For my father’s day gift from my wife Elisa we went the following Saturday (June 27) to Lenox, Massachusetts and Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was our fourth visit to Tanglewood and the third time that we saw Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion performed there. The guests that were scheduled to appear were Martin Sheen, Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan, and singer Heather Masse. During the brief warm-up before the show goes live on the radio, Garrison announced that Arlo Guthrie would also perform.
In a word, the show was awesome. Arlo played a couple of nice songs during the show and the set for the Lefty and Dusty skit was “Arlo’s Bar.” Comedian Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers played four songs from Steve Martin’s album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo. Heather Masse and Keillor sang some songs together and sounded great, and the Guy Noir skit and the News from Lake Wobegon were both excellent. I wish I could have had a chance to listen to a bit more of Stuart Duncan’s fiddle playing, as he mostly sat in with the band., but was featured on a tune.
The best part of the show, for me, was after the two-hour live radio broadcast was over. Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers did a great version of Orange Blossom Special, and Arlo came out at one point, sat at the Piano, and did his version of the Steve Goodman penned tune, City of New Orleans. Most of the rest of the 75-minute encore was crowd sing-alongs to standards sung by Garrison and his guests.
There were some passing thunderstorms during the show, so I was very happy we were under the roof–the folks out on the lawn were looking pretty wet by the time the show was over. I submitted a greeting at the beginning, and it was one of the greetings that Garrison Keillor read during the show’s intermission, so that was pretty exciting.
The Berkshires are beautiful and Lenox is a wonderful town to visit. We got there early so we could visit The Mount, the Lenox mansion that author Edith Wharton had built at the turn of the 20th century. It’s still under renovation, but in a very real sense it is a living museum of Wharton’s life, and would make a a great side trip for anyone with an interest in American literature.