Regular Performers and Cast
Chris Thile, Host
This fall, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile takes over as our new host. Each week, Chris will feature incredible live performances from an array of special musical guests — some known by all, and some who soon will be — along with a bit of comedy and spoken word, plus Chris will compose and perform a unique new song each week.
Garrison Keillor, Creator and Host Emeritus
Our creator and Executive producer was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota, and began his radio career as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1966. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and hosted A Prairie Home Companion from July 6, 1974 through July 1, 2016.
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.
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.
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).
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 latest recording is titled *Undercurrent* (Sugar Hill).
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.
Growing up in a musical family, Aoife O’Donovan took an interest in the American folk tradition. And after graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music, she formed the progressive bluegrass band Crooked Still and the trio Sometymes Why. She recently collaborated with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz to create the “I’m With Her” tour, which took the trio to the U.K., Europe, and across the U.S. Aoife’s latest recording, In the Magic Hour, was released earlier this year on Yep Roc Records.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”