‘Chat­tanooga’ and ‘Arugula’ won’t make a lim­er­ick

These and other pithy thoughts spring from Gar­ri­son Keil­lor, whose ‘Prairie Home Love & Com­edy Tour’ stops Satur­day at the Tivoli

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - OUT & ABOUT - STAFF RE­PORT

For 42 years, Gar­ri­son Keil­lor hosted the pop­u­lar ra­dio va­ri­ety show “A Prairie Home Com­pan­ion.”

Even though he re­tired his weekly up­dates last year, Keil­lor hasn’t left Lake Wobe­gon per­ma­nently. He’s cur­rently on his “Prairie Home Love & Com­edy Tour” — twoplus hours of sto­ries, love duets, Guy Noir, cow­boys, po­etic out­bursts and his fa­mous Singing In­ter­mis­sion, in which “the able- bod­ied stand and sing around the camp­fire.”

Keil­lor’s tour stops at the Tivoli Theatre on Satur­day night, Sept. 9. He’ll be joined by Heather Masse, sound- ef­fects ge­nius Fred New­man, Richard Dworsky and the Road Hounds.

The 75- year- old was re­cently in­ter­viewed by Michael Ed­ward Miller, WUTC ra­dio host of “Around and About Chat­tanooga.” Fol­low­ing are ex­cerpts from that in­ter­view in which Keil­lor pre­viewed his show at the Tivoli, reprinted with per­mis­sion from UTC.

Miller: So you’re com­ing to Chat­tanooga with the live show. You’ve re­tired from ac­tu­ally host­ing the show on t he ra­dio, but you’ve been keep­ing busy with writ­ing screen­plays, a mem­oir. Why do you want to tour as well?

Keil­lor: I ’ ve been writ­ing now for about a year since the last Prairie Home show at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl, and it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a child, sit­ting at a desk in dim light and with a lap­top, work­ing on a screen­play and a mem­oir, a weekly column and so forth. But you sit alone and you write and re­write and you start to miss stand­ing on a stage in front of a crowd … I’m go­ing to do the news from Lake Wobe­gon and Fred New­man, our sound- ef­fects man, will be there, so we’ll do the lives of the cow­boys, Dusty and Lefty, and do some kind of sur­re­al­is­tic im­prov.

Rich Dworksy is at the pi­ano, so we’ll do a bunch of things and we will also walk into the au­di­ence. The au­di­ence and I will sing “My Coun­try ‘Tis of Thee” and “Bat­tle Hymn of t he Repub­lic” and “Shenan­doah” and “Swing Low, Sweet Char­iot” and a bunch of other songs that we all know.

Miller: It seems like your live show, when you’re not wor­ry­ing about be­ing broad­cast and don’t have to worry about FCC reg­u­la­tions, can be a bit more un­in­hib­ited than the ra­dio show was.

Keil­lor: I grew up with re­stric­tions that were much more strin­gent than the FCC’s, so I don’t re­ally need the FCC to tell me what not to say. I have been not say­ing it since I was a child. But there is a free­dom of im­pro­vi­sa­tion, you’re right, and I hope the au­di­ence en­joys it. But whether they do or not, I re­ally en­joy it. We didn’t do that much of it on the ra­dio show be­cause you know, there are other peo­ple in­volved and you don’t want to throw them off their stride.

Miller: I’m not sure how long ago it was, but I saw you once when you were here live and you led the au­di­ence in singing “The Chat­tanooga Choo- Choo.”

Keil­lor: Well, I know a lit­tle bit of “The Chat­tanooga Choo-Choo,” but not as much as I should. I should book up on that be­fore I come. Is that still pop­u­lar in Chat­tanooga?

Miller: I be­lieve (the song) turned 75 … the 75th an­niver­sary of it be­com­ing the world’s first gold record.

Keil­lor: I’m 75 my­self so I ad­mire that. I once tried to write a lim­er­ick on Chat­tanooga, and it’s not the eas­i­est name to rhyme. I tried to work in arugula and the ooga, ooga of the Model T Ford horn, and it was not a great lim­er­ick. I should try this again.

PRAIRIE HOME COM­PAN­ION PHOTO

Gar­ri­son Keil­lor

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