by Anna Pulley
A Prairie Home Companion’s new host — mandolinist, singer, and songwriter Chris Thile (pronounced thee-lee), of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers acclaim — has announced his house band, which includes Acoustic Guitar favorites Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, Chris Eldridge (his bandmate in Punch Brothers).
Punch Brothers’ bassist Paul Kowert is also in the Prairie Home Companion band, along with fiddler Brittany Haas and drummer Ted Poor.
Thile takes the reins of the popular public radio show starting October 15, in a run that will include a 30-week season of live broadcasts, produced shows, and repeats on public radio stations around the country.
Thile aims to bring a fresh approach to the long-running show, and plans to draw new, younger audience members into the fold, as well as satisfying its already loyal followers with a mix of well-known and up-and-coming musicians, sketch comedy, and spoken word. In addition, Thile will compose an original “Song of the Week.” His Super Bowl-inspired “Omahallelujah” became the most-watched song on APHC’s YouTube channel. Watch it above.
Keillor described Thile as “a brilliant musician,” and says that selecting him as host was “the best idea I’ve had since Powdermilk Biscuits.”
Thile has been a repeat guest on the program throughout the years, and is thrilled for the chance to steer the prairie, well, home. “The template Garrison created is infinite in its capacity to surprise, delight, and comfort, and is as malleable as it is sturdy,” he says. “Being able to explore what can be done with it on a weekly basis is as thrilling a prospect as I can possibly imagine.”