This week: we're taking a Saturday off to gear up for our first tour show of the season, November 12 in Philadelphia, and taking a look back to a show Chris Thile guest-hosted back in January at Saint Paul's Fitzgerald Theater. Ben Folds performs "Yes Man" and "Army" (with Chris helping out on mandolin); Brandi Carlile sings "Things I Regret" and "The Eye"; and Ed Helms shares a story about a pesky cricket and joins our Royal Academy of Radio Actors for a few scripts. Plus: Chris premieres "The Mississippi is Frozen," teams up with his fellow Punch Brothers for "Sleek White Baby" and "Magnet," and sings "Footprints in the Snow" with Sarah Jarosz. It's all brought to you by our trustworthy sponsors Powdermilk Biscuits and the Catchup Advisory board, and you can find it on your local public radio station. Tune in.
  • Ben Folds

    Singer-songwriter-producer Ben Folds first found mainstream success as the leader of the critically acclaimed Ben Folds Five. The versatile pianist has gone on to have a highly successful solo career -- live and studio albums, music for film and TV, and numerous collaborations with artists from Sara Bareilles to William Shatner. For his latest recording, So There (New West Records), he teamed up with the inventive chamber ensemble yMusic.
  • Brandi Carlile

    In her teens, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile sang backup for an Elvis impersonator, but when she got her first guitar -- a broken and abandoned Harmony Sovereign -- she was soon playing coffeehouses, parties, and restaurants in the Seattle area. Since she released her first album more than a decade ago, her fan base has mushroomed. Her latest recording is The Firewatcher’s Daughter (ATO Records). Brandi is joined by Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth.
  • Ed Helms

    Atlanta-born, L.A.-based Ed Helms is an actor, comedian, writer, producer, musician, and then some. Not only is he known for his hilarious work on The Daily Show, his role as Andy Bernard on The Office, films like the Hangover trilogy, Vacation, and Love the Coopers, he is also one-third of The Lonesome Trio, a bluegrass band that had its beginnings decades ago when Ed was a student at Oberlin College. The trio’s self-titled debut album was released last summer on the Sugar Hill label.
  • 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).
  • Punch Brothers

    It's hard to put a label on Punch Brothers. These five virtuosic musicians have been pushing boundaries as performers, recording artists, composers, interpreters, technicians, and stylists, since they first came together in 2006. That's when they made the album How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, which earned them a Grammy nomination. Suffice it to say, Chris Eldridge (guitar), Paul Kowert (bass), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Thile (mandolin), and Gabe Witcher (fiddle) are stirring things up with their extraordinary sound. Their new album is The Phosphorescent Blues (Nonesuch).
  • 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.
  • 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."