Thursday, 7 to 9 p.m.
This program is available for sponsorship!
(Contact Ron Horan for more details.)
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.
While they don't all have blue-eyes, the white soul and swamp pop guys and gals from Philadelphia and South Louisiana have created distinctive regional sounds of national significance. In Philadelphia, we sample soul roots of the famed band Hall & Oates; and learn from John Oates that -- despite years of pop music, big hair and synthesizers-- at heart he is also a folkie into to country blues and flat-picked guitar a la Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt… which he plays live for us! The angelic-voiced Daryl Hall, on the other hand is more disciple of the Temptations who we'll hear along with the Orlons, The O'Jays and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. In south Louisiana the simmering pot of music that draws on Cajun, R&B, soul and country ends up as a tasty dish called Swamp Pop. Johnnie Allan (Guillot) is a Cajun Swamp Pop chef extraordinaire with hits like “South to Louisiana” and a version of the “Promised Land” played on the French accordion. He's surrounded by music from Earl King, Cookie & the Cupcakes, and Slim Harpo. Tasty indeed!Feb 18th, 2016: Rock and Soul from Memphis to Muscle Shoals: Candi Staton, Sam Phillips and Barbara Sims
This week on American Routes, we talk to Barbara Sims about her time working at Sun Studios as a publicist and promoter, and the search for the next Elvis. Then we dig into the archives for classic interviews with Sun’s founder Sam Phillips, Elvis’ sidemen DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore and the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Then we head over to North Alabama for a conversation on love, God and music with soul and disco siren Candi Staton.Feb 25th, 2016: Soul Sisters
We talk to three soul singers from the formative era of the mid 1950s through Motown of the late 60s, and an all-female New Orleans brass band. Justine “Baby” Washington talks about growing up in Harlem and her hits such as “That's How Heartaches Are Made.” Maxine Brown started as teenager in NYC singing with gospel groups. By 1960 she penned the hit, “All in My Mind,” and would later have hits with “Oh No Not My Baby” and a duet with Chuck Jackson on “Something You Got.” Chris Clark is a rare white soul singer who recorded for Detroit's Motown Records. Finally, the Original Pinettes Brass Band is a young, ten-member, all-women's New Orleans jazz band who have received major recognition in a field dominated by men.Mar 3rd, 2016: 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.Mar 10th, 2016: The Emperor and the Professor of New Orleans Music: Ernie K-Doe & Professor Longhair
We recall two grand figures of New Orleans music beginning with Ernie K-Doe, the surreal soul man of catchy songs, and flamboyant antics in New Orleans R&B, from his hit "Mother-in-Law" to the "Burn K-Doe Burn" approach to his local radio show and serving as host and main attraction of his and wife Antoinette's Mother-in-Law Lounge. Ben Sandmel who wrote Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans joins the carnivalesque conversation. Then a piano tribute to Professor Longhair by Dr. John, Jon Cleary and George Porter, live from the legendary New Orleans club Tipitina's, named after Longhair's most famous song. We also play the original recordings with commentary from Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, producer Jerry Wexler, and studio recordist Cosimo Matassa.Mar 17th, 2016: Music of the Folk Revival: Judy Collins, Jim Kweskin & Ramblin’ Jack Elliot
Mar 24th, 2016: Kingpins of the Gulf Coast: Rodney Crowell & Dr. John
The Houston-born singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell talks about growing up on the rough side of town with the ghost of Hank Williams as a “family member,” as well writing songs for his recent duet partner Emmylou Harris. He also wrote for many of the country heavy weights from Jerry Reed to Guy Clark and Bob Seeger, and was also the antagonist in Rosanne Cash’s signature tune “Seven Year Ache.” Then we’ll sit down live in a rare visit to Nashville (!) with the Crescent City’s Nite Tripper himself Dr. John, who reminisces about and demonstrates his early days at the piano, and on a music industry, “spying mission” that could only happen in New Orleans.Mar 31st, 2016: American Routes Live! The Meters, Drive-By Truckers, and Baton Rouge Blues Festival
Time for some “Fire on the Bayou” at a rare reunion of New Orleans’ funk jam band and studio wizards, The Meters -- Art Neville, keyboards; Leo Nocentelli, guitar; Zigaboo Modeliste, drums; and George Porter Jr., bass -- on stage at the Howlin' Wolf club. Then Drive-By Truckers, fronted by songmen/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, bring their poetic and critical style of Southern rock a la Muscle Shoals, Alabama to New Orleans' historic Civic Theatre. Finally we roll 80 miles upriver to the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, featuring dapper Mississippian Little Freddie King; Louisiana swamp blues guitarist Lil Buck Sinegal; Creole zydeco accordionist Jeffery Broussard; and Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens from New York. Turn on, tune in and chill out!
Previous Programsdisplays the previous month of programming
For our annual pre-Lenten bacchanal, we bring you classic Mardi Gras songs from the Crescent City and beyond. We travel to Nice, France - grand city on the Cote d'Azure - for a float parade that parodies American fast food assembly lines and French political scandals as stinky as local cheese; From there, on to the vintners village of Limoux, where free glasses of blanchette are never empty. We end our journey in Coney Island NY, where we hear of carnivalesque revelry at America's great amusement park by the sea and walk with the fishes in the Mermaid Parade.Jan 28th, 2016: Richard Thompson & Zachary Richard
This week on American Routes, we'll talk to folk rocker songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson. An advocate for British lyric and music tradition in new settings with refashioned traditional songs and stories, Thompson evolved from playing in the seminal folk-rock band, Fairport Convention to his present day role as an in-demand guitarist and songwriter. Then we'll visit with accordion-man Zachary Richard about growing up in French-speaking south Louisiana but needing to go to France and Quebec to realize the significance of the Cajun culture into which he was born.Jan 21st, 2016: Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Black Experience in Country Music
This week, we talk to the founding members of the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Justin Robinson, Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons started playing music together under the tutelage of legendary black old-time fiddler, Joe Thompson in his backyard shed. The Chocolate Drops came together to carry on the old time and country traditions from the Piedmont region in the Carolinas, but they wanted to do more than just play. They wanted to show their audiences that African American music finds its roots in genres beyond blues and jazz. Then, we revisit our 2004 interview with country legend Charley Pride, conversation on baseball, the Grand Ole Opry, and how the son of Mississippi sharecroppers becomes a country star.Jan 14th, 2016: Words and Music in the Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.
American Routes reflects on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in words and music. Join us as we speak with those who knew Dr. King, from music scholar Albert Murray and historian Julian Bond to musicians Harry Belafonte and Mable John. Also, Mississippi riverboat captain Doc Hawley shares a unique memory of Memphis. Plus songs of freedom, deliverance and hope to commemorate this holiday weekend.