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.

Ways to Connect

Festivals Acadiens et Creoles and New Orleans Nightlife

Feb 14, 2017

This week on American Routes we bring you music from the festival stage and the clubs of South Louisiana. We visit some of our favorite nighttime musical haunts in New Orleans and spend time with guitar man Ernie Vincent and jazz historian Bruce Raeburn. Then, allons à Lafayette for the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, south Louisiana's annual celebration of Cajun and Creole music, food and culture.

Music, Comics & Collecting Records

Feb 7, 2017

This week on American Routes we spin some shellac and wax nostalgic with the iconic cartoonist, musician and record collector Robert Crumb, who'll share with us his love of musical times gone by. Then we talk to educator and vinyl aficionado Jerry Zolten about the story of Paramount Records, started by a furniture manufacturer, whose recorded legacy is now contained in two swank suitcases.

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

Jan 31, 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.

Motor City Music of Detroit

Jan 24, 2017

American Routes cruises the musical map of Detroit, catching the sights and sounds of the Motor City. From Hamtramck to Dearborn, we'll meet the proud people who made the cars and played the bars. Jazz modernist Yusef Lateef tells of his time on the assembly line. Smokey Robinson talks about growing up with Motown's future stars. We'll learn how to construct a hit record from Motown studio insiders, then visit a raccoon hunters club, known for bluegrass jams. Plus rockabilly stars, dream cars and polka bands... all from Detroit.

Song Makers and Song Takers

Jan 17, 2017

This week on American Routes, we hear from great songwriters and performers and those who emulate them. Original songs can take on new form and meaning when interpreted by different voices, and we'll hear some of those renditions and transformations this week. We'll hear the rocking Southern sound of the Drive-By Truckers covering Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles doing Hank Williams. Our guest William Bell, from Memphis, will tell us all about his music being played by the Byrds, and bluesman Albert King.

Keys and Squeeze

Jan 10, 2017

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.

Modern Tradition

Jan 3, 2017

The singer-songwriter Ben Harper has been on the scene since the early ‘90s, but has more recently been digging deeper into the blues with the legendary harpman Charlie Musselwhite.  We’ll talk with Ben about the musical journey from his family’s music store to what he calls his “graduation” album.  Then an in-studio conversation with a guitarist who has played with Sun Ra and now plays banjo with Preservation Hall, New Orleans’ own Carl LeBlanc.

"How Many Roads…?” Bob Dylan’s Back Pages

Dec 27, 2016

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.

A Sonic Season of Light & Evergreens

Dec 20, 2016
Santa's Second Line
Chuck Siler

Our “Sonic Season” includes Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day.  We celebrate with New Orleans Zion Harmonizers live in our studio. Woody Guthrie sings a Hanukkah song while Bob Dylan tells of  “Three Angels.” We interview a black Santa about his Christmas days in Vietnam, and Bob Dorough sings “Blue Xmas,” the song he wrote for Miles Davis. Meanwhile, life in America goes on... in hopes and dreams that bring light to the darkness…

Rock and Soul from Memphis to Muscle Shoals

Dec 13, 2016

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.

How Blue Can You Get?

Oct 7, 2016

Banjos Lost and Found

Apr 6, 2016

From the earliest blues and minstrel tunes to clawhammer bluegrass and forward to newgrass, the banjo has been a part of American music. This week we visit with New Orleans Creole jazzman Don Vappie and hear how the instrument is used in New Orleans traditional jazz. And feel the zeitgeist as San Diego-based Nickel Creek come by for a live set and talk about building onto their bluegrass base and moving beyond.

The Emperor and the Professor of New Orleans Music

Mar 9, 2016
Ernie K-Doe
Dave Cash

Show Mix 101715

Jan 7, 2016

Music, Comics & Collecting Records

Dec 22, 2015

Billie Holiday: Ladies Sing the Blues & Beyond

Dec 17, 2015

Remembering Allen Toussaint: A Saint for All Seasons

Dec 10, 2015

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