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American Routes



Thursday, 7 to 9 p.m.

American Routes 
This program is available for sponsorship!
(Contact Ken Scott 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.

Upcoming Programming

Jul 24th, 2014: Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals

Celebrate epic moments in American music from the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals--from Duke Ellington's 1956 comeback to Bob Dylan's 1965 electric revolution. Mark the 60th anniversary of the Jazz Festival with performances by Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, and a visit from trumpet legend Clark Terry, who played with Ellington in '56. Festival founder George Wein also joins us to share his memories, such as the founding of the Folk Festival in 1959 that featured blues, gospel, country, Cajun and more; and folk singer Joan Baez recalls her Newport experiences. Plus Newport performances from Doc Watson, John Lee Hooker and others.

Jul 31st, 2014: Music and Memories along the Mississippi: the Lewis Family Museum, Haney's Big House and New Orleans jazz funeral

How do we capture the intangible power of music and memories? We'll first take a tour of the Lewis Family Museum and liquor store in Ferriday, Louisiana, where Jerry Lee Lewis’ sister Frankie Jean shows us around their family home decorated with show posters, weapons, magazine clippings, religious icons and other memorabilia. Then we’ll visit with the mayor of Ferriday and the people who turned memories into reality of blues club/hotel/bus depot/post office Haney's Big House that burned down in 1966. Across the river in Natchez, MS, blues drummer and harp player Hezekiah Early looks back on playing in Haney’s house band. Back down in New Orleans, we'll talk with Tremé Brass Band’s leader and snare drummer Benny Jones and bass drummer Joe Lastie about their late drummer and friend Uncle Lionel Batiste who was memorably embalmed standing up in street parade finery.

Aug 7th, 2014: Mr. Soul: A Tribute to Sam Cooke

Tune in for a tribute to the man who melded gospel, soul and pop in music and life, Sam Cooke. We'll follow the singer from Clarksdale to Chicago and from the church to the Copa as he revolutionized gospel music with the Soul Stirrers and then secular music with self-penned hits “You Send Me,” “Change is Gonna Come,” and more. Plus an hour of the musical roots and branches of Sam Cooke.

Aug 14th, 2014: Singing of Deltas and Bayous: Iris DeMent and Lost Bayou Ramblers

Singer-songwriter Iris DeMent returns to the landscape and soundscape of her youth, the Arkansas Delta. We'll speak with Iris about her musical homecoming, and listen in on an exclusive solo piano performance of her most recent songs. Then we catch up with the Lafayette punk and rockabilly-inflected Cajun band, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, fronted by brothers Andre and Louis Michot, who can count Gordon Gano (of the Violent Femmes) as a collaborator and fan.

Aug 21st, 2014: Dr. Lonnie Smith & Terrance Simien: Keys and Squeeze

From the heart of French Louisiana to the streets of New York, American Routes is mixing it up this week with two giants of their genres. We visit with jazz great Dr. Lonnie Smith, whose mastery of the music is synonymous with his ever-present Hammond B3 organ. We drop down deep in the pocket with Lonnie, and get keyed in to the past and present of soul and jazz. And out on the Cajun and Creole prairies we drop in on zydeco accordionist and Grammy award winner Terrance Simien. Plus jazz, blues and country tunes from keyboard masters of all kinds.

Aug 28th, 2014: Labor Day with Drive-By Truckers, Baton Rouge Blues Fest, and More

Previous Programming

displays the previous month of programming
Jul 17th, 2014: Mavis Staples & Bob Dorough

Singer Mavis Staples grew up singing blues-inflected gospel with her family in Chicago, lead by her father Pops Staples' distinctive voice and guitar style. Their sound transcended the local scene, translating the message of the Civil Rights movement into song. We'll talk with Mavis about her 2010 release You Are Not Alone with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Then, we'll sit in while jazz songsmith Bob Dorough spins stories of the 1950s jazz world and takes us back to Schoolhouse Rock to share his thoughts on the magical properties of the number 3.

Jul 10th, 2014: Going Down the Road with Woody Guthrie

American Routes heralds the birthday of our nation’s greatest roving troubadour and social commentator, Woody Guthrie, with a two-hour special dedicated to his life in music. We’ll visit with friends and relatives who share tales of Guthrie’s trials and triumphs, from Okemah, Oklahoma to Coney Island, New York. Guthrie’s children, Nora and Arlo, reflect on their father’s life, scholar Guy Logsdon discusses Guthrie’s Dust Bowl days and Pete Seeger shares the backstory to Woody’s anthem for the “down and outers.” Plus music and memories from Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Moses Asch, Bob Dylan and so many others.

Jul 3rd, 2014: American Routes Live! Fourth of July: Musical Geographies of the Gulf South

This Independence Day American Routes celebrates music and musicians from New Orleans, Mississippi and French Louisiana. Recorded live at New Orleans’ venerable (1906) Civic Theatre, the show features New Orleans clarinetist Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band with the definitive Creole music born in the Crescent City: traditional jazz. White is joined by fellow NEA Heritage recipient, Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet and the influential band of the French Louisiana cultural revival BeauSoleil (‘good sunshine’). The downhome blues of guitarist and wordslinger Little Freddie King of McComb, Mississippi kicks off the show and the spirit-filled gospel of Electrifying Crown Seekers from New Orleans' west bank take us home. Our special guest is beloved jazz vocalist Topsy Chapman, also famed locally as the first black cocktail waitress on Bourbon Street in the 1960s. Join us for a holiday edition of the new American Routes Live series. May the Fourth be with you!

Jun 26th, 2014: Sonic Travelers: Jerry Douglas and Guitar Shorty

It’s a blues and country showdown on American Routes with two instrumental showmen. Jerry Douglas is a master of the dobro, and a favorite session man and band member for so many musicians: from Allison Krauss to Elvis Costello. We’ll talk to Jerry about his recent project, which leads him beyond bluegrass to New Orleans. Then, a visit with the acrobatic bluesman Guitar Shorty, who shares some history on his times traveling the Chitlin Circuit.

 
 
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