The Gratitude Tour — Bemidji, MN

Monday, April 24, 2017
7:00 p.m. CT

A live performance at Bemidji State University’s Beaux Arts Ballroom in Bemidji, MN

Tickets: $25, $10 for staff, students get in free

Buy tickets online →
By phone: 218-755-3760
In-Person: Hobson Memorial Union, Information Desk, 1420 Birchmont Dr. NE

Mr. Keillor has now reached a certain age when you realize how lucky you are and you stop complaining. Complaint is a mainstay of comedy, so he is now experimenting with a comedy of gratitude, talking about parents, teachers, lucky breaks, dumb things that turned out smart. This is his first experimental tour.

- RADIO -

"Cinecast Coffee Script"

Civilization is a thin veneer when the supply of coffee gets low...

Featuring our cast actors, Jearlyn Steele on vocals, and Elvis Costello as a coffeeshop villain.

Watch the video here... >>

- Mr. Blue -

"Seeking Submissions"

Do you have any life problems you need sorted out? GK has reprised his role as the gentle yet no-nonsense advice columnist Mr. Blue.

Click here to write in!... >>

- Featured APHC episode -

"May 15, 2004"

Live from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN: jazz singer Inga Swearingen and gospel vocalist Jearlyn Steele perform, and alternative-country band BR549 returns.
 ...

- PRESS -

"Follow Garrison on Facebook!"

Featuring links to video performances, literary trivia, updates on new projects, and more.

Follow here ... >>

Garrison Keillor

Advice from Mr. Blue

"Dating in middle age, choosing a publisher, and making yourself heard"

Dear Mr. Blue, I am a corporate speechwriter and a copywriter. I am 55.5 and would like to meet the right man who enjoys words. I placed a personal ad but got a response from a man in Federal Prison. It seemed intrusive to ask how he landed himself there, so I didn't respond. I've got many friends and I'm perfectly okay-looking. What should…>>


Weekly column

Someone to sit next to me

There was so much good news last week. Gorillas appear to be thriving, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, and there are about 361,919 of them, twice as many as had been believed. Humpback whales, who were nearly hunted out of existence in the 19thcentury, are making a comeback in the seas off Antarctica: the birth rate is on the upswing, according to a new study. (The animals are the size of a school bus and have a life expectancy similar to ours.) And a study at the University of Michigan shows that people who work out even 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who don’t.

This is science, people. This isn’t fake news. These conclusions are based on actual facts established through observation by people who can count. What I learn from this is that it brightens your day to skip the front-page stuff about Washington and focus on science. Someday I expect to find a study showing that 75-year-old men who rode school buses as children have a longer life expectancy. That’s me.

I rode a school bus for six years, 12 miles each way morning and afternoon, on a highway in Minnesota, cornfields to the west, the Mississippi to the east. I stood at the end of a gravel road, a gawky kid with wire-rim glasses, wearing second-hand clothes, knowing there would not be an empty seat because mine was the last stop. The bus pulled up, the door opened, I climbed aboard, and the driver waited until I sat down before he started the bus. Nobody squeezed together to make room so I had to pick out a seat with skinny girls in it and hurl myself at them and hold on for dear life as they tried to shove me out when the bus went around a sharp curve. This is a fact.

I had emotional problems in my youth — who didn’t? — and a religious crisis and a search for identity, all of that — but the struggle for seating on the bus was my No. 1 problem. My mother had five other children so I didn’t bother her with this. The school had no grief counselors that I could discuss it with. I had to pull up my socks and fight for a few inches of seat, enough for one cheek, and hang on with all my might.

Now you know why I avoid public transportation. And when I fly, if I’m upgraded to First Class, my heart sings.

Six years of classmates resisting my physical presence had a big effect on me. I learned to not be put off by rejection, that all you need is one acceptance. Somewhere on the school bus of life is one beautiful person who will move over and make room for you. That is all you need.

