When American Public Media announced last December that its historic radio variety show "A Prairie Home Companion" would be changing its name a year after changing hosts, many wondered how much of the magic of the original show could be retained.
Live from Here with Chris Thile
Jan. 13, 2018
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Short answer: all of it. Even if the content is a little different.
Now called "Live From Here," the program is led by folk and bluegrass musician Chris Thile. On Jan. 13, Thile is joined at the Keller Auditorium by acclaimed art-pop duo Tune-Yards, Willie Watson and the Fairfield Four, and stand-up comedians the Lucas Brothers.
Thile — virtuoso mandolinist and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter from Oceanside, Calif. — took the reins from Garrison Keillor in 2016, intent on keeping the spirit of the show alive, even if the format is slightly altered.
A little over a year after taking over hosting duties, Thile and Minnesota Public Radio — which broadcasts the show — had to contend with allegations of improper behavior against Keillor by a female co-worker. Part of the response to the allegations was to change the name of the show, which until that point had continued to use the name "A Prairie Home Companion."
Thile said that the new name "captures the energy and enthusiasm that is really at the core of the show."
The new show emphasizes musicianship and spotlights exciting new musical voices over the comedic storytelling that characterized Keillor's program. Thile says that the key to attracting new, younger audiences — while preserving "Home Companion's" long-time fans — is the music.
The centerpiece of each "Live From Here" performance is Thile's Song of the Week. He writes and performs a new composition — whose lyrical and instrumental content explores and parodies current events — for each broadcast.
No more is the newscast from the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, or the recurring "Lives of the Cowboys" sketch, or many of the long-running inside jokes that so endeared audiences to Keillor's program. Instead, these slots will be filled with extra musical and comedy guests.