This week: we complete our fall trifecta of live broadcasts from the famed Fitzgerald Theater, before heading off to Philadelphia on November 12. Bassist, singer, and composer Esperanza Spalding brings her unique gifts and versatile ensemble to the Fitz for music that will make your radio dance right off the shelf. Dawes add their road-honed Southern California rock'n'roll to a Hallowe'en cauldron that's bubbling over; and comedian and writer Aparna Nancherla joins us from the Biggest Apple. Plus: host Chris Thile will debut another original song of the week with The First-Call Radio Players (singer Gaby Moreno, Rich Dworsky on keys, bassist Alan Hampton, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, guitarist Julian Lage, and Ted Poor on drums) and there'll be comedy, drama, and assorted nonsense from our extra-Royal Academy of Radio Actors -- Serena Brook, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman. It's two hours of live radio on an autumn Saturday evening, and a perfect warm-up for the World Series, if you like that kind of thing. Catch the show on your local public radio station or watch live (Saturday, 5pm - 7pm Central Time) at
Download the Song of the Week, "The Dark Half of the Year"
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  • Esperanza Spalding

    "Music surges from every cell in Esperanza Spalding's body," wrote a reviewer in the Chicago Tribune. Seems it's been that way since she was a kid growing up in Portland, Oregon. At four, she saw Yo-Yo Ma on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and knew right then that a life in music was for her. Now, a degree from the Berklee School of Music (where she also taught), five albums, and four Grammys later, this bassist-singer-composer-arranger released her most recent recording, Emily's D+Evolution (Concord), earlier this year. Justin Tyson (drums), Lucas del Calvo (guitar), Corey King (background vocals/keyboards), Starr Busby (background vocals), Rachael Duddy (background vocals).
  • Dawes

    Dawes -- Taylor Goldsmith (guitars and vocals), Griffin Goldsmith (drums), Wylie Gelber (bass), and Lee Pardini (keyboards) -- formed in Southern California in 2009, the name a salute to the brothers Goldsmith's grandfather. The Los Angeles-based group often drew comparisons with the 1970s musicians of Laurel Canyon, but with the recent release of We're All Gonna Die (HUB Records), their fifth studio album, they've moved away from their folk-rock beginnings to a much bolder, higher-energy sound. "This was an opportunity for us to be a new band," explains Taylor Goldsmith. "Not just a rock band, not just an alternative band, but a new band."
  • Aparna Nancherla

    You'll find Aparna Nancherla on Variety's 2016 list of 10 Comics to Watch (and on lots of other best-of lists too). You might also find her in the cast of Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer, on the panel of NPR's Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me! or hosting the long-running popular underground New York comedy show Whiplash. She has written for Late Night with Seth Meyers and performed her stand-up comedy in venues coast to coast. Her new album is Just Putting It Out There (Secretly Canadian).
  • Chris Thile

    Chris Thile, A Prairie Home Companion's new host, made his first appearance on the show in 1996. He was 15 and 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 now collaborates with many musicians in myriad styles and leads acoustic quintet Punch Brothers. Thile's solo albums include Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 (Nonesuch).
  • Richard Dworsky

    Keyboardist, composer, arranger, and longtime Prairie Home Companion music director Richard Dworsky has collaborated with such diverse musicians as Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, Brad Paisley, Kristin Chenoweth, and Sheryl Crow. He has provided music for documentaries on HBO and PBS, and has released many recordings of original material, including his latest, All In Due Time.
  • Alan Hampton

    Multi-instrumentalist Alan Hampton began his musical career in Houston, Texas, where he attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He continued at the New School in New York City, and finally the Thelonious Monk Institute in LA, where he studied bass with Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, and John Clayton, and performed internationally with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Wayne Shorter. In addition to laying down tracks for numerous musicians, Alan's own recordings include Origami for the Fire (Ash Productions).
  • Alex Hargreaves

    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, and "the best young jazz violinist in America" by Matt Glaser, artistic director of Berklee College of Music, American Roots Program. He has performed on stages worldwide, including Austin City Limits, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. Among his recordings are his debut album, Prelude, and, more recently, The Brotet, with Samson Grisman, Dominick Leslie, and Nathaniel Smith.
  • Julian Lage

    The New York Times has called guitarist Julian Lage "one of jazz's breezier virtuosos, possessed of an unflappable technical facility and a seemingly boundless curiosity." A former child prodigy, he was only five when began playing guitar; at eight, he was the subject of a 1997 documentary appropriately called Jules at Eight; by the time he was 13, he had appeared on stage at the Grammys. Now in his late 20s, he boasts a resume that an artist twice his age would be proud to claim. He has released three albums as a leader, most recently 2016's Arclight (Mack Avenue Records).
  • Gaby Moreno

    Guatemalan-born Gaby Moreno was singing even before she could talk. With a style that blends blues, jazz, soul, and R&B, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter received an Emmy nomination for cowriting the theme song for NBC's Parks and Recreation. And she took Best New Artist honors at the 2013 Latin Grammys. Gaby's recordings include Postales and a Christmas album, Posadas, both on the Metamorfosis label. Her latest is Ilusion (Universal Music).
  • 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 in Seattle. Wounded Caroline is the 2013 album from Ted's group Mt. Varnum.
  • Serena Brook

    After she picked up her diploma from the University of Minnesota Duluth, actress, voice-over artist, and Eagan, Minnesota, native Serena Brook was off to New York City, where she spent five years performing in Off-Broadway shows and with national and regional touring companies. Now living in the Twin Cities, she has worked with Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and 7th House Theater.
  • Tim Russell

    Mild-mannered Tim Russell one minute -- Obama, Trump, or myriad others the next. It's almost impossible to stump this man of many voices. Says fellow Prairie Home Companion actor Sue Scott, "He does a better Ira Glass than Ira Glass." A well-known Twin Cities radio personality and voice actor, Tim appeared in the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion and the Coen brothers' A Serious Man.
  • Sue Scott

    Since 1992, Prairie Home fans have heard Sue Scott play everything from well-intentioned moms and ditzy teenagers to Guy Noir stunners and leathery crones who've smoked one pack of Camel straights too many. She recently climbed back on stage in a variety of theater roles. She is well known for her commercial and voice-over work on radio and television, as well as movie roles, including the part of "Donna" in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion.
  • 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."