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Grand Forks' Brosseau to be guest on 'A Prairie Home Companion'

Tom Brosseau will be a guest Sat. on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," a radio show heard by more than 4.3 million listeners weekly.

Singer/songwriter and Grand Forks native Tom Brosseau will be a guest Saturday on Garrison Keillor's iconic radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" which will air live beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday on Prairie Public radio.

A graduate of Red River High School and UND, Brosseau lives, records and performs in southern California and has released five proper studio albums under his own name, including "Grand Forks" and "Cavalier." In September, he released "Les Shelleys" with Angela Correa.

Brosseau has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, but Saturday's performance could be his biggest audience ever. "A Prairie Home Companion" is heard on nearly 600 public radio stations across the U.S., drawing more than 4.3 million listeners weekly.

The program website is billing Brosseau as an "American musical storyteller."

Saturday's "A Prairie Home Companion" also will be the first time in years that Keillor will step back from hosting the program. The last time anyone can remember Keillor taking a break from his hosting duties, Gerald Ford was president.

"This Saturday, he's going to sit back and relax while Sara Watkins intros the guests, cracks the jokes and plays a little string music all her own," according to the "A Prairie Home Companion" website.

Watkins, a singer and fiddler for the group Nickel Creek, will host from St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater. Although he won't host, Keillor still will be in skits and deliver the "News from Lake Wobegon."

Keillor said he had never seen the show himself. For once, he said, he wanted "to stand in the back of the hall and watch for a few minutes," according to The Associated Press.

In addition to Brosseau, special guests will include claw hammer-banjo jammer Abigail Washburn. The show will feature Guy Noir and Lefty the cowboy, the deep winter "News from Lake Wobegon"; and the Royal Academy of Radio Actors; Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Tom Keith, plus The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band.

Watkins, 29, performed 25 shows with Keillor last summer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Although he denies that this is a tryout for Watkins, it could be the first sign that Keillor, 68, is following up on his 2010 promise to find a host to replace him.

"I haven't set a date," he said. "I've told my colleagues on the show and people at American Public Media (the show's distributor) that I really want the show to continue. But everybody comes to the end probably sooner than you think you're going to. I have no interest in trying to outlast myself. I'll be 70 in 2012. I'm not sure that a person ought to be doing this much beyond 70, to be perfectly frank with you."

He would like a new host who is young, adventurous and a musician. "

I don't think the storytelling aspect of the show is as crucial" as musical prowess, he said. He also told the Star Tribune: "Sara is a San Diegan, and I don't think she's interested in moving to Minnesota. She hasn't said she is."

Brosseau's "Les Shelleys" recording with Correa took his already spare singing style a step further as he and Correa taught each other vintage songs, took them apart and put them back together again, Brosseau said in a September interview with the Herald. The CD's 12 tracks feature "Rum & Coca Cola," "Green Door" and other harmony-heavy voice and guitar arrangements of American standards and folk traditionals.

"This is basically us sitting down at a kitchen table and singing songs from memory," Brosseau said.