As a permanently displaced Minnesotan whose garage is adorned with Minnesota Vikings fan paraphernalia and hockey equipment, I have a special place in my heart for Garrison Keillor. It's not that I like folk music or obsess over the weekly news from Lake Wobegon. It's that as a the son of a life-long Minnesota Public Radio member, I had no choice but to be pulled into Keillor's elaborate fictional world which he spun every Saturday night from the Fitzgerald Theater in my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Since that time Keillor's variety show has traveled the world, including a stint where he temporarily relocated to New York City. These days he's back where he belongs, in St. Paul, which as most Minnesotans, know is only a two-hour drive from Lake Wobegon. But you don't have to travel 2,000 miles to see Keillor in person.
This year, he brings his stage show to Bend's Les Schwab Amphitheater as part of his Summer of Love tour. The performance, which is sandwiched between stops in Boise and Saragtoga, Calif. is billed as a night of Passionate Duets, Hot Jazz and Catchup. In other words, it's all the wry humor, satire and storytelling that you expect from the king of understatement. Of course it will all be wrapped up in a cornucopia of American roots music, and we're not talking about the kind of roots music that is casually applied to any contemporary rock band with a tambourine and a few bearded musicians. Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" is a musical time capsule drawing heavily on the early days of American gospel, jazz and bluegrass.It's the perfect backdrop from which Keillor spins his whimsical yarns about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon and its inhabitants as well as other characters, such as the Bogart-inspired detective, Guy Noir. Speaking of Noir, Keillor has been known to craft the detective's segments around the town from where the show is being broadcast. So don't be surprised to hear Noir cracking the case of a missing clothesline on Awbrey Butte, or some such Bend-oriented intrigue when the show stops here.