Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon Category Archive: Saturdays

Adam Granger & Bingham & Thorne

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 22, 2010 by Dale Connelly (1 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on MPR News stations, we'll have more middle aged guitar guys than a Nashville Elk's convention. My three guests are seasoned gentlemen who have made their musical marks and in theory they have nothing left to prove.
And yet they carry on with energy and enthusiasm.

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Frequent Prairie Home Companion guest and Powdermilk Biscuit Band founding member Adam Granger will stop by to talk about his latest project - a collection of songs written by his friend and former art teacher, Nashville songwriter John Hadley. Adam is a very clever songwriter who has penned more than a few memorable phrases, so when he said Hadley's work was an inspiration, it made me want to know more. We'll find out what it takes for one songwriter to make a lasting impression on another in the first hour of tonight's show.

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In hour two, we'll hear from the kind of duo that could only exist in Minnesota - one is a founder of the Lamont Cranston Band who "retired" from music and the other is a bluesy carpenter who loves to play guitar when he's not building houses. They met in the north woods fifteen years ago and decided to form a partnership which endures to this day. Bob Bingham and Gordon Thorne will show us how it sounds when a couple of guys play for the love of music, and we'll hear (once again) why you should be careful around nail guns.

Adam Granger, Bob Bingham & Gordon Thorne tonight from 9 to 11 pm on Radio Heartland region-wide on Minnesota Public Radio News stations.

This program will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6pm on radioheartland.org and on digital radio at 91.1 HD2 KNOW in the Twin Cities.

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Carrie Rodriguez & Fire!

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 15, 2010 by Dale Connelly
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on MPR News stations, Carrie Rodriguez stops by to talk about her new recording, "Love & Circumstance". Although she is a songwriter, this disc is a series of covers of songs by other artists, including one by her father, singer / songwriter David Rodriguez, who wrote "When I Heard Gypsy Davy Sing".
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Carrie says that's where the title of the album comes from - a line in the song that asks "What raging love, what circumstance, what urge to be alone"? She adds: "He's talking about what would make a man leave his family and his home to go out to find himself. It's very personal. It's his autobiographical take on this character Gypsy Davy ... Gypsy Davy appears in folk songs. He's the wandering troubador - a ladies man. My dad takes on the persona of gypsy davy ... he's a singer songwriter from Texas and he left the U.S. when I was about fifteen, went on tour in Holland, and he's never been back to the U.S. since." Carrie Rodriguez will sing her father's song and will talk about overcoming her early reluctance to sing in public, preferring to be a fiddler and "sideman".

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In hour two - Fire! Another one of the "theme" hours in our Radio Heartland catalog, this time we'll look through the library for signs of lyrical smoldering that could lead to blazes and catastrophic conflagrations that may be real or romantic, or both. Expect to hear songs from Johnny Cash (of course), Louis Armstrong, Death Cab for Cutie and Bill Morrissey, just to name a few.

Carrie Rodriguez and Flaming Songs of Fire, tonight from 9 to 11 on Radio Heartland.
This program will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6pm online on radioheartland.org and in the Twin Cities on 91.1 HD2, KNOW.

Bob Franke & Eliza Gilkyson

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 1, 2010 by Dale Connelly (2 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on MPR news stations, I'll talk with two of America's finest songwriters.

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In hour one, Bob Franke stops by for a conversation about key elements that make a song powerful. With compositions like "Hard Love" and "Thanksgiving Eve", Franke shows how a song can get inside complicated relationships and describe simple but profound emotions. He is highly regarded as a teacher and performer and regularly leads songwriting workshops at festivals coast to coast. We'll talk about his craft and what Joni Mitchell once called "useful songs."

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In hour two, Eliza Gilkyson visits to talk about her masterful 2008 recording "Beautiful World". She admits to saying things in this song collection that made some people uncomfortable at the time, but I contend that events have made her look like an oracle. We'll talk about sustainability, hairstyles, her interest in "big systems" that influence how the world works, and the importance of having fun.

Bob Franke and Eliza Gilkyson tonight from 9 to 11 on Radio Heartland on MPR News Stations. This program will also be heard online on radioheartland.org at noon on Sunday and at 6pm on Monday, May 3rd.

