This week: while we take a Thanksgiving break to prepare for our two upcoming shows in The Big Apple, we're presenting a rebroadcast of our February 6 show from the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Paul Simon visits to sing "Duncan" and debut a new song, "Wristband," with a surprising twist; multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird performs "Capsized" and "Three White Horses"; and comedian Maria Bamford shares a few thoughts on marriage. Plus: our host Chris Thile sings about football and quarterback Peyton Manning in "Omahallelujah"; our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman, with a message from the Professional Organization of English Majors; and even more music from Chris, Sarah Jarosz, and members of Punch Brothers.
  • Paul Simon

    Paul Simon has been a major force in contemporary music since his days as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. "We are all connected on this very basic emotional level by rhythm and harmony," he has said. And he's certainly proved the point, drawing on a wide range of styles, from doo-wop and folk to Latin and mbube. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including 12 Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honor, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • Andrew Bird

    Andrew Bird's mother thought she might be raising a classical musician. At four, he was already studying violin, and he went on to earn a degree in violin performance at Northwestern University. But he took a more improvisational route, and now this innovative multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and whistler has released more than a dozen albums and performed at festivals and major venues worldwide. Recent recordings include 2015's Echolocations: Canyon.
  • Maria Bamford

    In 2013, Rolling Stone included Maria Bamford on their list of 50 Funniest People -- and she took the 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic. Heady stuff for a comic who started her performing arts career in Duluth, Minnesota, at the age of 11, starring in the Chester Park Elementary production of How the West Was REALLY Won! She is the creator and star of the Web series The Maria Bamford Show and Maria Bamford: the special special special. Her new Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, premieres in April.
  • 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.
  • Sarah Jarosz

    Sarah Jarosz is a gifted multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar, banjo), an expressive and distinctive vocalist, and an accomplished songwriter. The New England Conservatory of Music grad has carved out a solid niche where contemporary folk, Americana, and roots music intersect. She’s been nominated for multiple Grammys, including two for her album Build Me Up From Bones. Her 2016 recording is titled Undercurrent (Sugar Hill).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gabe Witcher

    Violinist Gabe Witcher was barely school age when Bill Monroe invited him on stage to play a duet at a festival workshop. Gabe has been wowing crowds ever since, whether with the Witcher Brothers, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, or Punch Brothers. In addition, Gabe is a sought-after producer, arranger, and session player.
  • 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."