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American Routes

Thursday, 7 to 9 p.m.


Hosted by Nick Spitzer, American Routes covers the "vast American musical landscape," spanning genres and eras: From Aretha Franklin to George Jones, Los Lobos to Howlin' Wolf, Count Basie to Beck.

This program is available for sponsorship! (Contact Ron Horan for more details.)

Upcoming Programs

Apr 27th: Cosmic Saxophones: Charles Neville and Charles Lloyd

This week on American Routes, we give voice to the saxophone—an instrument revered by everyone from free jazzmen like Charles Lloyd to soul rocker Charles Neville, of the Neville Brothers. New Orleanian Charles Neville tells us how music carried him through his family, his neighborhood and a segregated South. Charles Lloyd, a real California dreamer, traces the roots of his modern, free style and musical collaborations back to the blues of Memphis. From the archives we hear words and music of saxophone honker Sam Butera (Louis Prima), bebopper Sonny Rollins and modernist Yusef Lateef; plus recordings from Sidney Bechet, Lester Young, Louis Jordan, John Coltrane and King Curtis.

May 4th: Jazz and Heritage: New Orleans and Beyond

May 11th: Mother’s Day

American Routes celebrates Mother's Day with Marty Stuart and his mom, Hilda. We'll talk about their shared love of photography and a certain girl singer, Connie Smith. Then we'll hear stories about mothers from Fontella Bass, Sonny Rollins, Bo Diddley, and Geno Delafose, among others. Plus songs from blues to bluegrass about and for dear old mom.

May 18th: Los Angeles: Soundtrack for the Angels

In this special program American Routes' host Nick Spitzer uncovers the music and cultural traditions of Los Angeles: from Hollywood to neighborhood. Join Nick as he travels across the City of Angels to hear from L.A. legends -- including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and songwriter Randy Newman -- and explores musical cultures with Cambodian-born rapper PraCh Ly in Long Beach, Louisiana Creole zydeco accordionist T-Lou in South Central, and East L.A.'s Ersi Arvizu. Plus conversations and music from Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos, R & B saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, and rockabilly guitarist Glen Glenn. Along the way we visit L.A. musical landmarks – including the famed Capitol Records recording studios.

May 25th: Memorial Day with the NEA National Heritage Fellows

American Routes celebrates Memorial Day weekend with a sonic feast from National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellows--recipients of America's most prestigious award in folk & traditional arts. We'll hear music and conversation from past Fellows: bluegrass picker Del McCoury, rockabilly Wanda Jackson, sacred steel guitarists, the Campbell Brothers, and late blues singer Koko Taylor. The 2016 Fellows included: Mardi Gras Indian Chief Monk Boudreaux, Irish accordionist Billy McComiskey and Mexican-American singer Artemio Posadas. Other awardees range from basketmakers in Kentucky and the Penobscot tribe in Maine, to traditional wind instrumentalists from South Dakota and Laos.

Jun 1st: Jesse Winchester, Wayne & Jayne Henderson

We’ll remember the late singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, through his music and his own words. Then a visit to Rugby, VA for a close listen into sustainable guitars and ukuleles, made by Jayne and Wayne Henderson, of Henderson Guitars.


Previous Programs

Apr 20th: "How Many Roads…?” Bob Dylan’s Back Pages

Bob Dylan’s songs are part of American consciousness, with sources and symbols drawing from old-time country and folk, blues and ballads, ancient and modern poetry, the beauties and absurdities of life, love and loss. His contributions to the big river of songs have grown and been recognized worldwide. The young man from Hibbing, Minnesota, is now an elder… a Nobel Laureate; but his listeners didn’t need that or any such weathervane to prize Bob Dylan. It was, and is, always in his words and voice, music and memory where fans and friends found inspiration. Bob's songs ask questions and seek action. They remain timely in this dark season with a New Year ahead. We hear Dylan’s early, classic, rare and more recent recordings along with comments from Joan Baez and filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (“Don’t Look Back”). Also Dylan’s music as played by the Byrds and the Band, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone, Doug Sahm and Sandy Denny. We hope you enjoy listening to this program as much as we did making it.

Apr 13th: Prison Songs: Remembering Merle Haggard

American Routes explores the music associated with outlaws and life behind bars, from "Ball and Chain" to "Jailhouse Rock," from Johnny Cash’s San Quentin show to Leadbelly’s "Midnight Special.” We revisit our 2000 interview with the late-Merle Haggard, and then talk to Aaron Neville about his experience with incarceration. Plus a visit to the "Wildest Show in the South"--the Angola, Louisiana Prison Rodeo.

Apr 6th: Alison Krauss and Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff

This week on American Routes, fiddler and singer Allison Krauss talks about her journey through bluegrass and country, from small-town Illinois all the way to Nashville. Then it's Hurray for the Riff Raff, a New Orleans folk band with roots in the Bronx, fronted by Alynda Segarra. We’ll also have music from Chuck Berry, Bob Willis, Nina Simone and Tom Waits.

Mar 30th: The Baton Rouge Blues Festival

This weekend, American Routes is stomping the blues with live performances from the 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival… featuring swamp blues, Mississippi Delta blues, hill country blues, and the blues rocked out. Artists include Howlin’ Wolf’s pianoman Henry Gray, harp player Lazy Lester, Kenny Neal and family, Slim Harpo’s right-hand guitar man James “Chicken Scratch” Johnson, songmaker Luke Winslow King, New Orleans soul funkster Walter “Wolfman" Washington and R.L. Burnside’s grandson, Kent Burnside. Plus a visit to Teddy’s Juke Joint nearby on Highway 61 in Zachary, LA