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Jaspar Lepak & Archie Fisher

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 24, 2010 by Dale Connelly
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News stations, we'll hear from a couple of people who we caught up with when they were far, far away from home.

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In the first hour, a singer songwriter who has made her home in the Twin Cities for the past decade. Jaspar Lepak has worked as part of the local music scene and has produced a handful of recordings. Six months ago she and her husband accepted a temporary move to follow his work to Durban, South Africa. Although a half a world away, she has still managed to release a new recording, "Send Me Home", which is NOT about wanting to leave Durban. She'll explain the title song as we hear a few excerpts from the new disc.

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In hour two, a legendary Scottish musician, songwriter, record producer and BBC radio host, Archie Fisher. Archie spent a few extra days in Minnesota this week, thanks to Iceland's temperamental volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. We managed to catch him just weeks after the last broadcast episode of his long-running radio program, Traveling Folk - a career change that oddly enough has made it possible for him to do more traveling.

Two fish temporarily out of their usual water swim through our pond tonight on Radio Heartland on MPR news stations. This program will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6pm on radioheartland.org, and on KNOW 91.1HD 2 in the Twin Cities.


Peter Mayer & Anais Mitchell

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 17, 2010 by Dale Connelly (4 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays

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Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio news stations, we'll try to maintain our sense of wonder about the amazing world we live in and hear about a re-imagining of the classic story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Peter Mayer is my guest in the first hour. He's just about to release his 9th recording, a disc called "Heaven Below", with a concert at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on Saturday, April 24th. It continues a rich musical exploration that has always been Peter's hallmark - a scientifically informed and spiritually grounded view of creation that emphasizes gratitude and awe.
And he also sings about hats.

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In hour two, another musician with an uncommon perspective on the struggle between darkness and light - Vermont's Anais Mitchell will talk about her version of the Orpheus myth as staged in a folk opera called "Hadestown". Four years ago she took this show on the road, performing and refining it with a group of friends around New England. Now the project has been recorded with an all star (for folk music) cast that includes Greg Brown, Ani DiFranco and Justin Vernon.

Peter Mayer and Anais Mitchell, tonight on Radio Heartland from 9 to 11 pm on MPR news stations. This program will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6pm.

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Romi Mayes & Speeding Songs

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 10, 2010 by Dale Connelly
Filed under: Saturdays

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Tonight on Radio Heartland from 9 to 11 on Minnesota Public Radio News Stations, I'll talk with a hard working Canadian songwriter and free spirit named Romi Mayes. Mayes says she identifies musically with "any woman with an edge", which puts her in good company with well known edge flaunters Lucinda Williams and Mary Gauthier. Romi Mayes' new recording, "Achin' In Yer Bones" has been nominated for one of Canada's Juno Awards as Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. The honors will be presented in St. John's, Newfoundland on April 18th. We'll talk about her footloose youth and how she and Gurf Morlix "almost killed someone" in one of their songs.

Hour two is a repeat of last October's survey of songs from our Radio Heartland library about high velocity. With a lovely spring weekend underway, you could feel an urge to put the top down and hit the gas. We won't do anything to discourage you, other than to suggest that you drive safely and obey all local traffic laws. And make sure the car is really a convertible before you try to retract the roof.

This program will be repeated on radioheartland.org on Sunday at noon and Monday at 6 pm.

A World of Talent

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 3, 2010 by Dale Connelly
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News stations, we'll get a preview of the April Americana Showcase featuring a handful of talented young Twin Cities songwriters - Molly Maher, Adam Levy, Darren Jackson, Jeremy Messersmith, and the series host, Brandon Sampson.

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These five musicians met at the Rochester Civic Theater last November to trade some tunes and share a few laughs about the love they all have for sad, pretty songs. In the second hour of tonight's program we'll get a song from each participant. The full concert can be heard online at radioheartland.org and on digital radio (KNOW 91.1 HD2) in the Twin Cities at 6pm Sunday April 4th and 1pm Wednesday April 7th.

