This week: we'll return to March 2008 and a broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater on Exchange Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Our friends The Wailin' Jennys sing "Beautiful Dawn" and "Driving"; The Boys of the Lough join us from Ireland and Scotland for "The Keane Reels" and "Beauty Deas An Oileain"; and Minnesota's first Poet Laureate, Robert Bly, reads a few selections from his catalog. Plus: Pat Donohue and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band play "Hawaiian Blues" and "Breakin' the Ice," Guy Noir seeks out a cure for cabin fever, and a message from the Partnership of English Majors. In Lake Wobegon, Alan Jansky returns for a visit after living in Santa Barbara for years.
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  • The Wailin' Jennys

    When The Wailin' Jennys first got together in 2002, it was supposed to be a one-time gig. But the collaboration proved such a success that within a few weeks the trio was on tour and people were calling them "a bona fide Canadian sensation." They have continued to wow audiences across North America and beyond. As one music critic wrote, "This is about as good as contemporary folk gets." The group's critically acclaimed CD 40 Days won a 2005 Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. Their latest recording, Firecracker, released in 2006 on the Red House label, has their ever-widening fan base coming back for more. The Jennys are soprano Ruth Moody, mezzo Nicky Mehta and alto Heather Masse. Jeremy Penner joins them on fiddle and mandolin.
  • The Boys of the Lough

    The Irish Times described the Boys of the Lough's music as "full of guts and technical brilliance." Indeed, they have helped to keep the centuries-old music of Ireland and Scotland close to its roots since they formed in 1967. Members of the band are Dave Richardson (mandolin, cittern, English concertina, button accordion), from Northumberland; Cathal McConnell (flute, whistles), from County Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland; Kevin Henderson (fiddle), from the Shetland Islands; Brendan Begley (button accordion, melodeon), from the Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry; and Malcolm Stitt (guitar), from Fort William, in the Scottish Highlands. In 2005, they released their 20th album -- aptly titled Twenty. Their latest CD is Midwinter Live (Lough Records).
  • Robert Bly

    Robert Bly was just named Minnesota's poet laureate -- the first to be so honored. He was born on a farm in Madison, Minnesota, in 1926, and has lived in the area for much of his life. After his graduation from Harvard, he devoted his life to poetry. In 1958, he launched a poetry magazine called The Fifties. (It was renamed as each new decade dawned.) He is the author of numerous poetry collections -- including his most recent, Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins) -- in addition to anthologies, translations and works of nonfiction. In 1967, Bly won the National Book Award for The Light Around the Body.
  • 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.
    Originally from Cloquet, Minnesota, pedal steel player Joe Savage made his way to Minneapolis in the 1980s. These days, he is a fixture on the Twin Cities music scene, performing with a number of artists in addition to keeping up his work as a studio musician.
  • 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.
  • Tom Keith

    Is that water dripping? Footsteps coming this way? Car tires spinning on an icy driveway? Nope - it's sound effects wizard Tom Keith. With vocal gymnastics and a variety of props, Tom worked his magic on A Prairie Home Companion from the mid-1970s until his passing in 2011.