This week: the second of our two bonus May live broadcasts from our home base in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the Fitzgerald Theater. Joining us are musical guests Jim James and Aimee Mann, and comedian Hari Kondabolu. Our host, Chris Thile, has a brand-new Song of the Week; our friend Sara Watkins joins us as Chris's duet partner for the first time this season, and she'll also add a little fiddle to the band, along with Jerry Douglas on Dobro, music director and pianist Rich Dworsky, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Alan Hampton on bass, and drummer Ted Poor; the Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman, will amaze and astound on scripts and sounds effects; and we'll celebrate a few musician birthdays. Tune in on your local public radio station or watch live (Saturday, 5pm-7pm Central Time) at!
  • Jim James

    Well known as frontman for the acclaimed alternative-rock band My Morning Jacket, Jim James has also recorded two solo albums: 2013's Regions of Light and Sound of God and Eternally Even, released last year on ATO Records. Of this latest recording, Jim says: "These songs are about wanting to be a part of the discussion, part of saying, 'Can't we get to a peaceful place; why is that so hard for us?' There are these very basic things that so many people want, but they get sidetracked by greed."
  • Aimee Mann

    Early on, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann gained fame in the 1980s band 'Til Tuesday, and she's gone on to solo success. Said Paste Magazine: "Like the Velvet Underground's Nico, she's our mirror. Through her songs, she reflects life as it so often is -- a contorted, gasping mess -- but somehow she still finds beauty in its imperfection." She earned Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song for "Save Me," part of an acclaimed song score for Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 film, Magnolia. 2017's Mental Illness (SuperEgo Records) is her first album in five years.
  • Hari Kondabolu

    Hari Kondabolu earned a B.A. in comparative politics from Bowdoin College and master's degree in human rights from the London School of Economics -- and then became (as the New York Times said) "one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today." You may have seen him on Letterman's show, or Conan's, or his own Comedy Central special. The second stand-up album from this Brooklyn-based funnyman is Hari Kondabolu's New Material Night Volume 1.
  • 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).
  • Jerry Douglas

    The New York Times called Jerry Douglas "Dobro's matchless contemporary master," and clearly the 14-time Grammy winner and three-time Country Music Association Musician of the Year is internationally recognized as the world's best on the instrument. This true pioneer in American music has recorded both as a solo artist and as a member of groundbreaking bands, including J.D. Crowe & the New South, the Country Gentlemen, Alison Krauss & Union Station -- and The Earls of Leicester, the group he formed in 2013.
  • 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 groundbreaking group that guitarist Chris would join after earning a degree in music performance from Oberlin Conservatory. He went on to start award-winning bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters, and later to critical acclaim with Punch Brothers. He also plays in a duo with guitarist Julian Lage.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Sara Watkins

    Singer-songwriter and fiddle player Sara Watkins -- along with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile -- was a founding member of the Grammy-winning progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek. In 2015, Sara and Sean released their "family-band-of-sorts project," Watkins Family Hour, and then embarked on a tour that included stops at Conan, NPR's Tiny Desk Concert, and the Newport Folk Festival. Sara's latest recording: Young in All the Wrong Ways (New West Records).
  • 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."