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In the first hour, we'll reprise a Radio Heartland show from June of 2009 that included some remarkable local and international talent - interviews with Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson of Australia, and Marc Gartman and the band Two Many Banjos, from Duluth.

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We span the globe for songwriters galore tonight from 9 to 11 pm on MPR news.

This program will be repeated on radioheartland.org Sunday at noon and Monday at 6 pm.

Natural Forces

Posted at 6:00 AM on March 27, 2010 by Dale Connelly (3 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays


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Claudia Schmidt can overwhelm a person with torrents of poetry and song. Her head is full of stories and she's very busy performing and recording them with as much energy as she has at any time in her 30 year career. Claudia is featured in the first hour of Radio Heartland tonight, doing some songs from her new CD, "Promising Sky".

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In the second hour, there'll be actual gales with rain and wind alongside floods, numerous tornadoes and a volcanic eruption as we re-visit an hour from last summer that featured a collection of musical natural disasters. That's part of the misery connected with Mother Nature's earnest attempts to kill us - she keeps trying.

Forces of nature are featured tonight from 9 to 11 pm on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News stations. These hours will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6 p.m. online at radioheartland.org and on digital radio in the Twin Cities.

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Ann Reed & Eliza Blue

Posted at 6:00 AM on March 20, 2010 by Dale Connelly (4 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News stations, two local singers at very different points in their careers.

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In the first hour, folk music stalwart Ann Reed, who has a devoted following and a vast catalog of excellent work to draw on, is trying something remarkable and new. She's joining with friend Denise Tabet to sing the words of Dorothy Fields, a female pioneer in the mostly male world of Tin Pan Alley lyricists. Sure, you've heard Ann sing "Heroes" a thousand times. But have you heard her do "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"? Ever? You'll get a chance at 7pm on Saturday, March 27th at the Loring Park Community Center in Minneapolis.
Radio Heartland will offer a preview tonight.


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In hour two, Eliza Blue stops by our studio with cellist Aliya Maze and washboard wizard Mikkel Beckmen. Eliza came from suburban Detroit and as a youth she moved with her family to Minnesota where she picked up a love for lovely, sometimes dark ballads. She plays fiddle and banjo and appears regularly on local stages as a member of various groups and increasingly as a soloist. Her new recording, "The Road Home", was recorded in an attic in Minneapolis and will have it's official release on Friday, March 26th at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.

Ann Reed and Eliza Blue, tonight from 9 to 11 pm on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio news stations. This program will be repeated at noon on Sunday and 6pm on Monday, March 22nd on radioheartland.org.

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The Wailin' Jennys & A Herd of Cattle (songs)

Posted at 6:00 AM on March 13, 2010 by Dale Connelly (1 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays

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Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News stations, The Wailin' Jennys come to visit. After their last tour, Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse' took one and a half years off to pursue some exciting diversions (including the birth of Nicky's twins), and a few weeks ago they made St. Paul the first stop as The Wailin' Jennys hit the road once again. We'll talk about the importance of planning and how useful it is to have a good lullaby at the ready when there are two babies in the van. The hour will also feature a wealth of music from some legendary and freshly-minted female vocal trios, including the Boswell Sisters, the Andrews Sisters, Sometymes Why and Red Molly.

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In hour two, a herd of cattle inexplicably thunders across our radio landscape. I have always thought that men and women are compelled by nature to write songs about each other, and that working through romantic love in song is an essential human task.
But sometimes this drive expresses itself in odd ways, and I was astonished to discover the sheer number of songs in our library that wax romantic about cows and the cowpoke lifestyle. Mooo!

That's tonight on Radio Heartland from 9 to 11 on MPR news stations, repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6pm at radioheartland.org

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Romantica & Bill Staines

Posted at 6:00 AM on March 6, 2010 by Dale Connelly (2 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays


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Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News Stations, we'll hear excerpts from The Americana Showcase recorded last October at the Rochester Civic Theater. The Band Six Mile Grove, Tom Feldman, and Romantica appeared on the program. The concert will be heard in its entirety on online on radioheartland.org tomorrow at 6pm, and Wednesday afternoon at 1.

