This week: we're live from the San Diego Civic Theatre for the second broadcast of our two-week stand in sunny Southern California. Hometown heroes Nickel Creek are reuniting for the occasion and will contribute a new song to Chris Thile's Song of the Week series; Fantastic Negrito and company head down the California coast for a blast of blues from the Bay Area; and comic Maria Bamford joins us from Duluth, Minnesota, by way of Hollywood. Plus: music and musician birthdays from our band -- singer Madison Cunningham, Richard Dworsky on keys, guitarist Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas on fiddle, bassist Alan Hampton, and Ted Poor on drums); Tom Papa checks in with observations from Out in America; and, so we can focus on stuffing ourselves with leftover turkey and yams during our brief November vacation, a pre-Thanksgiving script or two from our Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Serena Brook, Tim Russell, and Fred Newman. Tune in!
Download the Song of the Week, "No Place Like Home"
Download the chart for "No Place Like Home"
  • Nickel Creek

    Almost three decades ago, three Southern California youngsters started a band. Nickel Creek released a half-dozen albums and garnered a boatload of honors, including a Grammy and a couple of IBMA Awards. In 2007, the trio took an "indefinite hiatus," and Chris Thile (mandolin), Sara Watkins (fiddle), and Sean Watkins (guitar) each went on to acclaimed careers in music. Their 2014 reunion resulted in A Dotted Line, the group's most recent album.
  • Fantastic Negrito

    Taking inspiration from bluesmen like Skip James and Leadbelly, Fantastic Negrito plays what he describes as "blues with a punk attitude." After surviving a difficult childhood and a near-fatal car crash, his life has taken a turn: In 2015, he topped some 7,000 entries to win National Public Radio's Tiny Desk Concert Contest. And this year, his album The Last Days of Oakland earned a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Band: Uriah Duffy (bass), Tomas "The Chilean" Salcedo (guitar), Charlie Brown (keyboards), and James "StickNasty" Small (drums).
  • Maria Bamford

    In 2013, Rolling Stone included Maria Bamford on their list of 50 Funniest People -- and she took the 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic. Heady stuff for a comic who started her performing arts career in Duluth, Minnesota, at the age of 11, starring in the Chester Park Elementary production of How the West Was REALLY Won! She is the creator and star of the Web series The Maria Bamford Show and Maria Bamford: the special special special. Her Netflix comedy series is called Lady Dynamite; her latest special is Old Baby.
  • Chris Thile

    Chris Thile made his first appearance on A Prairie Home Companion 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 and MacArthur Fellow is now in his second season hosting APHC, in addition to teaming up with numerous musicians in myriad styles and leading acoustic quintet Punch Brothers. Among his albums is 2017's Bach Trios (Nonesuch), with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer.
  • Madison Cunningham

    From a musical family, Madison Cunningham first picked up a guitar when she was only seven. By the age of 12, the California native was singing in church, along with her four younger sisters. Now, less than a decade later, she has established herself as a solo singer-songwriter with a keen understanding of her craft. Her EP, Love, Lose, Remember, came out earlier this year.
  • 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 a bluegrass band, the Infamous Stringdusters, and later to critical acclaim with Punch Brothers. His 2017 duo album with guitarist Julian Lage is called Mount Royal (Free Dirt Records).
  • 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 Hawktail (with bassist Paul Kowert, guitarist Jordan Tice, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie). Among her recordings is 2014's You Got This (Haas Kowert Tice).
  • Alan Hampton

    Multi-instrumentalist Alan Hampton began his musical career in Houston, Texas. He continued at New York City's New School and then at the Thelonious Monk Institute in L.A. He has performed internationally with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, and more. In addition to laying down tracks for numerous musicians, Alan's own recordings include Origami for the Fire (Ash Productions).
  • 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, Seattle. For the past few years, Ted has been a member of Andrew Bird's band and appears on Bird's 2016 release, Are You Serious.
  • Serena Brook

    Actress Serena Brook has appeared off-Broadway, on the national tour circuit, and on regional theater stages. In the Twin Cities, her work includes productions at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, 7th House Theater, the Guthrie Theater's Dowling Studio, and the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. The Eagan, Minnesota, native is also a voice-over artist who can be heard on national and regional radio commercials.
  • Tim Russell

    Mild-mannered Tim Russell one minute -- Obama, Trump, or myriad others the next. It's almost impossible to stump this "man of a thousand voices." A longtime radio personality (veteran of WDBQ in Dubuque, WCCO and KJJO in the Twin Cities, in addition to his decades-long Prairie Home stint), 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."