The fellow passenger who has made room for me all these years happens to be a professional musician, trained to read tiny insect tracks on a page and perform as indicated while a man with wild hair waves a stick in the air. She is no slacker, in other words. She has run a marathon, given birth to a child, hiked alone through foreign landscapes, lived close to the poverty line in New York City, and recently read Anna Karenina. She tends the plants in the yard and knows their names. She is well-versed on social convention and has sound opinions about music, books, and design. She is more than capable.

It’s a comedy routine when she’s around and a lovely system of checks and balances. I say, “Let’s put a ping-pong table in the living room” and she says, “I’d rather we didn’t” and so we don’t.

She says, “You’re not wearing that tie with that shirt, are you?” “Not anymore,” I say. She points discreetly at her left nostril and hands me a tissue. She reminds me of the name of that woman with the glasses (Liz) whom I ought to know — I told my wife, “Her and me went to school together” so that she’d have the satisfaction of saying, “She and I went to school together.” “No,” I said, “You’re 15 years younger; you didn’t go to school with Liz and me.”

The loner with the guitar is the American hero, but I love a member of the orchestra, and try to submerge my individuality into a good marriage. The secret of civility is synchronicity. The gorillas and whales know that and now I think I do too.

Last week's column

What’s been going on around here lately

The Swedish Academy’s decision to not award the Nobel Prize in Literature this spring hit me hard, of course. I figured this would be my year and was counting on the cash prize of a cool million bucks. A man needs a little boost now and then. I know I do. People associate me with radio but I was also a Novelist — okay? Novels. With characters and dialogue. Lonely guys looking out rain-spattered windows at bare trees and wondering, “Who am I anyway?”

I did some of that last Saturday morning. I am married to a perfectionist, and so my faults are more clear to me than necessary. I am 75 years old, people. How many men of 75 are actively engaged in self-improvement? Are there rehab programs for us? Inspirational books aimed at us? No.

I was looking out a rain-spattered window, thinking long thoughts, when a wild turkey strolled into our backyard and onto the terrace as if he owned the place. My love and I live in the middle of a big city, but on the steep wooded slope behind us, raccoons live, and a fox, and wild turkeys who roost in the trees and grow very large because we’re all liberals around here and nobody has a shotgun to shoot them with.

The turkey stood preening himself ten feet away from me, unconcerned about trespassing, and it made me think about freedom, which I experienced for a few years in my childhood. We lived in the country where a boy could disappear into the woods and run around without adult supervision for most of the day. Believe it or not, we had no pagers or cellphones on us to allow our parents to keep close tabs. Kidnappers could’ve descended and taken us away, bound and gagged, in souped-up roadsters and demanded a ransom of a million in nonconsecutive bills. They didn’t because our parents didn’t have the dough. And my parents had other children. Spares. So we were safe, tearing around shooting cap pistols, waving our cowboy hats, and re-enacting white racist violence against native peoples in a way children would not be allowed to do today. When I see a pickup truck with NRA and Confederate flag bumper stickers on it, I see myself when I was eight. Been there.

And in this moment of reverie, my true love said to me, “You really need to do something about your desk.”

I don’t run a perfectionist desk. Like our president, I believe in the creative power of chaos. I thrive on confusion. And my wife is sort of the Washington Post in my life. I come out with a big pronouncement and she says, “But yesterday you told me —” etc.

Marriage to a perfectionist offers many benefits, don’t get me wrong. The kitchen is tidy, the rugs harmonize with the furniture, tools and other necessities are well organized so you don’t run around looking for toilet paper and find it stashed in the china closet.

On the other hand, there are moments when I realize I’m being observed as I perform some simple task such as pouring water out of a boot — she is watching to make sure I do it correctly. She goes through my wastebasket and extracts tiny recyclable things and shows them to me. She has carried on a long-running campaign to get me to take a daily walk at a brisk pace and thereby live longer so she can go on perfecting me into my eighties and nineties.

