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

Get Rhythm: A Tribute to Johnny Cash

Oct 9, 2018

It’s a two-hour tribute in song and story to the Man in Black. We’ll hear from his family, friends and associates on the contradictions—preacher, outlaw, loving family man, rockabilly rebel—that made the man. Voices include Rosanne Cash; son John Carter Cash; sister Joanne Yates; bassist and original member of the Tennessee Two Marshall Grant; guitarist Johnny Western; producer Rick Rubin; long-time manager Lou Robin; writer and critic Michael Streissguth; and, of course, Johnny Cash.

Crossover Dreams: Latin Music In America

Oct 2, 2018

We’ll sample the sabor latino in American music. Join us for conversation with Los Lobos on their mix of American pop and Mexican traditions. We’ll visit Los Cenzontles, a community arts center in San Francisco dedicated to the teaching of Mexican music, and drop by a Philadelphia radio show spinning salsa hits for the neighborhood. Then, we’ll sit in with pianist and bandleader Oscar Hernandez of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra for some Nuyorican beats and salsa moves. Plus a special performance by San Antonio’s queen of the conjunto accordion, Eva Ybarra.

Timekeepers: The Art of Drumming

Sep 25, 2018

This week on American Routes, we’re keeping the beat with drummers and rhythm makers across the genres: everyone from Sun Records’ Rockabilly drummer JM Van Eaton, to jazz percussionist Ben Riley, who had to keep up with the unconventional rhythms of Thelonious Monk. In between, we listen live in-studio to New Orleans’ King of Treme, Shannon Powell, whose music takes us from the church to the streets and beyond.

Fall Fundraiser 2018

Sep 21, 2018

Autumn Equinox: Season Change and Autumnal Sounds

Sep 18, 2018

As temperatures begin to dip and the leaves turn color, we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox with a soundtrack for the changing season.

A Grateful Journey

Sep 11, 2018

A conversation with a man of many talents: songwriter, actor, boxer, military man, among many titles, Kris Kristofferson, reflecting on his life in music, his songwriting craft, and the nature of gratitude for his life’s adventures.

Fellow Travelers

Sep 4, 2018

We’re on the road again, dialed into high-flying honky-tonk as we cruise through Texas cotton patches and Midwestern pastures of plenty. Starting off in Illinois farm country, we meet up with Margo Price, who followed her dreams of songwriting to Nashville, Tennessee. She put her name on the map with songs about growing up in rural America, and has since dug in her heels while singing about a landscape of gender and economic inequities.

Labor Day Live With the Baton Rouge Blues Fest

Aug 28, 2018

The long-running Baton Rouge Blues Festival draws on the Louisiana capital’s definitive musical legacy. This Labor Day, we play live cuts from BRBF’s 2018 festivities: Harmonica man and singer Lazy Lester revisits the R&B singles he released on Excello Records in the ’50s and ’60s. Guitarist Jimmy “Duck” Holmes plays Bentonia-style blues, which he learned growing up in Mississippi around the family juke joint. Cowboy Stew Blues Revue — a supergroup of Lafayette, LA-musicians including blues rocker C.C.

Routes Live!

Aug 21, 2018

Some great live performances in and beyond New Orleans. First, from the cavernous Howlin’ Wolf club in the Warehouse District, The Meters perform a set of their bass-heavy funk blended with R&B and Mardi Gras Indian chants.

New Blues and Bluegrass

Aug 14, 2018

Facing the hot season head on, we hit up juke joints, dancehalls and folk festivals to get our fill of hot licks from blues and bluegrass musicians, oldtimers and newcomers alike. We talk shop with Mississippi Hill Country bluesman Cedric Burnside about playing music alongside his grandfather R.L. Burnside, finding his voice and translating old school sounds for a new generation.

Giants of Jazz

Aug 7, 2018

For this special American Routes program, we follow the lives of two giants of jazz: Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. From their humble North Carolina beginnings to their triumphs on the world stage, we’ll trace their individual and inspired paths to creativity. And we’ll visit with the musicians who played with the greats, including McCoy Tyner and Pharoah Sanders, and the next generation, TS Monk and Ravi Coltrane.

Stories From the Road

Jul 31, 2018

We hit the open road to hear tales of adventure and woe from honky-tonkers and hobos, train-hoppers and busking bohemians. En route we talk with Washington folk singer Brandi Carlile, who dropped out of high school to cut it as a touring musician, and New Orleans’ Meschiya Lake, about her journey from circus performer to jazz chanteuse. Driving on in search of mythic America, we hear the voices of its discontents: Woody Guthrie, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Wilcoand Pops Staples.

A Routes Rocker and Memories of the Alligator Man

Jul 24, 2018

We trace stardom back to its source, traversing the roots and routes that led small town musicians to national fame. Pop icon Boz Scaggs and the late Cajun honky-tonk man Jimmy C. Newman took very different paths to the stage but carried with them the sounds they grew up hearing in rural America. Boz Scaggs achieved mainstream success with his own platinum records as well as his work with Steve Miller and Duane Allman.

Record Mavens

Jul 17, 2018

Traveling at the speed of 45 RPM, we sink into the record grooves of some of our favorite songs and talk to the studio wizards who produced them. First stop is Nashville, home to Music Row as well as Easy Eye Sound, the recording studio of Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach. We talk with Auerbach about his journey in music, from hearing vinyl on his parents’ turntable in Akron, Ohio, to cutting records with some of Nashville’s legendary session players.

Blue Note Records: Then and Now

Jul 10, 2018

We take a deep dive into the vaults of Blue Note Records, the independent label that helped put artists like Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Jimmy Smith on the map. Flagbearer of trad jazz, bebop and the cool school, Blue Note is still at it after 79 years and has expanded its wheelhouse to include vocalists like Norah Jones, Ryan Adams and Van Morrison. We talk with producer extraordinaire and Blue Note president Don Was about the label’s past and new directions.

And So Fourth!

Jul 3, 2018

Happy July Fourth! Add some sizzle to your backyard barbecue with hot licks from the stage as we roadtrip from New Orleans to Butte, Montana. We start off at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter for vocal fireworks from gospel quartet the Blind Boys of Alabama and Crescent City soul singer Irma Thomas, both backed by the mojo masters of Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Small Town Blues

Jun 26, 2018

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. We hear from Jeff in his Chicago studio “The Loft” about the emergence of Wilco and the place that making music has in his life, including work with Woody Guthrie’s lyrics and producing records with Mavis Staples. In Bentonia, Mississippi, playing blues and running the Blue Front Cafe, has been a lifetime role for guitarist Jimmy “Duck” Holmes.

Summertime Variations

Jun 19, 2018

To kick off 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 Zombie

When Is Fathers' Day?

Jun 12, 2018

From “Ol’ Man River” to “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” we turn to the American songbook for portraits of fatherhood, both kindly and cautionary, from down-home country to down-with-the-man rock’n‘roll and soul. We talk to New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis about family life and raising four career musicians—Wynton, Branford, Jason and Delfeayo. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys tells of working in the studio with his dad, Chuck Auerbach, who is making his recording debut at age 68 with Remember Me. Daughter Rosanne remembers Johnny Cash's voice and her favorite of his tunes.

Dreamers Then and Now

Jun 5, 2018

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