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Darling Companion

Garrison Keillor’s legendary traveling broadcast A Prairie Home Companion makes a stop in Atlanta on May 17. Longtime sound effects guy and Georgia native Fred Newman answers five questions and gives us the scoop on the show he’s worked on for decades.

Ga.-native Fred Newman of A Prairie Home Companion

1. How often do you play Atlanta?
Now, information from the sound effects-actor guy is not known for being highly accurate, but it feels like this will be our third time at The Fox, on top of one raucous free-for-all of a performance [we did] at Chastain Park Amphitheater. 

2. At the show in 2012 you had so many great Atlanta references. Does Garrison ask you for insider info?

Garrison has a knack for putting his finger on the pulse of wherever we go. He’s such a keen observer of
detail, and picks up on local nuances. We do have a researcher who travels ahead and pads the streets to talk with people. As for me, I grew up dreaming about Atlanta. It was the great dazzling diamond a couple of hours away.

3. Yes! You’re from LaGrange, Ga. Do you ever take the cast to your favorite spots?
Because we’re so show-focused when we get there Friday afternoon before the Saturday show, we don’t get a chance to carouse
much. Of course, I tell them about
The Varsity.

4. The show has been around since the ’70s. How do you keep it fresh every week?
A Prairie Home still issues forth from the head of Zeus.
 Garrison is restless and prolific and drives the show. He does not coast.
 He keeps the sketches all very relevant.

5. PHC fans are insatiable. Have you ever had a funny run in with a Georgia fan?
Fans of the show are true listeners—a subset of a subset of NPR listeners who love storytelling and metaphor and are willing to be taken on an audio journey. The fans who are attracted to the SFX guy are deeply odd people—no joke. Those are my peeps and I love that. You’ve heard of a rodeo clown? Well, I’m a radio clown. I’m also about the luckiest guy in show business.

The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE, 404.881.2100