A Prairie Home Companion and We Were There!

Garrison who?

Some twenty years ago my sister gave me an album on cassette tape (remember those…or maybe not).  She’d heard about the performer, Garrison Keillor, on CBC radio.  Mr. Keillor, an American, is well-known as an National Public Radio (NPR) radio performer, an author, a humourist and essayist.  The album was “A Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra” and I listened to it time and time again.  I enjoyed the music and the stories that went with the album.  This makes me think I should likely buy it again-in a format I can listen to these days.

A Prairie Home Companion

Garrison Keillor is the host of the weekly NPR radio show A Prairie Home Companion (PHC). I often listen to the archived shows.  There was a 2006 movie of the same name.  The movie was set around a single radio show and used the same set that Keillor and colleagues perform on at each show.  The show is quirky and warm and often showcases well-known performers as well as  local musical talent (the show is based in Minneapolis but does travel across the U.S. during the year).

Tanglewood, June 30, 2012

We seized an opportunity to see a live performance of the PHC last week in Lenox, Massachusetts.  The venue is Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston
Symphony Orchestra.  

The stage is in the “shed” and you can purchase tickets either in the shed or out on the lawn.  We learned that to picnic on the lawn before and during the concert is part of the charm of Tanglewood performances.  The venue (The Serge Koussevitzky Music Shed and lawn) can accommodate upwards of 20,000.  

The day was perfect, June 30th, 2012 as we drove to Tanglewood.  It was sunny and very warm, with a little breeze. The concert was great.  Keillor said (tongue in cheek) they like to give local talent a chance and so had Arlo Guthrie as one of the guests.  You can hear the show on the archives of the PHC website.  I was thrilled to be at the concert and enjoyed the evening immensely.  

The Encores

And one of the very best parts of the experience was what happened after the live broadcast (2 hours) signed off.  The PHC broadcast starts at 6pm and ends around 8pm. A number of audience members left early, probably thinking getting out of the parking area would be a nightmare.  Another number left at the end of the show while many of us stayed and called for an encore.  And did we get encores.  Pure singing-some folk, some songs from long ago (my Dad would have loved their choices) and some rock and roll.  All the band and guest performers (e.g. Arlo Guthrie) came out and the songs went on one after the other.  The audience stood and clapped and sang and danced.  They walked up the aisles to get closer to the stage soaking up the experience.

After they had played for almost an additional two hours and left the stage for the third time we started toward the car.  We weren’t aware of the after show soiree and we hadn’t eaten.  It was closing on to 10pm.  We were on our way to the parking lot and heard the band start up again!  

PHC/Tanglewood Advice

  • If you have a chance, attend a PHC live performance-no matter where it’s being held
  • If you go to Tanglewood buy tickets in the Shed
  • Arrive early (grounds open at 4 pm for 5:45 pm show)
  • Pack a lovely picnic lunch with accompanying beverages.  Eat on the lawn and then pack up the bits, take them back to the car and take your seat in the shed.  
  • Buy tickets for next year…I plan to!  

Do you have a concert or live show experience that stands out in your memory?  A performance you found so very enjoyable.  What were the reasons? Who you attended with, the performer, the venue, the weather…it seems a combination of all of the above for me.  



4 thoughts on “A Prairie Home Companion and We Were There!

  1. Our family has had season tickets to the Saskatchewan Arts Council presentations in Yorkton,ever since our youngest was in Kindergarten. Performers have ranged from a Chinese Circus, Natalie McMaster and the Symphony. One evening after a particularly rushed time of getting ready and organized to travel the hour to the ‘Show’ , we packed everyone in the car..4 children under the age of 12 and proceeded to the Anne Portnuff Theatre where the Canadian Soprano and entertainer Mary Lou Fallis was going to perform. For whatever reason which might have been good or might not have been good, I was not too concerned about the children’s dress this particular evening. After all..we would be sitting in the dark. Who would actually see them dressed in winter coats and touques and boots? No reason to check matching socks, comb hair, or wear ‘best’ clothes ? Apparantly there was a reason…that reason being that Mary Lou Fallis herself came down off the stage after spying my four children sitting in the front row and proceeded to take their hands and take them onto the STAGE..badly brushed hair, weird socks, patched bluejeans et al, and used them to be part of her song involving horses, carriage driver and coachmen. :(. An evening to remember in this Mother’s life.

    1. And a great memory it is, I’m sure. The thing is, Mary Lou Fallis was happy to have them there. It’s concerts like that which may kindle a lifelong interest in a child. I imagine that is a concert to remember in a child’s life as well as a Mother’s. Great story.

  2. I have the CD of A Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra. I enjoy Garrison Keillor but rarely listen to him. I think your trip to Tanglewood was wonderful and wish I could go with you some year.
    And that is a great picture of you. Miss you guys.

    1. I enjoy listening to archived shows while at the computer doing things that don’t need big time concentration…or when I have ABW-Anything But Work syndrome. I would think much of his humour would be the sort you would enjoy. Wish you could join us at Tanglewood some year too…it’s on eastern side of the continent so closer to Ukraine. And we miss you. Thanks for the note.

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