This week: we're making the drive west from Philadelphia to Denver, Colorado for a live broadcast from the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, with special guests Trey Anastasio, The Staves, and Tig Notaro. Plus: Chris Thile unveils the latest Song of the Week with help from our band (vocalist Aoife O'Donovan, Rich Dworsky on keys, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas on fiddle, bassist Paul Kowert, and drummer Ted Poor); our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; and a rundown of last week's notable musician birthdays. Join us on the radio Saturday at 5pm Central.
Download the "Smartphone" script
Download the chart for "The Elephant in the Room"
  • Trey Anastasio

    Trey Anastasio may be best known as co-founder and frontman of the rock band Phish -- whose 13th studio album, Big Boat, is just out on the JEMP label. But the guitarist-composer has also garnered acclaim as a solo artist; his 10th recording, Paper Wheels (Rubber Jungle/ATO), came out last year. He has performed with the Vermont Youth Orchestra and the Grateful Dead, Oysterhead, and Dave Matthews & Friends. And he collaborated on the music for the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Hands on a Hardbody. In 2003, he landed on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists -- no surprise to his myriad fans.
  • The Staves

    The Staves are the Staveley-Taylor sisters -- Emily, Jessica, and Camilla -- who began singing together as youngsters growing up in Watford, England, just north of London. Soon they were performing in neighborhood pubs, and in 2012 they released their first album, Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic). They followed with If I Was in 2105, and a three-song EP, Sleeping in a Car (Nonesuch), last spring. After taking a shine to the Upper Midwest at the 2015 Eaux Claires Music Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the three now make their home in the Twin Cities.
  • Tig Notaro

    Originally from Mississippi, Tig Notaro is a standup comedian, storyteller, and writer. She writes, produces, and stars in the semisautobiographical comedy series One Mississippi, which premiered this fall through Amazon Studios. Earlier this year, she released her memoir, I'm Just A Person (HarperCollins). Her HBO special Boyish Girl Interrupted has been nominated for an Emmy, and you can also see Tig as "Barb" on the awardswinning series Transparent. Said the Washington Post: "Her insights about life can be cutting, sad, funny. And if you're not laughing at yourself, you're not listening."
  • 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.
  • Chris Eldridge

    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 the bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters, and later to critical acclaim with Punch Brothers.
  • Brittany Haas

    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 her trio, Haas Kowert Tice (with bassist Paul Kowert and guitarist Jordan Tice). Among her recordings is 2014's You Got This (Haas Kowert Tice).
  • Paul Kowert

    At age three, Paul Kowert started on violin, but by fourth grade he'd taken up bass, and he later graduated from The Curtis Institute of Music. Now this Wisconsin-raised, Nashville-based musician is a member of Punch Brothers and has toured with Mike Marshall's Big Trio and Dave Rawlings Machine. You Got This is his 2014 recording with American roots trio Haas Kowert Tice.
  • Aoife O'Donovan

    With her ethereal voice and substantive songwriting, Aoife O'Donovan captivates fans and critics alike. She was lead singer of the string band Crooked Still, and was a featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Her own recordings include 2016's In the Magic Hour, follow-up to her critically acclaimed solo debut, Fossils. Her most recent release, Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge, is a collection of original songs and covers, recorded live at The Sinclair.
  • 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.
  • 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."