Pat Donohue and Butch Thompson

About Pat Donohue

As the guitarist for the Guys All-Star Shoe Band of the national radio show A Prairie Home Companion, Pat Donohue is one of the most listened-to finger pickers in the world. In addition to traveling with the show and performing on the weekly radio broadcasts, Pat plays concerts and teaches workshops at the country’s most prestigious theaters and festivals, including the Newport, Telluride and Philadelphia Folk Festivals. He was the 1983 National Finger Picking Guitar Champion and has since gone on to win a Grammy and numerous Minnesota Music Awards. His original tunes have been recorded by Chet Atkins, Suzy Bogguss and Kenny Rogers.

Pat started out playing drums in a garage band, but at age 12 he picked up guitar, learning simple chords and melodies from a Pete Seeger instructional book. The St. Paul native immersed himself in the Minnesota coffeehouses and blue venues where he could hear the guitar legends.

“I was very lucky to see some of the old-timers that aren’t around anymore,” says Pat. “The University of Minnesota had summer concerts in the early 70s and I got to see Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Joe Williams and Jesse Fuller. I wasn’t shy about going up to them and trying to befriend them and find out what I could about playing the blues. By and large, they were very accommodating. Big Joe Williams invited me to his hotel and we wound up playing guitar together.”

Taking what he learned from these blues guitar greats, Pat Donohue has gone on to make a name for himself, releasing many albums and instructional videos. He also has joined a legendary list of notables, getting his own signature guitar model made by Martin Guitars.

About Butch Thompson

In a career spanning over 40 years, pianist and clarinetist Butch Thompson has earned an international reputation as a traditional jazz and ragtime master. He has toured extensively, playing with the world’s major orchestras and with his own acclaimed ensembles, which include the Butch Thompson Trio, the eight-piece Jazz Originals band, the Butch Thompson Big Three and his unique chamber music duo with cellist Laura Sewell.

Born and raised in Marine-on-St. Croix, a small Minnesota river town, Butch got his start at age three, playing his mother’s upright piano. In high school, he went on to study clarinet and led his first professional jazz group. After he graduated, he joined the Hall Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band of Minneapolis and at age 18 became one of the few non-New Orleans natives to perform at the famed Preservation Hall in the 60s and 70s.

In 1974, Butch played on the first broadcasts of the national radio show A Prairie Home Companion, and by the time it was syndicated in 1980, the Butch Thompson Trio was the house band, a position the group held for the next six years. Since then Butch has become widely known as a leading authority on jazz. He served as a development consultant on the 1992 Broadway hit Jelly’s Last Jam, which starred Gregory Hines. He also joined the touring company of the off-Broadway show Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man, playing several runs with the show in New York and with its touring company through 1997.

As one of the most sought-after jazz and blues musicians, he has performed on many recordings, including the Grammy-winning Verve release Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton. He has also released 27 albums of his own, including his acclaimed 10-volume solo series and his highly anticipated new recording with Pat Donohue called Vicksburg Blues.

Butch Thompson also hosts a radio show called “Jazz Originals” that airs on Jazz88 FM in Minneapolis.