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Across the River - May 27, 2000
Kathy Mattea, Butch Thompson and Nicole Hanson
Cheerfulness: it’s a great American virtue, the essence of who we are when we’re cooking with gas: enthusiasm, high spirits, rise and shine, qwitcher bellyaching, wake up and die right, pick up your feet, step up to the plate and swing for the fences. Smile, dammit. Dance like you mean it and give it some pizzazz, clap on the backbeat. Do your best and forget the rest, da doo ron ron ron da doo ron ron. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, hang by your thumbs and write when you get work, whoopitiyiyo git along little cowboys—and I am an American, I don’t eat my cheeseburger in a croissant, don’t look for a church that serves a French wine and a sourdough wafer for Communion, don’t use words like dodgy, bonkers, knackered, or chuffed. When my team scores, I don’t shout, Très bien!! I don’t indulge in dread and dismay. Yes, I can make a list of evils and perils and injustices in the world, but I believe in a positive attitude and I know that one can do only so much and one should do that much and do it cheerfully. Dread is communicable: healthy rats fed fecal matter from depressed humans demonstrated depressive behavior, including anhedonia and anxiety—crap is bad for the brain. Nothing good comes from this. Despair is surrender. Put your shoulder to the wheel. And wash your hands.
That, my friends, is the first paragraph of my new book, CHEERFULNESS, which is out now and which I am reasonably pleased with, as are my editors Stevie Beck, Hillary Speed, and Katharine Seggerman. The book is available at Garrisonkeillor.com and of course Jeff Bezos has some copies in his basement. Whoopee! Still in business after all these years, still grateful for readers, almost all of whom are younger than I. Three more books in the works, a new podcast on the way, I feel as if I’m just getting up to speed. — GK
For this 2000 featured show, we journey across the river for a show at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, featuring Kathy Mattea, Butch Thompson, Nicole Hanson, plus our talented acting company and fine band.
Highlights include the Benny Goodman tune “Benny’s Bugle” from the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band; Kathy Mattea dazzles the crowd with “Why Can’t We” and “The Innocent Years”; plus Butch Thompson’s “Weeping Willow Blues” and some Robert Schumann from cellist Nicole Hanson on “Nicht Zu Rasch.” Garrison proves he knows a thing or two about Minneapolis and sings with Kathy on “Red River Valley” and shares the latest News from Lake Wobegon. Join us on Facebook at 5:00 p.m. CT this Saturday. Or if you can’t wait, click this LINK now.
Hailed by the Washington Post as “one of Nashville’s finest song interpreters,” Kathy Mattea has enjoyed much success and acclaim during her multidecade career in country, bluegrass, and folk music, including two Grammy wins, four CMA Awards, four No. 1 country singles, and five gold albums (plus a platinum Greatest Hits collection), with enduring songs such as “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” and the poignant “Where’ve You Been?” co-written by her husband, Jon Vezner, with Don Henry. Her latest album is Pretty Bird. Kathy plays shows across the country both solo and with other artists like Suzy Bogguss in addition to hosting and performing on the NPR radio show Mountain Stage.
For 12 years of his four-decade career, Butch Thompson was the house pianist on A Prairie Home Companion, dating back to the show’s second broadcast in July 1974. As a soloist, he had earned a worldwide reputation as a master of ragtime, stride, and classic jazz piano. Described by Jazz Journal International as “the premier player in traditional jazz today,” Thompson also performed with his well-known trio, his eight-piece New Orleans Jazz Originals, and with symphony orchestras, including the Hartford Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Cairo (Egypt) Symphony. Sadly, Butch passed away in 2022.
Nicole Hanson Strydom received her undergraduate and performance certificate at the Eastman School of Music and currently is the artistic Director and cellist for the Jade Ensemble. She has won multiple awards and played with symphonies, played at Carnegie Hall, performed with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and with the Minnesota Orchestra as a soloist. She lives and practices law in Minneapolis.
This week’s classic show originated from St. Paul and Garrison wrote a humorous ode to the city that has often felt a bit second class to Minneapolis. Here are a portion of the lyrics to the song.
Once I lived the life of a real cool guy and real cool friends I had a big supply we went to cool places that only we knew we sneered at the middle class, especially you Then I moved to a smaller town my reputation went way down No longer was I a cut above I was one of the people I had made fun of Everybody Knows It When You're From St. Paul You walk into a hip cafe and all those dudes, they turn away They can tell by your clothes and the way you speak You're small time, you're strictly minor league and they won't speak to you at all Because they know that you're from St Paul You can travel the world and try to get away and be cool again and not passe You can strut your stuff and be dressed to kill but people know you're from nowheresville You think you're a picture of style and grace but you've got St Paul written on your face Its not soul city, just a big small town I'm not Ray Charles, I'm Charlie Brown And everyone knows it when You're from St. Paul
This week’s Featured EVENT - View ALL EVENTS
Join Garrison Keillor on September 17 for “Garrison Keillor Tonight,” an unforgettable evening of stand-up, storytelling, and poetry set in the breathtaking natural wonder of The Caverns in Grundy County, TN. Reserved seating, yurts & VIP packages, and camping passes are on sale now!
Prepare to be captivated by Keillor’s unique blend of sung sonnets, limericks, musical jokes, and tales of the beauty of growing old. Plus you'll hear the news from Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota town Keillor created and featured in his long-running radio show, Prairie Home Companion. Get Tickets to this EVENT.
With this collection, Lake Wobegon's favorite son celebrates 25 years of entertaining radio listeners and live audiences. The silver anniversary anthology features 15 News from Lake Wobegon monologues, including “Cowpies,” “Kristina's Double Date,” and “The Secret Lutherans.”
The best part of this collection is the 5th disc where listeners will discover a treasure trove of songs that were performed live on the show by various guest performers. Among the 25 songs, one song representing each year the show has been on the air, is this duet version of “Back in the City” by Rich Dworsky and Butch Thompson. Click to purchase.
This has quickly become our most popular shirt design! A spring vine scrolls around the classic A Prairie Home Companion microphone logo. This shirt was inspired by a design used by the Grand Old Opry, which itself was the inspiration for Garrison's show! Click here to purchase.
A collection of merchandise curated by Garrison Keillor & staff relating to Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer's Almanac.