A Prairie Home Companion: America the Beautiful Tour

I have fond memories of being a child in the ’70s, lounging on pillows on the floor with my family in a darkened room. Don’t be alarmed! We were listening to A Prairie Home Companion — and somehow, listening in the dark made it easier to imagine what we were hearing. It’s a tradition I have carried on today, although I am most likely cooking dinner (with the lights on) while Garrison Keillor is spinning his yarns each Saturday night. I have had the great pleasure of attending several live broadcasts of the show when they have been at The Town Hall in NYC. When I heard that their America the Beautiful tour was coming to the recently renovated Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, I leaped at the chance to see the PHC crew live on my home turf. What I did not know at the time was that this was to be a farewell tour for Mr. Keillor, who will be phasing out of the radio show during the upcoming 2015/2016 season. He started the show back in 1974 and he is looking forward to a well-earned retirement. He will make guest appearances from time to time, but he has apparently tapped Chris Thile (of the bands Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek) to take his place. Tonight’s show was filled with music and memories of many years of making this special radio show. Not surprisingly, the whole evening was tinged with nostalgia — and plenty of laughs. Guy Noir made an appearance (looking for a certain dentist from Minnesota), and Rich Dworsky, Sarah Jarosz and the band made terrific music (both with and without Mr. Keillor.) Fred Newman went all out with his fabulous sound effects, and once again, Mr. Keillor enfolded us in wonderful tales from Lake Wobegon. For true fans of the radio series, it was a wonderful — and bittersweet — evening.

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