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New signs that Garrison Keillor may retire next season

Garrison Keillor took some serious steps forward Monday in proving that talks of his upcoming retirement aren't just tall tales out of Lake Wobegon.

The "Prairie Home Companion" host has said little to the press since an article in the Berkshire Eagle (Mass.) newspaper reported that the legendary broadcaster would fade out sometime next year with mandolin player Chris Thile taking his place.

Those who have followed Keillor over the years have learned to take his mumblings about hanging up his red sneakers with a tablespoon of salt since the public-radio host has inevitably either returned or stayed behind the microphone.

But in an e-mail to the Star Tribune Monday, Keillor indicated that,this time, he means it.

"Really, it's no big deal.I'm getting old.It's an old story," wrote Keillor who turns 73 in August. "We last longer in radio because you can't see the bags under our eyes."

It's not that Keillor's popularity is waning.His 4th of July show on the lawns of Macalester College drew over 3,500 fans.

"On Saturday,I sang, 'Wouldn't It Be Nice,' the Beach Boys song, and thoroughly screwed up the bridge," Keillor said. "Not a good sign."

As telling as Keillor's e-mail might be,the recently released "Prairie" schedule for the 2015-16 speaks even louder.

On Oct. 10, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O'Donovan and Sara Watkins will share hosting duties while Keillor takes a break. Thile, who confirmed to the Mandolin Cafe website that he is scheduled to eventually take over, will preside Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 at the Fitzgerald Theatre.

Perhaps,most intriguing: Thile and Keillor co-hosting from San Diego's Civic Theatre on Jan. 23 and New York's Town Hall on April 16.

An official passing of the reins?

Keillor and his team declined to go into details, particularly when it came to speculating on what kind of role he might play after stepping down as the emcee.

"It really is no big deal," said Keillor as he prepared for a trip to London. "And as for the future future, we'll just have to wait and see."

Justin Vernon's Eaux Claires Fest unveils its full inaugural schedule

Justin Vernon, right, is in the driver's seat for the Eaux Claires fest with co-captain Bryce Dessner of the National. / Photo courtesy Eaux Claires

Justin Vernon, right, is in the driver's seat for the Eaux Claires fest with co-captain Aaron Dessner of the National. / Photo courtesy Eaux Claires

With less than two weeks left before Eau Claire becomes an indie-rock mecca for two days, Justin Vernon and his team have released the full schedule for their inaugural Eaux Claires Music & Art Festival.

The July 17-18 event will culminate with the first performance by Vernon’s Bon Iver in almost four years at 10 p.m. that Saturday, preceded by the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Sylvan Esso, Charles Bradley and Vernon's beloved Indigo Girls (read our story here on their unique invitatio). Friday’s wowza of a lineup will end with one of the few gigs this year by co-curator Aaron Dessner’s band the National, also scheduled for 10 p.m. Spoon, Blind Boys of Alabama, Boyz Noize, Lizzo, Low, Sturgill Simpson and Doomtree are also scheduled Friday -- the latter two back-to-back on the Flambeaux stage, a changeover that embodies the fest's eclectic mix.

Performances will be split between four different stages, the biggest of which is named Lake Eaux Lune. French-challenged attendees should know the correct pronunciations of them all by fest’s end. Each day will also include film screenings, art instillations, parading performances by the No BS! Brass Band and lots more in addition to the music listed here.

For fans eyeing one of these days and not both, single-day tickets are now on sale for $75 alongside the $135 two-day passes via the Eaux Claires site. Camping passes are now sold out, though.

FRIDAY

LAKE EAUX LUNE STAGE:

  • THE LONE BELLOW  2:30pm-3:15 pm
  • THE STAVES  4:45pm-5:30 pm
  • SPOON  6:45pm-7:45 pm
  • THE NATIONAL  9:20pm-11 pm

FLAMBEAUX:

  • HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER 1:30pm-2:15 pm
  • STURGILL SIMPSON  3:30pm-4:30 pm
  • DOOMTREE  5:45pm-6:30 pm
  • TALLEST MAN ON EARTH  8:00pm-9:00 pm
  • FRANCIS AND THE LIGHTS 11:00pm-11:45 pm
  • PHOX FILM PREMIERE  12:00am-12:45 am
  • MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS  12:50am-1:30 am

THE DELLS OF THE ST. COIX

  • FIELD REPORT   2:00pm-2:45 pm
  • LITURGY  3:15pm-4:00 pm
  • LOW  4:45pm-5:30 pm
  • BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA  6:15pm-7:00 pm
  • ALLAN KINGDOM  7:30pm-8:10 pm
  • CORBIN   8:10pm-8:50 pm
  • LIZZO  11:15pm-11:45 pm
  • MARIJUANA DEATHSQUADS  11:45pm-12:30 am
  • BOYS NOIZE  12:30am-1:30 am

THE BANKS OF THE ST. COIX

  • THE PENNY SERFS   2:00pm-2:30 pm
  • MINA TINDLE  3:15pm-4 pm
  • FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL  4:30pm-5:30 pm
  • JON MUELLER’S INITIATION  6:00pm-7 pm
  • SAM AMIDON  7:45pm-8:30 pm
  • GRANDMA SPARROW  11:00pm-11:45 pm

SATURDAY

LAKE EAUX LUNE

  • PHIL COOK  1:15pm-2 pm
  • HALEY BONAR  3:00pm-3:45 pm
  • GIVERS  5:00pm-5:45 pm
  • INDIGO GIRLS  7:15pm-8:15 pm
  • BON IVER  10:00pm-11:30 pm

FLAMBEAUX

  • S. CAREY  2:00pm-2:45 pm
  • CHARLES BRADLEY  4:00pm-4:45 pm
  • POLICA  6:00pm-7 pm
  • SUFJAN STEVENS  8:30pm-9:4pm

THE DELLS OF THE ST. COIX

  • ELLIOT MOSS 1:30pm-2:15 pm          
  • COLIN STETSON  2:35pm-3:15 pm
  • AERO FLYNN  3:45pm-4:30 pm
  • MELT BANANA  5:00pm-5:30 pm
  • PHOX  6:00pm-6:45 pm
  • SYLVAN ESSO  7:30pm-8:30 pm

THE BANKS OF THE ST. COIX

  • FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL  1:15pm-2:15 pm
  • CHRIS ROSENAU   2:45pm-3:30 pm
  • yMusic  4:00pm-4:50 pm
  • PHOX FILM PREMIERE   5:10pm-5:55 pm
  • RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR  6:45pm-7:30 pm

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