From the Archives – November 1997

One of our favorite groups, The Fairfield Four, was appearing on A Prairie Home Companion on the first weekend of November 1997. We bought tickets as a group, and went to the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul and watched them.

After the show, we walked to the backstage door, and asked if we could meet them. The guard wouldn’t allow that, but he did let us sing in the stairwell outside the door. We hoped they would hear us and come running to see who was so beautifully recreating their music outside.

They didn’t come to the door, but one of the show’s producers did, and she told us the group was sitting on stage, waiting for their ride to the airport. We went running back in and down to the lip of the stage. A woman stood by the piano (who turned out to be Kate McKenzie [!]), and we asked her to plunk a ‘D’ so we could get a starting pitch.

We sang “Last Month of the Year” right there, and a two of the Fairfield Four came over and listened politely and shook our hands. Garrison Keillor was greeting fans off to the side, and he too came over to say hello. We introduced ourselves, and left, giddy with how fun it had been meeting both our gospel idols and Garrison.

The next Friday, I was sitting at home, minding my own business when the phone rang. It was the same producer from the stairwell, and she asked if we were available the next day from 2:00 to 7:00 to come onto A Prairie Home Companion and sing something. I thought about it for exactly a half second and said yes. Fortunately, none of our members are deer hunters or that timing may not have worked!

We all put on our matching green shirts and went, guitar in hand, ready to sing. The producer panicked a bit when she saw the guitar, exclaiming she was only prepared for an a capella performance. Fortunately, most of what we sang at the time was a capella, so we switched gears and prepared to sing “Walk Them Golden Stairs”, a song we’d gotten from Elvis.

The CL7, backstage with Garrison Keillor
The CL7, backstage with Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor gave us a very nice introduction during the show, relating the story of how we’d sung for the Fairfield Four the previous week, and asked Greg “So do you sing this type of music at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian?” When Greg replied “Yes we do”, Garrison responded, saying “The Presbyterians have sparked up quite a bit since coming over from Scotland!” We sang our song, and the crowd, as they say, went wild.