Shows
This week: Our first road trip of the season is a timely visit to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, P-A. It's a live broadcast from The Academy of Music with Jason Isbell, a fine songwriter with a jeweler's eye for detail; Angélique Kidjo's astonishing vocals bring energy and life to village traditions and African pride; the Dover Quartet, a talented, highly-acclaimed string quartet -- all graduates of the Curtis Academy of Music in Philadelphia -- will perform selections by fellow Curtis alum Samuel Barber; and America's Favorite Poet, Billy Collins, adds his wisdom and wit and perhaps a few poems from his collection The Rain in Portugal. Plus: a new Song of the Week by host Chris Thile and a hand-picked band (singer Lydia Rogers of The Secret Sisters, pianist Richard Dworsky, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Greg Garrison on bass, and drummer Roy Wooten). But wait, there's more! The Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman, lend their voices, characters, and sound effects to a magnificent fall evening along the Delaware River. Join us for a restorative two-hour break right here on the radio, Saturday at 5pm Central Time.
Download the Song of the Week, "I Made This for You"
Download the chart for "I Made This for You"
  • Jason Isbell

    Jason Isbell was a seven-year-old when his grandfather started him on mandolin -- and on the road to a life in music. From 2001 to 2007, the Alabama-born singer-songwriter-guitarist was in the alternative country-rock band Drive-By Truckers. Then he released his first solo recording, Sirens of the Ditch. His most recent album is Something More Than Free (Southeastern Records). It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's rock, country, and folk charts, and won the 2016 Grammy for Best Americana Album. Jason also took home a Grammy for Best American Roots Song for "24 Frames."
  • Angelique Kidjo

    Decades ago, Angelique Kidjo fled to Paris from her native Benin, after being pressured to perform for that country's repressive regime. Now this world-renowned singer-songwriter is a UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador and was honored as an Amnesty International 2016 Ambassador of Conscience. Her Batonga Foundation seeks to improve access to education for African girls. Its motto: "Transforming Africa one girl at a time." Earlier this year, she won her third Grammy, for Sings (429 Records), a collaboration with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Dominic James (guitar), Magatte Sow (percussion), Ben Zwerin (bass), Yayo Serka (drums).
  • The Dover Quartet

    The Dover Quartet was formed in 2008 at the Curtis Institute of Music, and then continued their studies as Graduate Quartet-in-Residence at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music from 2011 to 2013. They catapulted to international prominence following a sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, becoming one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. They recently released their debut recording, Tribute: Dover Quartet Plays Mozart (Cedille). The Dover Quartet is: Joel Link (violin), Bryan Lee (violin), Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt (viola), and Camden Shaw (cello).
  • Billy Collins

    Billy Collins was twice appointed United States poet laureate. In 2004, he was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Award for humor in poetry. This year, he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Among his other honors are the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, and the Levinson Prize. The poems in Sailing Alone Around the Room, The Trouble with Poetry, and his other best-selling collections have sparked a firestorm of interest in the art. The Rain in Portugal (Random House) is his latest book of poetry.
  • 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.
  • Stuart Duncan

    Multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan took up fiddle at age seven. Since then, he has chalked up a career that includes a couple of Grammys, a slew of Academy of Country Music Awards, and being named the International Bluegrass Music Association's Fiddle Player of the Year nine times. He was a founding member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band and is perennially one of Nashville's most sought-after session musicians, performing on thousands of recordings.
  • 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.
  • Greg Garrison

    Bassist Greg Garrison has strong connections to the musical worlds of bluegrass, folk, jazz, and rock. He has worked with a wide range of musicians and groups, from Bill Frisell and Sam Bush to Leftover Salmon and Punch Brothers. His album as leader is titled Low Lonesome and features his own compositions as well as other tunes. Based in Denver, Greg teaches music at both Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Colorado.
  • Lydia Rogers

    Lydia Rogers, of The Secret Sisters, grew up surrounded by the sounds of the South about a 20-minute drive from historic Muscle Shoals, Alabama -- raised on a rich tapestry of music, from George Jones and Loretta Lynn, to The Ramones and Rufus Wainwright. Lydia and her sister, Laura, released their debut album, The Secret Sisters, in 2010, followed two years later by Put Your Needle Down (Republic) -- both produced by T Bone Burnett. For their latest studio recording, Lydia and Laura worked with longtime friend and mentor Brandi Carlile. Look for that new album in early 2017.
  • Roy "Futureman" Wooten

    Drummer Roy "Futureman" Wooten has always been fascinated with percussion. Decades ago, he formed the Wooten Brothers, with his four talented siblings. Roy is especially well known as a founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. This winner of multiple Grammys is also an inventor whose creations include "The Drumitar," which allows him to replicate the sounds of an entire contemporary drum kit with his fingers, and "The RoyEl," a futuristic piano that can express the whole orchestra in any mathematical tuning and musical temperament.
  • 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."