What I need at this point is a big burst of self-esteem and so I imagined the phone ringing and a Swede announcing that I — me — yours truly — not Philip Roth, not some unknown Lithuanian poet — had won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

And I would walk into the kitchen where the love of my life is standing by the refrigerator, and she’d say, “You left a full carton of milk sitting out on the counter and I don’t know how long it’s been sitting here, do you?” And I’d say, “We’re going to Stockholm this fall. We’ll fly first class. We need to buy some dress-up clothes. I won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Babe.”

This column is a mess and I know it. Very poorly organized. But if I were a Nobel laureate, you’d think it were a work of genius. You wouldn’t think, “Should that be ‘were’ or should it be ‘was?’” You’d think, “He won the Nobel, it must be ‘were.’” And so it is.

A series of poems read by Garrison

News
TWA & APHC Archives Open to Public

TWA & APHC Archives Open to Public

Archives for the Writer’s Almanac have returned to the web. 

Read More
New Garrison Keillor Online Shop!

New Garrison Keillor Online Shop!

Pretty Good Goods junkies rejoice: there is a new one-stop merchandise shop for all your needs related to Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion, and The Writer’s Alamanac. Products include the complete final performance of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” live at the Hollywood Bowl on July 1, 2016 and collected on a set […]

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The Forum at Grace Cathedral, September 2017

The Forum at Grace Cathedral, September 2017

The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young of the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, CA, sits down with Garrison Keillor for an in-depth conversation as part of the Cathedral’s program The Forum on September 17, 2017.

Read More
Minnesota Public Radio, Garrison Keillor Settle All Outstanding Issues

Minnesota Public Radio, Garrison Keillor Settle All Outstanding Issues

St. Paul, MN – Garrison Keillor and Minnesota Public Radio have reached an agreement reopening public access to thousands of past shows of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac.

“MPR wants fans of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac to have free access to the thousands of wonderful performers and artists, musicians and poets whose work is included in those archives, and we want your fans to have free access to the decades of terrific material you created,” MPR President Jon McTaggart wrote in a letter to Keillor on April 5. A full copy of the letter is available at www.garrisonkeillor.com.

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Letter from Jon McTaggart to Garrison Keillor

Letter from Jon McTaggart to Garrison Keillor

Dear Garrison,

I could never have imagined the surprising circumstances you and I’ve been in for the past few months. But here we are, and I’m hoping this personal appeal can help to move us forward.

Read More

A Prairie Home Companion 40th Anniversary: Let’s Have a Party

A Prairie Home Companion returns to the Macalester campus for an anniversary celebration with three days of music, comedy, food, and festivities, July 4-6th.

Read More

The Daily Circuit — O, What a Luxury

Garrison talks poetry and O, What a Luxury with MPR’s Kerri Miller

Read More

Poems of Gratitude: The Fourth Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest

Garrison and Common Good Books are sponsoring a poetry contest! Pour your love onto the page, shape it well, and mail your love letter to Common Good Books before April 15 — fame and fortune could be yours.

Read More
AP: Keillor to celebrate 40 years on Lake Wobegon

AP: Keillor to celebrate 40 years on Lake Wobegon

Garrison discusses the 40th anniversary of A Prairie Home Companion in an interview with the Associated Press

Read More
CBS Sunday Morning — Garrison Keillor signs off — June 26, 2016

CBS Sunday Morning — Garrison Keillor signs off — June 26, 2016

A profile of Garrison as he prepares to retire from A Prairie Home Companion

Read More
Writing

Someone to sit next to me

There was so much good news last week. Gorillas appear to be thriving, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, and there are about 361,919 of them, twice as many as had been believed. Humpback whales, who were nearly hunted out of existence in the 19th century, are making a comeback in the seas off Antarctica: the birth rate is on the upswing, according to a new study. (The animals are the size of a school bus and have a life expectancy similar to ours.) And a study at the University of Michigan shows that people who work out even 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who don’t.

Read More
May 15, 2004

May 15, 2004

Live from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN: jazz singer Inga Swearingen and gospel vocalist Jearlyn Steele perform, and the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band welcomes Peter Ostroushko, Cindy Cashdollar, and Andy Stein. All this, plus the return of alternative-country band BR549.

