Press Releases & Events
10:39 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Special Guests Announced for A Prairie Home Companion Performance in Murray

Murray, KY – Media Release: Special Guests Announced for A Live Broadcast Performance of A Prairie Home Companion with a Tribute to the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe

Date: 08.29.11

Contact: Jenni Todd (jtodd14@murraystate.edu, 270-809-4748)

On Saturday, November 5, A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor comes to Murray State University's CFSB Center with a centennial tribute to Father of Bluegrass Music Bill Monroe.

Born in Rosine, Kentucky, in 1911, Monroe learned to play mandolin when he was kid. By the mid-1940s, he had developed the style of music that eventually took its name from that of his band, the Blue Grass Boys. Over the years, more than 160 stellar musicians passed through the ranks of the Blue Grass Boys, and Keillor has assembled some notable examples for this special show.

Bill Monroe once said, "I believe Bob Black is the best at playing the old-time fiddle numbers of any banjo player." Not a bad compliment. Bob first heard Monroe's music when he was a high schooler in Des Moines. Hooked on bluegrass, he learned to play on a rented Kay banjo. In 1974, with a decade of music under his belt, he joined the Blue Grass Boys and spent the next two years with the group.

When Kathy Chiavola earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in voice from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, everyone assumed that she was headed for a career in opera. Plans change. After moving to Nashville, she sang backup for a long list of luminaries before starting her own band. And while she turned down Bill Monroe's offer to join the Blue Grass Boys, she and Monroe remained friends for the rest of his life.

Stuart Duncan wasn't in Monroe's band, but he is certainly no stranger to bluegrass. As a kid, he was inspired by the music of Vassar Clements, Byron Berline, and others. And at age seven, he took up playing fiddle. Since then, he has chalked up a career that includes two Grammy Awards and being named the International Bluegrass Music Association's Fiddle Player of the Year eight times.

Ohio native Tom Ewing was the final lead singer and guitarist with the Blue Grass Boys from 1986 to 1996 replacing Wayne Lewis, the only guitarist who had a longer tenure with the group. He appeared on Monroe's last three studio albums, including the Grammy-winning Southern Flavor. Later, he worked with David Davis & the Warrior River Boys and played upright bass with Jim & Jesse. Tom edited The Bill Monroe Reader (University of Illinois Press, 2000).

Richard Greene started playing violin when was five. He focused on classical music that is, until he heard the fiddling of Mike Seeger and Scotty Stoneman. That's when his attention turned to old time and bluegrass. In 1966, he joined Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys one of Monroe's first "northern" band members. He stayed with Monroe for a year before starting the revolutionary folk-rock group Seatrain.

Growing up in Appleton, Wisconsin, bassist Mark Hembree was a choirboy and trombonist at St. Joseph Catholic Grade School. But by his teens, he had fallen under the spell of progressive bluegrass. In 1977, he joined the groundbreaking Monroe Doctrine. Later, he spent five years with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and then cofounded the Nashville Bluegrass Band. Now back in Wisconsin, Mark works as a magazine editor and continues to play music.

Born in North Carolina where he still makes his home 10-time Grammy winner Bobby Hicks learned to play the fiddle before he was nine years old. By the time he was 11, he had won the North Carolina State Fiddle Championship. He started playing in Bill Monroe's band in the early 1950s, first as a bass player and later switching to fiddle. With the exception of a few years off to serve in the Army, Bobby stayed with Monroe until 1959. He went on to work with Porter Wagoner, the Judy Lynn Show, Ricky Skaggs, and Jesse McReynolds.

Peter Rowan has been a mainstay on the music scene for more than four decades. In 1964, he signed on as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Later, he collaborated with David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Richard Greene, Vassar Clements, and others. He embarked on a solo career in 1978. These days, his bands include the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, the Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet, and the Free Mexican Air Force.

In the late 1960s, mandolinist Roland White spent nearly two years as guitarist with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He was already a veteran of the Country Boys a band he organized with his siblings when they were youngsters and the Kentucky Colonels. After his stint with Monroe, Roland played with Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, Country Gazette, and the Grammy-winning Nashville Bluegrass Band. He now leads the Roland White Band.

Fresh out of high school, Blake Williams toured with Bobby Smith & The Boys From Shiloh, then worked with Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass and James Monroe's Midnight Ramblers. From 1981 to 1991, he was with the Blue Grass Boys the group's longest-tenured banjo player. He followed with a bass-playing stint with Hee Haw star Mike Snider. His current band is the Expedition Show, which includes his wife, Kimberly, on bass.

Actress Sue Scott, Tim Russell (the man of many voices), and sound-effects wizard Fred Newman will also be on hand, along with the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, led by pianist Richard Dworsky.

Prairie Home creator and host Garrison Keillor is the recipient of Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, and he has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His books include Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, A Christmas Blizzard, Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance, and Good Poems: American Places, a third volume of poetry selected by Keillor.

Currently in its 38th season, A Prairie Home Companion is heard on some 600 public radio stations nationwide, including WKMS, 91.3 FM in Murray. The show has a weekly audience that tops 4 million listeners.

Tickets for the two-hour live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion range from $15 to $39.50. They are available at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the CFSB Center Box Office. Murray State students receive a discount with ID.

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