mechanism,” delivering a sound that “could be the new face of American roots rock.”
Before Kacey Musgraves turned 10, she’d written her first song — “Notice Me” — and was growing a hometown fan base around tiny Golden, Texas. Well, the world has noticed her, all right. Same Trailer Different Park, her 2013 major-label debut, won her critical acclaim and Grammy Awards for Best Country Album and Best Country Song (“Merry Go ’Round”), CMA Awards for New Artist of the Year and Song of the Year (“Follow Your Arrow”), and an ACM Award for Album of the Year. She recently released her fourth studio album, Golden Hour (MCA Nashville).
“If anyone’s going to preach the gospel of the Hammond organ, it should be Cory Henry,” said the Boston Globe. A child prodigy who played the legendary Apollo Theater when he was only six, he is today a singer, songwriter, producer, and one of the finest B-3 players of his generation. He was part of the Grammy-winning fusion collective Snarky Puppy, has toured with artists from Bruce Springsteen to Yolanda Adams, and has released several solo recordings. The upcoming debut studio album from Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles is titled Art of Love. Adam Agati (guitar), Paul Dwayne Wright (bass), TaRon Lockett (drums), Nick Semrad (keyboards), Denise Stoudmire (vocals), Matia Washington (vocals).
Sometime during his sophomore year, UC Berkeley business major Sheng Wang tried stand-up comedy. A business degree was fine, but he wanted more creativity. He honed his craft at open mics around the Bay Area and released his first album, Cornucopias Are Actually Horrible Containers, in 2015. Growing up as part of “the only Taiwanese family in Houston, Texas” has served him well during his stint as a writer for the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. Based in Los Angeles, Sheng quips that he enjoys spending spare time visiting botanical gardens and discovering new ways to snack.