Monday, July 8, 2013

Stage Banter: Garrison Keillor


I imagine that most of the posts for our new theme will be introductions to songs, but I could not see letting the theme go by without featuring Garrison Keillor. Keillor is the host of the (usually) weekly radio show on NPR, A Prairie Home Companion. The show features many musical guests from the world of folk music especially, but notable exceptions include Emmy Lou Harris and Nancy Griffith. By all reports, this is a show that many musicians love to appear on, and some come back every chance they get. It certainly sounds that way, based on the quality of the performances.

Garrison Keillor hosts the show and sets the tone. Companion is modeled after old-time radio shows that featured a mix of music and friendly monologues from the host, and this is where Keillor shines. The show takes place in the fictional town of Lake Wobegone, Minnesota. Lake Wobegone is a Norwegian-American Lutheran enclave, (got all that?), and Keillor presents the local news every week. This is really Keillor’s humorous and affectionate tribute to the small town America that exists partly in the American Midwest, and partly in Keillor’s imagination. You can tell that Keillor grew up around people who either lived this way or wanted to remember a fanciful version of their past. Keillor’s gift is to find a wonderful dry humor in this, while never making fun of his subjects. He may tweak them for their foibles, but he remains someone they would want to tell their stories to. The video I have posted comes from a show from January of this year, and Keillor addresses the question, “How cold was it?” This monologue is not collected anywhere, so my purchase link is for an older album that does a great job of showing you what a complete program is like.

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