This month brought the unfortunate news that Live From Here, hosted by Chris Thile, has been cancelled.
The American Public Media-produced radio show, previously known as A Prairie Home Companion, has been beloved by listeners since its inception in 1974, and continued in 2016 when the series was rebranded as Live From Here, with Thile leading the way.
The show was cut from production as a result of COVID-19’s widespread impact on the music and entertainment industries. On his socials, Thile graciously acknowledged the decision, stating the purpose of Live From Here as “a celebration of live, collaborative audible art.”
So, without further hesitation, let’s look at 11 of our favorite Live From Here moments.
“Dean Town” – Vulfpeck & Chris ThilePerhaps one of the most loved Live From Here moments was Thile’s guest performance with Vulfpeck on their classic, “Dean Town.” One has every reason to assume that eye contact between Thile and Joe Dart is still going strong at this very moment.
“Fiddle Sticks” — Billy ContrerasIt may be one of the lesser-viewed bits from the show, but this “Fast-AF” fiddle tune feature by Billy Contreras is certainly not short on notes. Two and a half minutes of pure double stops and bass walks.
“Lovesick Blues” — Brandi Carlile, Ben Folds, Chris Thile, & Sarah JaroszEver wondered if Brandi Carlile could yodel on par with Jimmie Rodgers — or everyone’s favorite Walmart yodeling kid, Mason Ramsey? Well, look no further than this early Live From Here collaboration with Carlile, Thile, Ben Folds, and Sarah Jarosz.
“Change” – Mavis Staples“Say it loud, say it clear!” We’ve shared this powerful performance from the legendary Mavis Staples before, but it is even more relevant now. Things are starting to change around here!
“Toy Heart / Marry Me / Jerusalem” – I’m With HerAlmost 10 minutes of mind blowing harmony and togetherness from I’m With Her, all beloved guests throughout the show’s course. As Thile so happily declares at the end, “There’s not a better band — in the world — than I’m With Her.”
“In Da Club” / Musician Birthdays – Julian Lage, O’Donovan, Thile, and MoreWhat could be better than the composer of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” jamming with Chris Thile, or Julian Lage playing Django Reinhardt? Oh that’s right: it’s Aoife O’Donovan singing Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.”
“Blue Skies” – Andrew Bird & Chris ThileNot only does this pair look quite the same, but their playing together is divine, and one of the last Live From Here moments we were graced with before shutdown.
“Kodachrome” – Paul SimonThis one’ll make you think all the world is a sunny day. Just look at Thile’s face!
“Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)” – Rachael PriceThe tonal map of this moment is pure magic. Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price supported by Thile’s harmony, Mike Elizondo’s bass lines, Brittany Haas’s fiddle playing — need we say more?
“Winter Boy” – Amanda BrownSince Thile’s takeover as host, Live From Here has always had a strong female vocalist on stage. From Aoife O’Donovan to Sarah Jarosz to Gaby Moreno to more recent guest Amanda Brown — these women have been an integral part of the show’s cast and performance. Enjoy Brown’s beautiful take on this Buffy Sainte-Marie classic.
“Hard Times” – Chris ThileIt only seems right to acknowledge the many efforts of the Live From Here cast and crew to bring listeners the show, recast as “Live From Home,” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and global shutdown. For the last three months, those at the show worked tirelessly to bring us the weekly program, with the help of dozens of musicians, show regulars, and the #LiveFromHome social media campaign.
All we have left to say is — thank you to Chris Thile, all of the musicians, crew, and those who made Live From Here possible. And we hope these “Hard Times” we’re all living in together come again no more.
Photo credit: Nate Ryan