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In hour two, I'll visit with singer/songwriter Bill Staines. Bill has been performing his own music for well over 40 years, and on a recent swing through Minnesota we talked about his inspirations and the work and travel habits that have kept him productive and sane.

Excerpts from The Americana Showcase and Bill Staines this Saturday on Radio Heartland. This program will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday evening at 6 on radioheartland.org, and at 91.1 HD 2 KNOW in the Twin Cities.

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Todd Menton & Ben Woolman

Posted at 6:00 AM on February 13, 2010 by Dale Connelly (1 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays


Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News Stations, we'll hear from two local musicians who are devoted to their work and who both took inspiration from a similar roster of role models in somewhat different directions.

Todd Menton has been a member of the acoustic/electric tradition-inspired rock band Boiled In Lead, off and on, for about 25 years. He has also performed at the annual Renaissance Festival and as a soloist throughout his long career. He has an ear for traditional music and a thoroughly modern sense of humor - an intriguing combination that has led him to write songs about Silver Carp, Bigfoot and a consistently underrated small-bore gunfighter known as The .22 Man.

Ben Woolman has been a performing artist for about half as long as Todd. They were both inspired by Leo Kottke's guitar playing, but Ben focused his energies solely on the instrument - his new recording "Many Moods" has no vocals - it presents a universe of feeling on just six strings.

Ben Woolman and Todd Menton tonight on Radio Heartland.
This program will be repeated Sunday at noon and Monday at 6pm on radioheartland.org and on digital radio in the Twin Cities at 91.1 HD 2.

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Two Trios

Posted at 6:00 AM on February 6, 2010 by Dale Connelly
Filed under: Saturdays

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Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News Stations, you'll hear from two trios.

In the first hour, I'll welcome Regina Marie Williams, Sanford Moore and Dennis Spears to the Maude Moon Weyerhauser Music Studio at MPR.
Regina is a well known Twin Cities area singer and actor, appearing onstage at the Guthrie, the Ordway, Penumbra Theater and Children's Theater just to name a few. Her performance as Dinah Washington in "Dinah Was" is especially memorable. Along with T. Mychael Rambo and Thomasina Petrus, these three are doing a Valentine's Eve show at the Capri Theater in Minneapolis.
We'll talk about love songs and the theatrical value of reciting Bible verses.

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In the second hour, we'll listen in on part of a songwriters-in-the-round concert from the Americana Showcase series in Rochester, Minnesota. Series organizer Brandon Sampson and Nashville singer-songwriters Sally Barris and Don Henry are featured.

The concert can be heard in its entirety online and on digital radio on Radio Heartland (radioheartland.org) (91.1 HD 2 in Minneapolis and St. Paul) Sunday evening at 6pm and Wednesday afternoon at 1.

David Hanners & Songs About Towns

Posted at 6:00 AM on January 30, 2010 by Dale Connelly (4 Comments)
Filed under: Saturdays

Tonight on Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio News stations I'll visit with St. Paul Pioneer Press writer David Hanners, who is also a singer/songwriter with a new recording, "The Traveler's Burden". Hanners is originally from Illinois and not surprisingly he draws inspiration from the news and historical research when crafting his songs. He quotes Woody Guthrie's collaborator, Cisco Houston, when asked about the connection between his two lines of work:

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"A folk song is a way of singing out the news -- of a wedding, a murder, good times or bad, good people or bad. It is one way of making a record of memorable things that happened. In the days before newspapers, and among people who could not have read them even if they had existed, the folk song was a kind of chronicle and running commentary on the times. Many folk songs have lived for hundreds of years, while nothing is more dead than yesterday's newspaper."

In the second hour, I'll dig into the library for songs of place - specifically songs about towns, named and unnamed. This is a musical thread that can be followed as long as one cares to chase it. Songwriters always see another town on the horizon or are happy to be leaving one in the rearview mirror. Or both. We'll visit musical representations of Chicago, Atlanta, Tulsa, Birmingham, Petaluma and Red Wing, just to name a few.

This show will be repeated online at radioheartland.org and on digital radio in the Twin Cities (91.1 HD2) on Sunday at noon, and Monday at 6pm.

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