This week: a look back to October 2013 and our visit to the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee. The Milk Carton Kids sing "Memphis" and "Memoirs of an Owned Dog," Hilary Thavis joins us for Memphis Minnie's "Kissing in the Dark," and theater organist Tony Thomas accompanies Garrison and the audience on Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love." Plus: a few notes from a visit to Graceland, a word from the Catchup Advisory Board from our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, and Kenni Holmen sits in with Richard Dworsky and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band. In Lake Wobegon, Eloise Krebsbach runs for mayor.
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Notes from Hilary Thavis about this week's rebroadcast:
For me, one of the greatest things about being on A Prairie Home Companion was the opportunity to get to know American artists. As an outsider from Italy, I was often hearing and singing the songs for the first time, although no one suspected anything because apparently I have a Minnesotan accent. Anyway, it was secretly exciting —everything was new to me.

Memphis was a great show. I got to sing Elvis on the Orpheum stage, right after visiting Graceland. Lord knows I did not want to take that 9pm tour but everyone else was going. I was so glad I did, because Elvis had quite the decorative flair. His home was fascinating. Looking around at the white couches and stained glass, the fake jungle and tapestried pool room, I felt that he and I would have gotten along. Stepping out into the lawn afterwards was a sobering experience.

The weekend also introduced me to Memphis Minnie, and the story about how she ran away as a kid and joined the circus, then was "discovered" while singing and playing guitar on a Beale Street corner. I found a funny song of hers, "Kissing In The Dark", with a solid rocking guitar part that was so unexpected. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to sing her songs on the show. She was the epitome of cool.

It's funny though how it all started. I get a call from Garrison: "Do you want to do Memphis? Classics — something by Elvis, and 'Chauffeur Blues' of course?" "Absolutely, yes," I say, "That sounds great." I hang up. Heart beating, I switch on my laptop. Type in "Me and My Chauffeur Blues". Put my headphones on.


I love those blues.
  • The Milk Carton Kids

    Two voices, two guitars -- sometimes that's all it takes. Case in point: The Milk Carton Kids. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriters Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan spent a decade pursuing separate careers before they formed a duo two years ago, taking the name from the title of one of their songs, "Milk Carton Kid." With their close harmonies, deft guitar work, and deadpan humor, they quickly built a wide and devoted following. Earlier this year, they released their third album, The Ash & Clay (Anti Records).
  • Hilary Thavis

    Funny how things come together. Born in Rome, Italy, to parents from Minnesota, Hilary Thavis grew up loving music -- especially folk music -- from Woody Guthrie to Italian folk singers like Fabrizio De Andre and Francesco De Gregori. But it was the blues that ultimately captured her attention. Trouble & Truth is the 2011 recording from her band Gaia Groove. Now making her home in the Twin Cities, Hilary is working on a solo album of original songs.
  • Tony Thomas

    Tony Thomas was only eight when theater organ music first caught his attention. And over the next few years, his parents took him to visit theaters and residences where Mighty Wurlitzers and other instruments could be found. By 14, he was giving concerts. These days, Tony is an award-winning pianist and organist. His CD of jazz-influenced arrangements on theater organ is titled Something Different ... Something Wonderful.
  • Garrison Keillor

    Garrison Keillor was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and on July 6, 1974, he hosted the first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul. He is the host of The Writer's Almanac and the editor of the Good Poems series of anthologies from Viking.
  • The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band

    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.
    Chet Atkins called Pat Donohue (guitar) one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world today. And he writes songs too -- recorded by Suzy Bogguss, Kenny Rogers, and others. Blue Yonder and Vicksburg Blues (a collaboration with Butch Thompson) are the most recent of Pat's albums.
    Gary Raynor (bass) has performed with the Count Basie band, Sammy Davis Jr. -- with whom he toured for several years -- and the Minnesota Klezmer Band. He teaches jazz bass at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.
    Peter Johnson (percussion) has played klezmer music with Doc Severinsen and jazz with Dave Brubeck. He was a drummer for The Manhattan Transfer and for Gene Pitney. He has toured the world, but he always comes back to home base: Saint Paul.
  • Beth Gilleland

    Beth Gilleland's acting roles have taken her from radio and TV airwaves to many Twin Cities stages -- Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop, Illusion Theater, the Guthrie, and others. Her playwriting credits include Sisters of Swing (with Bob Beverage), and she has toured extensively with her one-woman show, Whistling Girls and Crowing Hens.
  • 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."