published Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Garrison Keillor brings his home-spun humor to Chattanooga


by Andrew Pantazi
  • photo
    Sara Watkins reacts as Garrison Keillor tells a story during Saturday night's performance of A Prairie Home Companion at the Memorial Auditorium.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

Ever Flanigan has been listening to “A Prairie Home Companion” for years, so he says he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see storyteller Garrison Keillor live at Memorial Auditorium on Saturday.

Flanigan, 44, who listens to the public radio show weekly with his 14-year-old son, Jamie, said that he initially started tuning in because before cable television it was the most entertainment he could get.

“I’m a little nostalgic,” he said. “I like to listen and use my imagination, and I’m glad my son is doing the same.”

Keillor opened the show, as he always does, by singing “Tishomingo Blues.” As he began singing, a couple stood from their seats and danced in the aisle to the left of the stage.

He followed the song, as he does in most towns he visits, with one about the city he was in. This time he was singing that Bessie Smith owed her success as a blues singer to the miserable childhood she had in Chattanooga.

“It’s so beautiful to be heading for Atlanta or Nashville and en route you come across the city famous for the Choo Choo,” he sang.

Throughout the Summer Love 2011 show, 69-year-old Keillor told stories of the fictional Minnesota town Lake Wobegon and sang duets with Sara Watkins, formerly of the band Nickel Creek, focused on a theme of love and passion.

“Summer love, two of the most beautiful words in the English language,” he said, later adding, “Life is short. Summer is brief. You have to grasp it while you can.”

Lance Helms, who was given tickets to the show as a gift for his 41st birthday, came from Atlanta to see Keillor.

He said he’s going to ask for Keillor’s books for Christmas.

Marty Massengale said he bought tickets for the show because of its humor.

The show’s theme was the ecstasy and tragedy of love.

“Thanks to the unhappiness of [William Shakespeare’s] marriage,” Keillor said to laughter, “we have the plays, we have those love sonnets, none of which were written to her.”

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about Andrew Pantazi...

Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...

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LibDem said...

A great performance!

September 11, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
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