 

Read More
Dating in middle age, choosing a publisher, and making yourself heard

Dating in middle age, choosing a publisher, and making yourself heard

Dear Mr. Blue,

I am a corporate speechwriter and a copywriter. I am 55.5 and would like to meet the right man who enjoys words. I placed a personal ad but got a response from a man in Federal Prison. It seemed intrusive to ask how he landed himself there, so I didn’t respond. I’ve got many friends and I’m perfectly okay-looking. What should I be doing? Taking trips? Moving to another country with a shortage of middle-aged women? Making a systematic request to my entire list of acquaintances to ask them to produce one person? What would you do? I am about to give up.  

-Exhausted by Love

Read More

What’s been going on around here lately

The Swedish Academy’s decision to not award the Nobel Prize in Literature this spring hit me hard, of course. I figured this would be my year and was counting on the cash prize of a cool million bucks. A man needs a little boost now and then. I know I do. People associate me with radio but I was also a Novelist — okay? Novels. With characters and dialogue. Lonely guys looking out rain-spattered windows at bare trees and wondering, “Who am I anyway?”

I did some of that last Saturday morning. I am married to a perfectionist, and so my faults are more clear to me than necessary. I am 75 years old, people. How many men of 75 are actively engaged in self-improvement? Are there rehab programs for us? Inspirational books aimed at us? No.

Read More

Forgot password? Try “LIFEISGOOD42J75#REAL”

It’s spring in Minnesota finally. My lawn is greenish, birds sing in the morning, we go walking in a sweater, no gloves. There is still ice on the lakes, but if you don’t look at them, you don’t notice. Life is good. This is not pointed out often enough, the goodness of life, because journalists know that Pulitzer Prizes are awarded for exposing corruption and sending the mayor to jail for skimming money off the School Milk Fund so the kiddos get 2% rather than whole milk, it’s not given for writing about a walk in the park on a sunny day. Nonetheless, we do have parks and the sun does shine.

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A runaway lover, text problems, and dinner duties

A runaway lover, text problems, and dinner duties

Dear Mr. Blue,

I’m a single 51-year-old who’s been enjoying the outdoorsy life in Denver for the past fifteen years. I have a nice condo, good friends, a great job in the tech industry. Up until a month ago I thought I had the ideal life—and then my lover of eight years left me for another woman. He said he’d met her through friends and that they’d “clicked” in some magical way he’d never felt before. After he told me, he still slept at my condo that night (albeit in the guest room), and then he was gone the next morning.

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A winning candidate for 2020

Finally we see some spring in Minnesota, temperatures edging into the 50s, maybe 60s, snow gone except in the crevices, green grass, the miracle of going outdoors in shirtsleeves. It’s like the Rapture except that everyone gets to enjoy it, not just the select few. We who were brought up not to complain have been moaning for a month, and we feel bad about that and intend to atone for it by being good to people who have not been nice to us, if we can think of any.

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Exes, etiquette, and losing a spark

Exes, etiquette, and losing a spark

Dear Mr. Blue,

I can’t get over my ex. We dated a few years ago and when we broke up, even though it was mutual, I was devastated. At 22 years old, it was my first time being in love, and my first time being heartbroken. The relationship itself had been turbulent: he was a night owl and an alcoholic while I found solace in routine and generally healthy habits—except for the part where I would drop everything to be with him, at any time. Still, we found common ground in our worldviews, artistic sensibilities, and appreciation for the finer things in life, such as good food and luxurious hours spent in bed. He was very sweet and attentive when he wasn’t arguing with me about how long to stay at the bar. We started dating again about a year later, magnetically drawn to one another once again despite my better instincts, but I eventually dumped him over our conflicting lifestyles.

