This week on A Prairie Home Companion, we're live from The Fitzgerald Theater in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota with a show celebrating all things banjo. With special guests, five-string masters Noam Pikelny, Joe Newberry, and Bill Evans, singer Suzy Bogguss, and country music historian Bill C. Malone. Plus, the Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman, guitarist Dean Magraw joins The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, and the latest News from Lake Wobegon.
  • Suzy Bogguss

    During her childhood in Aledo, Illinois, Suzy Bogguss loved music. She joined the church choir, played the piano and drums, and bought her first 12-string with the money she earned from babysitting. Since moving to Nashville in the mid-1980s, she has won acclaim in both country and contemporary music circles. Her latest CD, Lucky, is a collection of songs written by the great Merle Haggard. It was released earlier this year on the Loyal Dutchess label.
  • Joe Newberry

    Missouri native and North Carolina transplant Joe Newberry has made music most of his life. He grew up in a family full of singers and dancers, took up the guitar and banjo as a teenager, and learned fiddle tunes from great Missouri fiddlers. He plays with Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini as the Jumpsteady Boys, in a duo with mandolinist Mike Compton, and in a quartet with old-time music legends Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, and Jim Watson. Joe's solo recording, Two Hands, is on the 5-String Productions label.
  • Dean Magraw

    Composer, arranger, producer, guitarist Dean Magraw studied at the University of Minnesota and the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His first recording, Broken Silence, came out in 1994 and won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year. Dean has since turned out a bunch of dazzling albums, including his latest, How the Light Gets In (Red House), a collaboration with renowned tabla player Marcus Wise.
  • Bill C Malone

    Bill C. Malone grew up in rural East Texas during the Great Depression, with music as his "constant companion." He went on to the University of Texas, where his doctoral dissertation became 1968's Country Music, U.S.A., the first scholarly history of the topic. His books - including Southern Music/American Music; Southern Culture and the Roots of Country Music; and Don't Get Above Your Raisin': Country Music and the Southern Working Class - are must-reads for any fan of traditional music. As author Larry McMurtry once quipped, "If anyone knows more about the subject than [Malone] does, God help them." Bill C. Malone is Professor Emeritus of History at Tulane University. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where his radio show, Back to the Country, is heard weekly on WORT-FM.
  • Noam Pikelny

    Actor/musician Steve Martin has called banjo ace Noam Pikelny"a player of unlimited range and astonishing precision." And indeed he is - be it clawhammer, three-finger, or more progressive styles. With groups like Leftover Salmon, the John Cowan Band, and Punch Brothers, Noam has built a large following among music lovers everywhere. His second solo CD is 2011's Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail (Compass Records).
  • Bill Evans

    Bill Evans is a performer, teacher, writer, ethnomusicologist, and composer who brings deep knowledge, intense virtuosity, and contagious passion to all things banjo. Author of the how-to guideBanjo For Dummies, he also co-authored Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition (Mel Bay Publications). For Banjo Newsletter magazine, he writes a monthly instructional column: "All Strings Considered." Bill's recordings include Let's Do Something and In Good Company, both on the Native and Fine label.