Thursday, October 20, 2016

A New Prairie Home Companion

I didn't make much time over the last couple of decades to watch Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. It was hard to find the time to dedicate two hours to a radio variety program every Saturday night. I would catch it here and there, usually while traveling on the road. Still, it gave me comfort that this show was on the air. I remember as a kid listening to it off and on. As a kid I didn't get it. I didn't get the humor or appreciate the music. As I grew up I gained an appreciation for bluegrass and roots music. And I began to catch the wry subtlety of Keillor's dispatches from Lake Wobegon.

Even though I didn't get to listen to it much it still gave me nostalgic comfort that there was still a place on the radio that every Saturday people could listen to homespun humor and Americana music.

Well, Keillor finally hung it up. He retired after over four decades as the founder, director and host of the show. And surprisingly he turned over the reins to one of my musical heroes, Chris Thile. I've been listening to Chris Thile for over ten years ever since I first saw him on Austin City Limits. He and his group, Nickel Creek, blew me away. Then he later formed the amazing band, Punch Brothers. He is a virtuoso on mandolin, a great singer and composer. He even once received the MacArthur Genius Grant.

Thile took over this past week as the new permanent host of Prairie Home Companion. I didn't actually listen to it on the radio. I watched it. I live streamed it on my TV via YouTube Saturday night. It was a fantastic debut show. Great guests like another of my heroes, Jack White and the band Lake Street Dive. Thile's monologue was spot on and the radio bits were good. The show is going to focus more on music, which is fine by me.

I may not always have two hours each Saturday night to give it a listen or a watch. But I'm going to give it a shot. The show is a relaxing way to end the week. It takes me back to a slower, more relaxed time which may or may not have actually existed. But it's nice to think there was such a time.