He has made a life with his voice, and he loves keeping storytelling as vibrant on stage as he did for decades on public radio.
Garrison Keillor, creator and host emeritus of “The Prairie Home Companion,” will return to the Calvin Gilmore Theater in Myrtle Beach, at 6 p.m. Sunday, his second visit here since 2015.
Hear Keillor’s legacy weekly two-hour radio show, with Chris Thile as host since autumn (www.prairiehome.org), at 6 p.m. Saturdays and noon Sundays on WHMC-FM 90.1 from Conway and on SiriusXM Satellite Radio; and 6 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. Sundays on WSCI-FM 89.3 from Charleston.
Also an author of such books as “Wobegon Days,” “Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance,’ and “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny,” Keillor squeezed in fielding some questions by email as he played a different theater nightly this week across New York, Vermont and Massachusetts, before heading South.
Q: When did you first hear the term “Midwestern values,” and what has that designation grown to mean to you, all these years? (The phrase was first expressed to this native Clevelander upon meeting Walter Parazaider, a co-founder of, and the woodwinds player in, the group Chicago, after a concert in Michigan.)
A: I never understood the term. It’s one country, believe it or not, and we in St. Paul, Minn., have a great deal in common with New Yorkers, South Carolinians, and so forth. The phrase just sounds snooty to me and Midwesterners detest arrogance. I grew up in a devout evangelical family, and we had a separate set of values (or tried to) from our neighbors, but we were not supposed to lord it over them or look down on them just because they drank beer and smoked and played poker. And they took the Lord’s name in vain.
To this day, swearing strikes me as strange and discordant, and the vulgarity that young people seem to accept in ordinary speech – it offends me, but I don’t say anything. Anyway, the basic values are kindness, decency, gratitude, and “Do Your Job.” That’s true from coast to coast.
Q: How does a show on stage require a different energy and stamina than coordinating the presentation on live radio?
A: The radio show was a circus with a band, actors, backstage crew, sound guys, and so forth, and the show I do on stage is just me, a microphone, and a stool. It’s scary and it’s wonderful, to walk out and face strangers in the dark and do a couple hours. I always start by getting them to sing “America,” and then we go on from there, jumping from rock to rock.
Q: With “A Prairie Home Companion” having surpassed the 40-year mark, how does the torch remain lit and as strong as ever, for your successor, Chris Thile – and others, with other shows – to forge ahead with live radio, as an honor to yesteryear when entertainment might have seemed so much simpler, but was embraced and seen as just as enriching and full back then as anything today? (Never mind what Frasier Crane – Kelsey Grammer – attempted with “Nightmare Inn” on the “Ham Radio” episode in 1997, during the fourth season of “Frasier” ...)
A: I handed the show off to Chris, and he’s taken it and run with it. It’s more a music show now, which is fine, and it’s bringing all sorts of younger artists to the fore whom I never heard of. It’s a natural transition. What I loved about the show is still true: It’s a variety of things, and it’s live. Really live. They’re doing it as you’re listening. This sets it apart from just about everything else.
Q: For “companionship” when you’re at home or rest, whose voices and music sound the most pleasing to your ears and heart the most?
A: I drove through a snowstorm on Sunday, listening to the DiGiallonardo Sisters’ CD for six hours, over and over, and I liked that, especially because I could add a bass harmony to it. I don’t listen to the radio or CDs. I’m a writer now, and I work in silence. When I want music, I go out to a concert or the opera or a club and hear it in a room.
I walk around town and see these people with headphones clamped on their heads and the idea is so alien to me. Why would you shut yourself off that way? Maybe some of them are listening to my show – I don’t know. A writer needs to lives in his own head.
Q: What remains on your dream list of locales to bring a theater tour stop?
A: I want to tour Britain again, especially Yorkshire and Scotland, where my people came from. I did a tour years ago of Germany and would love to go back. I have a long, long, long story about a pontoon boat and a wedding and a funeral that I think audiences would like.
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.
If you go
WHO: Garrison Keillor
WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Calvin Gilmore Theatre, 8901 N. Kings Highway (U.S. 17 Business), at junction of U.S. 17, on northern tip of Myrtle Beach – home of “The Carolina Opry,” “Time Warp,” and “Thunder and Light” with All That!
HOW MUCH: $59.13 or $64.50 ($31.18 child in both of these levels), or $69.88.
OTHER GUEST CONCERTS: Each at 6 p.m., for various prices – Wynonna & the Big Noise, on March 12; Charlie Daniels Band, March 26; and Gaither Vocal Band, Oct. 15