American Routes

Rhythm & News: Sun • 2pm-4pm
  • Hosted by Nick Spitzer

Presenting a broad range of American music — from blues, jazz, gospel and soul, to rockabilly, zydeco, Tejano and roots rock – American Routes explores the shared musical and cultural threads that both distinguish and bind these diverse genres.  The program also presents documentary features and artist interviews that take listeners on journeys riding legendary trains, visiting street parades, discovering roadside attractions and meeting tap dancers, fishermen and fortunetellers.  The songs and stories on American Routes chronicle and celebrate both the community origins of American music and the musicians who create it.

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Creoles and Cowgirls

Oct 17, 2017

We hit up Preservation Hall in the French Quarter for a potent dose of trad jazz, as bandleader and fourth-generation Creole musician Charlie Gabriel tells of his Caribbean roots, jazz funerals, and New Orleans’ hybrid rhythms. Then we head to the Lonestar state to hear the reworking of jazz into Texas swing, as played by the Quebe Sisters. The fiddling siblings tell of their sheltered upbringing outside Ft. Worth and their fiery baptism into western swing.

More Words and Music

Oct 10, 2017

Music as literature…a concept explored by songwriter, singer and guitarist Laura Cantrell who joins us to talk about her picaresque journey from Nashville to New York.  And writer, cultural critic and Boston Boy Nat Hentoff recalls his famous associations from Charles Mingus to Billie Holiday and why Charlie Parker loved country music.  Plus Delhi, LA soul man Toussaint McCall talks about the writing of his magnum opus "Nothing Takes the Place of You."  Country, jazz, blues, R&B and more come together for this hardcover edition

Ponderosa Stomp and Americana Swamp

Oct 3, 2017

This week, we’re previewing the 2017 Ponderosa Stomp with master of ceremonies Dr. Ike, who shares his memories of pioneering the yearly extravaganza that turns the spotlight on the unsung heroes of American music. We visit the archives for a conversation with this year’s headliner, R&B guitar-woman from Beaumont, TX, Barbara Lynn.  We’ll also hear from Arizona Twangmaster Duane Eddy, who headlined back in 2010.

In this special program, we visit Angola, the notorious plantation-turned-penitentiary, to hear stories and songs from within the prison’s walls. We talk with saxophonist Charles Neville about serving time at the “Farm” during the Jim Crow era, playing with fellow inmates in the Nic Nacs, and the role of music in integrating prison life. We hear previously unreleased Harry Oster field recordings of Mardi Gras Indian chants and bebop jazz from Angola in the late-50s.

Latin Tinge

Sep 19, 2017

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the “Latin tinge” in American music.  We’ll hear a classic interview with the late nuyorican bandleader and King of the Timbales, Tito Puente, who tells us about the roots of tropical Latin jazz in Spanish Harlem. Then, it’s off to the West Coast, where we visit the Los Angeles club of the late, great bandleader Nati Cano. As leader of Mariachi Los Camperos, Nati Cano was a central figure in the Mexican Mariachi scene of East LA.

Rock and Soul from Memphis to Muscle Shoals

Sep 12, 2017

We road-trip to the fertile crescent of rock and soul with Barbara Sims, Sun Studios publicist and promoter, as she tells of her search for the next Elvis. We hightail it to North Alabama for a conversation on love, God and music with soul and disco siren Candi Staton. 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.

Rockin' the Blues

Sep 5, 2017

Tune in and rock the blues with two guitar men who do it with great authority. First up is Arkansas wild man and original Sun Records rockabilly Sonny Burgess who tore it up, playing his hits "We Wanna Boogie," "Red-Headed Woman" and others well into his eighties, before passing away last month. And hear a live set from the late great New Orleans bluesman and human jukebox Snooks Eaglin , recorded in 2007 at his home base, the famous Rock ‘N’ Bowl nightclub, where one can do either of those, or both, at the same time.

For Labor Day weekend …it’s Roots Rock & Soul, Jazz & the Working Man’s Blues. Summer’s end is in sight, but we get a little break from the grind ’cause blue Monday is at least another week away. Today we honor working folks with songs about coal miners, factory girls, a Labor Day carnival, and payday.  Plus … a live rockabilly show in New Orleans with guitarist Bill Kirchen.

