Shows
This week: we're convening in Chicago, Illinois for a live broadcast from the Symphony Center Chicago with special guests sure to put the acoustically stunning hall to good use, Andrew Bird, Laura Marling, and comedian Beth Stelling. Plus: button accordion and concertina player John Williams joins us to showcase Chicago's Irish musical roots; our host Chris Thile is gearing up for another Song of the Week with the band (music director Rich Dworsky on keys, singer and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas on fiddle, bassist Paul Kowert, and Ted Poor on drums); and we'll have scripts and scenes straight from the shores of Lake Michigan with our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman. Flip the dial to your local public radio station and join us for two hours of music and comedy on Saturday evening.
Download the Song of the Week, "We, Joe Maddon"
  • Andrew Bird

    Andrew Bird's mother thought she might be raising a classical musician. At four, he was already studying violin, and he went on to earn a degree in violin performance at Northwestern University. But he took a more improvisational route, and now this innovative multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and whistler has released more than a dozen albums and performed at festivals and major venues worldwide. Recent recordings include 2016's Are You Serious.
  • Laura Marling

    When singer-songwriter Laura Marling was growing up in rural England, her father ran a recording studio. He also taught six-year-old Laura how to play the guitar. As a teen, she moved to London, performing in various bands and garnering acclaim before launching a solo career and releasing her debut studio album, 2008's Alas, I Cannot Swim. Winner of Brit and NME Awards -- and nominee for numerous other honors -- she has now recorded her sixth album: Semper Femina (More Alarming Records) is due out in March.
  • Beth Stelling

    Time Out magazine listed Beth Stelling as one of LA's Comedians to Watch in 2016. And fans across the country did just that. The Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian, writer, and actress tours extensively, performing at festivals, colleges, and clubs. Her TV appearances include Conan, Showtime's SXSW Special, Last Call with Carson Daly, and The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. Among her writing projects: HBO's Crashing and Comedy Central's Another Period. Her second album is called Simply the Beth (Comedy Dynamics).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Brittany Haas

    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

    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 and three for her latest recording, Undercurrent (Sugar Hill).
  • Paul Kowert

    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.
  • Ted Poor

    "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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • John Williams

    John Williams is internationally regarded as one of the foremost players of Irish music today -- with five All-Ireland titles to his credit. On button accordion, bodhran, flute, piano, and concertina (the instrument also played by his father and grandfather in Doolin, County Clare, dating back to the late 1800s), John has entertained audiences in pubs and concert halls from his Chicago hometown across North America and Europe. He appears on dozens of recordings, including Raven (Alliance), his collaboration with guitarist Dean Magraw.
  • Katie Grennan

    Katie Grennan is a multitalented Irish dancer, fiddle player, and violinist. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, by the time she turned 12, she had reached the highest level of Irish dancing by competing in the annual world championships in Ireland. As a solo artist, she has toured the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and she has made guest appearances with the Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and traditional musicians such as Liz Carroll and John Williams. Hundreds of children nationwide have learned music and dance through her individual classes and workshops.