A Prairie Home Companion’s 1273rd Show

I was inspired by last nights live performance of “Prairie Home Companion”, the unique, one-of-a-kind radio show that’s produced out of St. Paul at the beautiful, old Fitzgerald Theatre, to write this simple ditty. (for more details and to listen to the show, check out http://www.prairiehome.org). I have included some bad photography from our charming, second-tier box seats.

A little background:

The usual cast of characters and musicians were even more entertaining of course, seeing them live and in person. The surprise for us was that Garrison Keillor who began the show in the seventies and is know nationally for his News from Lake Wobegon, was not hosting the show. In his place, if that’s at all possible, was Sara Watkins, a singer, songwriter, and fiddle player, who, at the age of eight won a Grammy.

I was charmed by her soft beauty and wondered if she was chosen for her Swedish-looking, round-cheeked face. Then the show was on the air and I was equally amazed and dazzled by her huge musical talents. Other guests equally enchanting included banjo player Abigail Washburn and her old-time, indie-pop band; and guitar and vocalist Tom Brosseau originally from North Dakota.

In addition to the fabulous music was the hilarious “The Adventures of Guy Noir”, in which private detective Noir stumbled on a liberal conspiracy to impound all the vehicles in the Twin Cities area by snowplowing them into the curbs and then making it impossible to relocate said illegally parked vehicle, finally achieving the goal of forcing everyone to ride public transportation by 2012. It was doubly funny because my friend had her car towed and had a similar experience recovering it. If anything can make cold, snow-bound Minnesotans feel loved, appreciated, and understood, this skit can. It can also make us laugh.

My favorite of all, though, was, no surprise, Garrison Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegon. His mastery of timing, his almost mythic presence under the spotlight, and the jokes were worth double the price of the tickets (which are unbelievably cheap anyway since the production is being funded by the entire country and tickets probably pay only for the room rental).

Here goes:

I loved the way she threw her leg out backwards
when playing merry fiddle or she sang.
I loved the funny skits they did on towing
Cars in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

I loved to watch musicians; one young woman
who strummed the banjo strings so sweet and true.
I loved the crooning blonde from South Dakota
whose tenor voice could reach into the soul.

I loved the silly sounds, the many songs, the merry notes.
I loved the stories told about the cold.
But most of all,The Old Scout in the spotlight,
His news from Wobegon, I was still charmed.

My plan for the daily blogging I signed up for, which, so far, has been every other daily or so, is to write poetry (of the non-poet version), fairy tales and an occasional folk tale (ie, story from my life). (Reader beware: plans are what you make and meanwhile, you’re life goes its own Mary way).

If you’re interested in a lay man’s guide to writing and reading poetry, check out “The Ode Less Travelled” by Stephen Fry. Wonderful, useful, hilarious, like an evening at the Fitzgerald Theatre in Saint Paul.


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