Of Highways and Home

Aug 22, 2017

This week on American Routes, we'll ride along with fiddler and singer Alison Krauss on 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 fronted by Alynda Segarra, whose roots are in the Bronx. Segarra tells of her own time traveling as a teenager and what has inspired her to reconnect with her Puerto Rican heritage.

San Antonio Sounds: Music of the Mission City

Aug 16, 2017

The great Texas river city is a mix of Mexican, German, Anglo and African American cultures, among others. Home to the Texas Conjunto Festival and the International Accordion Festival,  San Antonio is best known for Tex-Mex or Téjano music played by squeeze box masters like Flaco Jiménez, Narciso Martinez and Mingo Saldivar among many. We’ll speak with Flaco, who in collaborations with Doug Sahm, Ry Cooder, and Los Super Seven, has carried the music worldwide.

San Antonio Sounds

Aug 15, 2017

The great Texas river city is a mix of Mexican, German, Anglo and African American cultures, among others. Home to the Texas Conjunto Festival and the International Accordion Festival,  San Antonio is best known for Tex-Mex or Téjano music played by squeeze box masters like Flaco Jiménez, Narciso Martinez and Mingo Saldivar among many. We’ll speak with Flaco, who in collaborations with Doug Sahm, Ry Cooder, and Los Super Seven, has carried the music worldwide.

Small Town Blues

Aug 8, 2017

Wilco frontman, Jeff Tweedy tells of the impact on his songs of growing up in the blue collar town, Belleville, Illinois.  Music became his creative outlet in high school and lead to founding the seminal Americana band, Uncle Tupelo.

At the peak of the Summer season, American Routes is riding the airwaves to exotic destinations, swinging  and surfing to all manner of beachside rhythms from the Beach Boys, Toots and the Maytals, Wilco, and the Kinks. We also stay home to bask in the sultry heat of "Summertime," composed by George Gershwin and novelist Dubose Heyward in 1934 for the opera Porgy and Bess . It's one of the most covered tunes in the American songbook with over thirty thousand renditions. We'll hear takes from Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, and the Zombies.

How Many Roads: Bob Dylan’s Back Pages Volume II

Jul 25, 2017

In this second edition of "How Many Roads?" Bob Dylan's Back Pages, we'll rejoin the great American wordsmith by listening to his work from the last 25 years. We won't forget the historic and ancient roots of his modern sounds, from the Old Testament to the Civil Rights movement. We'll hear from collaborators and friends, Mavis Staples and Joan Baez, and from Kris Kristofferson who overheard Dylan's recording sessions while working as a custodian in Nashville.

It’s summertime, and the living is easy on American Routes, where we’ve got cool tunes from Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Beach Boys to help you beat that summer heat. We’ll hear memories of Sea Breeze, NC, a historically Black resort community that was an early site of integration in the Jim Crow South… And visit with some surfers at Mission Beach, San Diego.

Rockin’ Behind the Iron Curtain: To Russia With Love

Jul 11, 2017

During the Cold War, the U.S. State Department started sending jazz musicians overseas with the tactical aim of using their hot licks to thaw relations with Eastern Bloc countries. Jazz great Dave Brubeck recalls how Louis Armstrong, a.k.a. “Ambassador Satch,” won international hearts and minds with his trumpet. Band member Arvell Shaw saw Armstrong literally disarm Russian guards in East Berlin.

The Folk Revival Revisited

Jul 3, 2017

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.

This holiday weekend American Routes boogies down to bayou country to catch live music at Festival International, a showcase of French music from southwest Louisiana and the wider Francophone world along with blues, Chicano nouveau and swamp pop. For the 31st annual festival, we hear female Cajun supergroup Bonsoir Catin tear up the stage; bluesman Corey Harris ring out the Mississippi Delta's West African roots; and blue-eyed soul from swamp pop legends Johnnie AllanT.K. Hulin, and G.G.

Billie Holiday: Ladies Sing the Blues & Beyond

Jun 20, 2017

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.

Trombone Shorty… Casts a Long Shadow

Jun 13, 2017

This week on American Routes, we're celebrating the life and music of Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Schooled in the sounds of his family and New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood, Shorty has been a musician since the age of four.

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