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The true story of last weekend’s blizzard

A yuge blizzard descended on Minnesota over the weekend and all of our people who went south for the winter got back home in time to experience it. It was truly yuge, a fabulous blizzard and the snow was up to the housetops and the highway patrol said, “Stay in your homes. Do not drive on account of rabid wolves and jackals running loose.” But some of us went out anyway because that’s how we are. America was not settled by the timid.

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A walk down the aisle

There is a long aisle at our grocery store with soda pop at one end and tea and coffee at the other, which my love and I get to after the butter and eggs and 2% milk. We come to the beverage aisle and she selects the coffee, dark ground, with names like Swan Lake and Machiavelli. I notice the can of Maxwell House percolator grind and think of Mother and Dad. And there between the coffee and the soda pop is an extensive collection of waters.

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Radio

Cinecast Oh Glory How Happy I Am

An all-star cast performs “Oh Glory How Happy I Am,” written by the Reverend Gary Davis. Featuring Pat Donohue, Robin & Linda Williams, Garrison Keillor, Heather Masse, Jearlyn Steele, Jevetta Steele, and the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band as led by Richard Dworsky. This was the last song on the February 4, 2010 cinecast episode of A Prairie Home Companion, and doubles as a credits reel for the DVD.

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Cinecast Calling My Children Home

Garrison Keillor, Heather Masse, Robin and Linda Williams perform the traditional song “Calling My Children Home,” accompanied by Richard Dworsky on piano. From the February 4, 2010 cinecast episode of A Prairie Home Companion, which was recorded at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN, and broadcast live into movie theaters.

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Cinecast Too Gone

“It’s too late, and it’s too bad, she’s too gone.” Mr. Pat Donohue plays a tune of his called “Too Gone,” with accompaniment by the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band, Heather Masse, Garrison Keillor. From the February 4, 2010 cinecast episode of A Prairie Home Companion, which was recorded at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN, and broadcast live into movie theaters.

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Cinecast Lives of the Cowboys

“Brought to you by Buffalo Bill’s skin moisturizer. It smells just like whiskey, so nobody will ever know!” From the 2010 cinecast episode of A Prairie Home Companion, which was recorded at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN, and broadcast live into movie theaters. This Dusty & Lefty script features our cast actors, Fred Newman and Tom Keith on SFX, Erica Rhodes, Heather Masse, Elvis Costello, and Garrison Keillor as the cowboy hero Jack Trueblood, a lonely man with a mysterious past.

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Cinecast Back in the Day

“Back in the day, my little daughter, we didn’t pay for a bottle of water.” From the 2010 cinecast episode of A Prairie Home Companion, which was recorded at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN, and broadcast live into movie theaters. Backed by the Guy’s All-Star Show Band, Garrison sings a song for his little girl about what life was like back in the day.

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Cinecast Coffee Script

“Civilization is a thin veneer when the supply of coffee gets low.” From the 2010 cinecast episode of A Prairie Home Companion, which was recorded at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN, and broadcast live into movie theaters. This coffee script features Jearlyn Steele on vocals, Fred Newman on SFX, Tim Russell and Sue Scott in their acting roles, and Elvis Costello as a coffeeshop villain.

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John Clare – The Sweetest Woman There (excerpt)

I loved her lip her cheek her eye She cheered my midnight gloom
A bonny rose ‘neath God’s own sky In one perrenial bloom
She lives ‘mid pastures evergreen And meadows ever fair
Each winter spring and summer scene The sweetest woman there

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Walt Whitman – I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ

I heard you solemn-sweet pipes of the organ as last Sunday morn
     I pass’d the church,
Winds of autumn, as I walk’d the woods at dusk I heard your
     long-stretch’d sighs up above so mournful,
I heard the perfect Italian tenor singing at the opera, I heard the
     soprano in the midst of the quartet singing;
Heart of my love! you too I heard murmuring low through one
     of the wrists around my head,
Heard the pulse of you when all was still ringing little bells last
     night under my ear.

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Lewis Carroll – The Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

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I Think of You – 7/2/2016

I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan) sing Utah Phillips’ “I Think of You” during our July 2, 2016 broadcast from the Hollywood Bowl.

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