Shows
This week: we head West to escape the depths of winter in the Midwest with a live broadcast from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California and special guests Ryan Adams, Kacey Musgraves, composer Justin Hurwitz, and comedian Kevin Nealon. Plus: a new Song of the Week from Chris Thile and the band (pianist Rich Dworsky, singer Aoife O'Donovan, Mike Elizondo on bass, guitarist Julian Lage, drummer Ted Poor, and Gabe Witcher on fiddle); our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; and another crop of musician birthdays. Join us on the public radio end of the dial this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.
Download this week's Song of the Week, "Stanley Ann Dunham"
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  • Ryan Adams

    Ryan Adams has been called one of the finest -- and most prolific -- songwriters of his generation. He's also a singer, producer, painter, and poet (his two collections of verse: Infinity Blues and Hello Sunshine). Since Heartbreaker, his debut solo recording in 2000, he has released another 14 albums. His 16th, Prisoner (Pax-Am/Blue Note), is due out next month -- his first full-length collection of new music since 2014's Ryan Adams.
  • Kacey Musgraves

    Before Kacey Musgraves turned 10, she'd written her first song -- "Notice Me" -- and was growing a hometown fan base around tiny Golden, Texas. Well, the world has noticed her, all right. Same Trailer Different Park, her 2013 major-label debut, won her a Grammy for Best Country Album and Best Country Song ("Merry Go 'Round"). Other honors include last year's CMA International Artist Achievement Award. A Very Kacey Christmas (Mercury Nashville) is her new holiday album. Band: Kyle Ryan, Nathaniel Smith.
  • Justin Hurwitz

    Justin Hurwitz started piano and first grade at about the same. After spending much of his growing-up years in Wisconsin, he went on to study music composition and orchestration at Harvard University. In the eight years since graduation, he composed the songs and score for Damien Chazelle's 2010 feature debut, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench; composed the original score for Whiplash, earning a Grammy nomination; and, most recently, composed the music for Chazelle's film musical La La Land, winning two Golden Globes for song and score.
  • Kevin Nealon

    With his unique sense of humor, profound dry wit, and likeable demeanor, Kevin Nealon has become a top television, theatrical, and stand-up comedian. His credits include a nine-year stint on Saturday Night Live, roles on Showtime's award-winning series Weeds and the CBS sitcom Man With A Plan, and dozens of movies -- recently alongside Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in Blended. Among his stand-up specials: "Now Hear Me Out" and "Whelmed ... But Not Overly," both out on DVD.
  • 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.
  • Mike Elizondo

    Musician, songwriter, and Grammy-nominated producer Mike Elizondo is best known for his 11-year collaboration with Dr. Dre, as well as for co-writing Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady," Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova," and 50 Cent's "In Da Club." Over the course of his career, he has contributed to albums for artists across an incredible range of genres, including Jay Z, Fiona Apple, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Ry Cooder, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, and myriad others. He is currently Senior Vice President of A&R for Warner Bros. Records.
  • Julian Lage

    The New York Times has called guitarist Julian Lage "one of jazz's breezier virtuosos, possessed of an unflappable technical facility and a seemingly boundless curiosity." A former child prodigy, he was only five when began playing guitar; at eight, he was the subject of a 1997 documentary appropriately called Jules at Eight; by the time he was 13, he had appeared on stage at the Grammys. Now in his late 20s, he boasts a resume that an artist twice his age would be proud to claim. He has released three albums as a leader, most recently 2016's Arclight (Mack Avenue Records).
  • Aoife O'Donovan

    With her ethereal voice and substantive songwriting, Aoife O'Donovan captivates fans and critics alike. She was lead singer of the string band Crooked Still, and was a featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Her own recordings include 2016's In the Magic Hour, follow-up to her critically acclaimed solo debut, Fossils. Her most recent release, Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge, is a collection of original songs and covers, recorded live at The Sinclair.
  • 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.
  • Gabe Witcher

    Violinist Gabe Witcher was barely school age when Bill Monroe invited him on stage to play a duet at a festival workshop. Gabe has been wowing crowds ever since, whether with the Witcher Brothers, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, or Punch Brothers. In addition, Gabe is a sought-after producer, composer, arranger, and session player.
  • 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."