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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

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.

Jun 8th: The Folk Revival Revisited: Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Jim Kweskin, Jerry Garcia, Alan Lomax, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt and more

The American folk music revival that grew from the Post-WWII era to the Sixties was about more than just music: it wrapped in political activism, romantic visions of the self and the “folk,” group “sing-a-longs,” “hootenannies” and careers of singer-songwriters. We interview folk heroine Judy Collins about her move from traditional British folk songs to the new songs and sounds in Greenwich Village. Jug bandleader Jim Kweskin talks about his love of communal living. The late Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax offer opinions on their divergent views of folk music and the quest for authenticity. Jerry Garcia tells of his most influential folk music source and we’ll hear Dylan go electric at Newport in 1965. Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops talks about bringing back the peoples’ music of another era today.

Jun 15th: Guilty Pleasures: Music We Love More Than We Can Say

Jun 22nd: Billie Holiday: Ladies Sing the Blues & Beyond--with Singers Cassandra Wilson and Catherine Russell

We follow Billie Holiday from her beginnings through a complex life of troubles and musical triumphs, her compelling "autumn" voice and untimely passing at age 44. Biographers John Szwed and Robert O'Meally discuss Lady Day's style and significance, while Cassandra Wilson describes and sings her approach to the Billie Holiday oeuvre. Singer Catherine Russell describes reaching back to recreate classic blues and jazz. From our archives we hear Nina Simone and Bonnie Raitt praising their blues heroines in story and song.

Jun 29th: Festival International 2017


Previous Programs

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.

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 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 4th: Jazz and Heritage: New Orleans and Beyond