We added a touch of class to our weekend by putting on a pair on clean jeans, heading uptown, and joining the well-dressed masses at Town Hall. Ryan Adams played a string of shows at Town Hall last week, but this was something different - a live broadcast of the radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion
We spent some time backstage before the show, where Irish folk singer Karan Casey
was cooing at her baby daughter and members of the jazz ensemble Gravity were enjoying vast spreads of complimentary food. The turkey sandwiches looked good, but we snapped out of our hungry daydream when we were introduced to Howard Johnson
, the tuba-playing legend who leads Gravity. Johnson’s resume also includes such big names as The Band (Johnson arranged the horn parts and performed on The Last Waltz
) and Saturday Night Live
(he used to be the show’s bandleader). We briefly talked to the band and wished them luck.
“Thank you,” said Johnson.
“I like your hair,” added bassist Melissa Slocum.
As for the show itself, we’re unafraid to say that A Prairie Home Companion absolutely rocks. Garrison Keillor is an old-school emcee with a solid singing voice, a wistful dramatic delivery, and a pair of bright-red sneakers that we really, really wanted to steal. His constant presence keeps the show rooted without stealing the spotlight from the guest musicians.
- Karan Casey’s performance of “Aililiu na Gamhna,” an achingly pretty song sung in Gaelic.
- Gravity’s bluesy “Workin' Hard for the Joneses,” featuring Howard Johnson’s daughter Nedra on lead vocals.
- Stuart Duncan’s fiddle riffs, which turned the show’s highly-capable house band (The Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band) into a pitch-perfect powerhouse of bluegrass and folk.
You stream the show here
. Kudos to Prairie Home
for keeping Real Audio alive and kicking.