If you didn't already know that I'm old, white and liberal, let me just confirm that for you by telling you that I'm an avid fan of public radio shows. Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Whaddya Know (which we saw in Memphis several years back), all of them. So when Prairie Home Companion tickets went on sale late last year, Chip snagged a pair as my birthday gift.
Since Garrison Keillor retired last year, the show is now hosted by Chris Thile (THEE-lay), a very talented mandolin player formerly of Nickel Creek. And since the Lake Wobegon resident went and got himself in trouble for sexual misconduct, the show has now re-branded itself as "Live From Here." Which, I get what they were going for, but that sounds like a name they came up with as a placeholder on the fly.
Chris has made the show more music-based and less skits since taking over. There's no Guy Noir or Dusty & Lefty. No powdermilk biscuits or rhubarb pie. The sound effects guy is still there though so that's cool.
Chris is an energetic and personable host. I loved his opening comments about being in New Orleans. I love hearing anyone sing the praises of this city but his comments were especially charming and funny. "New Orleans, when life gives you lemons, you turn them into limes and make a daiquiri...which you give to a shivering tourist and make yourself a sazerac!" He called the elixir an eraser of memories: "What contaminated water? What playoff game? What government shutdown??"
The show was very entertaining with a variety of music performances. The Garden & Gun "Whole Hog" podcast has me dipping my toe into the Americana music pool, so the folk/progressive bluegrass of Chris and his band Punch Brothers was just my style. His duet partner in New Orleans was Gaby Moreno, who had a beautiful, strong voice. The band played the Song of the Week which I loved but can't seem to find the name of it online anywhere. Maybe they don't have names. Maybe it's just SOTW.
The first musical guest was the "electro-pop" band Sylvan Esso. It comprised a girl singer in a fuzzy Muppet-fur sweater and a guy jerking around like an epileptic playing a...laptop?
I've never felt so old.
She sang, "I was gonna die young, but now I have to wait for you." I have no idea what that even means.
Intermission came entirely too soon. Chris encouraged the audience to tweet him what song they wanted the band to play. He came back and performed "Amos Moses" by Jerry Reed. Two thumbs up and crying-laughing face!
Of course the audience went bananas for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They performed a couple of tunes and Gaby Moreno sang Iko Iko with them. It was so great and fun! Here's a snippet, just try not to dance along:
The final musical guest was John Prine which...who doesn't love John Prine? Although I always think of him as a Memphis artist. Probably because way back in my 20s before I was married I used to hang out a bit with Todd Snider and he had all these stories about getting his start with John Prine and Oh Boy Records. One of the stories involved driving in a car and the car phone rang and it was Jimmy Buffet, who was driving behind them. I think it ended with everyone going and getting drunk.
I don't, however, think of John Prine as being like...80.
Yikes. Yet another reminder that YOU'RE NOT 30 ANYMORE KALISA.
The show was an absolute delight and I can't think my husband enough for the kind and thoughtful birthday gift.