This week: we're back in New York City to wrap up our live broadcasts for the year with another show from The Town Hall, with special guests Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Marina Franklin. Plus: a hot-off-the-presses Song of the Week and a few musician birthday highlights from Chris Thile and the band (singer Aoife O'Donovan, Richard Dworsky on keys, drummer Matt Chamberlain, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, and bassist Tim Lefebvre); a selection or two for the holidays; and scripts and scenes from the Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman. Tune in on your local public radio station or watch live (Saturday, 5pm - 7pm Central Time) at!
Download the Song of the Week, "Douglas Fir"
Download the chart for "Douglas Fir"
  • Steve Martin

    Actor, author, comedian, musician -- Steve Martin has never been short on versatility. His career includes dozens of films, novellas (Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company), a memoir (Born Standing Up), and a Tony-nominated Broadway show (Bright Star). He is the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Kennedy Center Honors. A few years back, he turned his attention to the banjo. His 2009 recording, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo (Rounder), won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. So Familiar (Rounder) is his second album with Edie Brickell.
  • The Steep Canyon Rangers

    Since forming in 2000, The Steep Canyon Rangers have become one of the most successful bluegrass bands around. Their albums and live performances -- including collaborations with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell -- have earned accolades that include Grammy and IBMA awards. Radio (Rounder Records) is the band's ninth studio recording. Says banjoist Graham Sharp: "Radio travels the dial from top to bottom. The album tunes in to the rock channel for a little while, then the blues, then country, pop and, of course, bluegrass." Woody Platt (guitar), Graham Sharp (banjo), Charles Humphrey (bass), Mike Guggino (mandolin) and Nicky Sanders (fiddle), and Mike Ashworth (percussion).
  • Yo-Yo Ma

    Yo-Yo Ma's career is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, coming together with colleagues for chamber music, or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, he strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination. His 100-plus albums (18 of them Grammy winners) include The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan, and Chris Thile. Sing Me Home (Sony Masterworks) is the most recent recording from Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.
  • Edgar Meyer

    The New Yorker hailed bassist Edgar Meyer as "the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively un-chronicled history of his instrument." His unparalleled technique and musicianship in combination with a gift for composition have resulted in praise from aficionados of classical, jazz, bluegrass, and newgrass. Collaborations run the gamut from Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell to Bela Fleck and Sam Bush. Bass & Mandolin (Nonesuch), his 2014 recording with mandolinist Chris Thile, won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
  • Marina Franklin

    Born and raised in Chicago, Marina Franklin earned a master's degree in theater from Syracuse University before moving to New York City. Now the "viciously likable" rising star has emerged as one of the funniest people on today's comedy scene. She's a favorite at comedy festivals across the globe -- from Melbourne to Montreal, Nashville to Kilkenny, Johannesburg to Rotterdam. You may have caught her in Amy Schumer's hit film Trainwreck, and her TV appearances include The Jim Gaffigan Show, Chappelle's Show, Conan, The Jay Leno Show, and Louie.
  • 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.
  • Matt Chamberlain

    Drummer, composer, producer, engineer Matt Chamberlain knows his way around classical, rock, jazz, avant-garde -- you name it. You've heard him on TV and movie soundtracks, and he has toured and/or recorded with everyone from Soundgarden and Tori Amos to David Bowie and Elton John, to name just a few. His latest solo project is Comet B, released earlier this year on the Yanki Arc label.
  • 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. Avalon is his duo album with guitarist Julian Lage.
  • Alex Hargreaves

    Newest member of the world-renowned Turtle Island Quartet, Alex Hargreaves is an innovative, cross-genre violinist described by virtuoso mandolinist Mike Marshall as "one of the greatest improvising violinists in America today." He has performed on stages worldwide, including the Grand Ole Opry and the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. Among his recordings is The Brotet, with Samson Grisman, Dominick Leslie, and Nathaniel Smith.
  • Tim Lefebvre

    Bass Musician Magazine called bassist Tim Lefebvre "a musical multilinguist ... equally adept at rock, jazz, fusion, electronica, R&B, and seemingly every other genre he encounters." Indeed he has carved out a bold and progressive vision of what a contemporary bassist can and should be. He has worked with musicians across the musical spectrum and is a full-time member of Tedeschi Trucks Band.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Bruce Harris

    When he was a kid, trumpeter Bruce Harris loved to listen to his grandfather play the alto sax. He went on to earn a BFA in jazz performance from the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College. In a 2013 Ebony magazine article, Wynton Marsalis named Bruce as one of the "five important young jazz musicians you should know." He's a key player at Dizzy's Club-Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center -- and a fan favorite at clubs the world over.