Shows
This week: we're live from the famed Fitzgerald Theater, in sunny Saint Paul, Minnesota for our season finale with your host Chris Thile and guests The Avett Brothers, Jesca Hoop, and comedian Jen Kirkman. Plus: one more Song of the Week from Chris and the band (singers Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan, pianist and music director Richard Dworsky, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, bassist Alan Hampton, guitarist Julian Lage, and Ted Poor on drums); our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman; and another chance to send in your suggestions for the Powdermilk Biscuit Instant Song Request. It's two hours of public radio you won't want to miss -- tune in on your local station or watch live (Saturday, 5pm-7pm CST) at prairiehome.org!
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  • The Avett Brothers

    The Avett Brothers, Scott (vocals, banjo) and Seth (vocals, guitar), grew up on a hobby farm near Concord, North Carolina. As teens, they played in hard-rock bands, before discovering folk and bluegrass. They released their first full-length album, Country Was, in 2002. Their ninth, the more experimental True Sadness, came out last year and garnered two Grammy nominations. The brothers were recently inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. The band includes Bob Crawford (bass), Mike Marsh (drums), Joe Kwon (cello), Paul Defiglia (Hammond B-3, keyboards), and Tania Elizabeth (fiddle).
  • Jesca Hoop

    California native and Manchester, England, transplant Jesca Hoop started writing songs in her teens. Soon she honed her craft and developed a reputation as a unique songwriter and beguiling live performer. Tom Waits once described her music as being like a four-sided coin. "She is an old soul," he said, "like a black pearl, a good witch or red moon. Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night." In 2016, Jesca released a duets record with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine. Her fourth solo album, Memories Are Now (Sub Pop Records), came out in January 2017.
  • Jen Kirkman

    Jen Kirkman is a stand-up comedian and author of two comedic essay collections: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself and I Know What I'm Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself. Last month, Just Keep Livin'? -- her most recent comedy special -- began streaming worldwide on Netflix. Based in Los Angeles, Jen tours across the globe and has made appearances on Conan, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and more. She was a longtime writer and round-table guest on Chelsea Lately and is well known for being a five-time narrator of Comedy Central's Drunk History.
  • 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.
  • Alan Hampton

    Multi-instrumentalist Alan Hampton began his musical career in Houston, Texas, where he attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He continued at the New School in New York City, and finally the Thelonious Monk Institute in LA, where he studied bass with Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, and John Clayton, and performed internationally with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Wayne Shorter. In addition to laying down tracks for numerous musicians, Alan's own recordings include Origami for the Fire (Ash Productions).
  • 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; her latest recording, Undercurrent (Sugar Hill), won for Best Folk Album, and her single "House of Mercy" took the award for Best American Roots Performance.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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."