Saturday, May 10, 2008
Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas formed the BoDeans back in 1983 in their hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Soon there was a buzz among fans who saw the group at Milwaukee's Summerfest. And by 1986, with their debut album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, the BoDeans were propelled into the national spotlight and named "Best New Band" by Rolling Stone magazine. Many more jumped on the bandwagon when the group's song "Closer to Free" was selected as the theme for Fox TV's Party of Five. Neumann and Llanas spent the last couple of years producing their latest recording. Titled Still, it is just out on He and He Records. The rest of the band: Noah Levy (drums), Eric Holden (bass) and Bukka Allen (accordion and keyboard).
You can't miss him: Leon Redbone, in the dark glasses, the white suit, the hat — the one with the great gravelly voice and one-of-a-kind interpretations of classic American song. Since he first gained public attention playing in Toronto folk clubs in the 1970s, he has recorded a dozen-plus albums, his vocals have been heard in numerous TV and radio advertising campaigns, and he was the Snowman in the 2003 movie Elf. But what's his real story? He'd just as soon keep details of his personal life to himself, but this much is certain: Decade after decade, fans keep coming back for more. His recordings include Live (October 26, 1992: The Olympia Theater, Paris France) and Any Time — both on the Rounder label. Pianist Paul Asaro joins Leon Redbone for tonight's performance.
The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band
The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band is led by A Prairie Home Companion music director Richard Dworsky (keyboard) and features Pat Donohue (guitar), Gary Raynor (bass), Andy Stein (violin, saxophone) and Peter Johnson (percussion).
Caroline Hontz, Tour Manager
What is it they say about herding cats? Getting A Prairie Home Companion's cast and crew to a tour venue and back home again is no mean feat, but Tour Manager Caroline Hontz is up to the task. She's been getting our show on the road since 2001. Born and raised in Ohio, she attended Miami University, then taught school for several years in Cincinnati and Boston. She and her husband wound up in Chatham, New Jersey, where they raised three sons. The family spent three years in Hong Kong — loved every minute of the experience — then returned to New Jersey, where Caroline now serves as Executive Director of Executive Meetings & Incentives, Inc. The company coordinates corporate business meetings, incentive travel programs, and special events worldwide.
The Milwaukee Theatre
When it opened in 1909, the Milwaukee Auditorium — called the Milwaukee Theatre, following a $42 million restoration a few years ago — was a state-of-the-art structure for its time. The original cantilevered upper balcony was so novel that its strength was tested by loading a completed section of the deck with 18,000 pounds of brick, 3,000 pounds of bagged cement and 23 brave men. It held up, and since then artists from Enrico Caruso and John Philip Sousa to Marilyn Manson and Prince have taken the stage. It has been the site of speeches by U.S. presidents, including Taft, Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, who managed to deliver an hours-long address just minutes after being shot in the chest in an assassination attempt. At the close of World War I, returning soldiers were billeted in the auditorium. And in the 1930s, the space was even used for bicycle races. Whether a site for entertainment, political rallies, athletic meets or other events, the Milwaukee Theatre remains a favorite center of cultural expression and civic activity.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).