American Routes

Fridays at 12:00 Noon
  • Hosted by Nick Spitzer

American Routes is a weekly two-hour public radio program produced in New Orleans, presenting a broad range of American music — blues and jazz, gospel and soul, old-time country and rockabilly, Cajun and zydeco, Tejano and Latin, roots rock and pop, avant-garde and classical. Now in our 15th year on the air, American Routes explores the shared musical and cultural threads in these American styles and genres of music — and how they are distinguished.

Nick Spitzer - Host of American Routes

The program also presents documentary features and artist interviews. Our conversations include Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, B.B. King, Dr. John, Dave Brubeck, Abbey Lincoln, Elvis Costello, Ray Charles, Randy Newman, McCoy Tyner, Lucinda Williams, Rufus Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. Join us as we ride legendary trains, or visit street parades, instrument-makers, roadside attractions and juke joints, and meet tap dancers, fishermen, fortunetellers and more.

The songs and stories on American Routes describe both the community origins of our music, musicians and cultures — the “roots”— and the many directions they take over time — the “routes.”

americanroutes.wwno.org

Rock and Soul from Memphis to Muscle Shoals: Candi Staton, Sam Phillips and Barbara Sims  

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, we take a break from the grind with a sonic salute to the heroic “Factory Girl” and those all too familiar with the “Workin' Man Blues.” We explore the pains and joys of labor with tunes about coal miners, undertakers, chain gangs, and paydays. We hear a tribute to Cesar Chavez and the 1969 farm workers strike in Delano, CA. And we time travel with Lord Invader to 1940s Brooklyn to attend the West Indian Labor Day Carnival.

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. En route we’ll hear tunes from Chuck Berry, Bob Wills, Nina Simone and Tom Waits.  

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 Tejano music played by squeeze box masters like Flaco Jimenez, Narciso Martinez and Mingo Saldivar among many.  

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. 

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.  

Listen to American Routes with host Nick Spitzer every Friday at 12:00 noon on KRCB-FM Radio 91!

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. Meanwhile, fear of nuclear war with the Soviets infiltrated American popular consciousness resulting in gospel, bluegrass and pop odes to and protests against atomic weapons.

This Week on American Routes - The Folk Revival Revisited: Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Jim Kweskin, Jerry Garcia, Alan Lomax, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt and more! 

This Week on American Routes:  

Billie Holiday:  Ladies Sing the Blues & Beyond--with Singers Cassandra Wilson and Catherine Russell  

Guilty Pleasures:  Music We Love More Than We Can Say. We take a deep dive into the memory vaults to spin the tunes that we shamelessly love. From guilty pleasures, including a disco dance number, to confessional ballads like James Carr’s “Dark End of the Street” and songs of redemption ala Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” we shine a light on our heart’s true delights. Plus, we explore social protest anthems including Mavis Staples' "Long Walk to D.C.," Simon & Garfunkel's "Richard Cory," and a standout R & B version of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer" sung by Shreveport's Toussaint McCall.

Memorial Day with the NEA National Heritage Fellows: Michael White, Beausoleil,  Monk Boudreaux, Del McCoury, Koko Taylor and many more… 

In this special program, American Routes' host Nick Spitzer uncovers the music and cultural traditions of Los Angeles: from Hollywood to neighborhood. Join Nick as he travels across the City of Angels to hear from L.A. legends -- including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and songwriter Randy Newman -- and explores musical cultures with Cambodian-born rapper PraCh Ly in Long Beach, Louisiana Creole zydeco accordionist T-Lou in South Central, and East L.A.'s Ersi Arvizu.

May 12th, 2017 - American Routes celebrates Mother's Day with Marty Stuart and his mom, Hilda. We'll talk about their shared love of photography and a certain girl singer, Connie Smith. Then we'll hear stories about mothers from Fontella Bass, Sonny Rollins, Bo Diddley, and Geno Delafose, among others. Plus songs from blues to bluegrass about and for dear old mom.

Friday at noon on American Routes: 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.

This week, American Routes revisits the best live performances from the 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival. We'll feature swamp blues, Mississippi Delta blues, hill country blues, and the blues rocked out. Artists include Howlin' Wolf's pianoman Henry Gray, harp player Lazy Lester, Kenny Neal and family, Slim Harpo's right-hand guitar man James "Chicken Scratch" Johnson, songmaker Luke Winslow King, New Orleans soul funkster Walter "Wolfman" Washington and R.L. Burnside's grandson, Kent Burnside. Plus a visit to Teddy's Juke Joint nearby on Highway 61 in Zachary, LA.

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 country blues and flat-picked guitar a la Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt... which he plays live for us!

Timekeepers: The Art of Drumming with JM Van Eaton, Zigaboo Modeliste, Tito Puente, Ben Riley and Shannon Powell   

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.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Black Experience in Country Music 

This week American Routes brings 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 Creoles, south Louisiana's annual celebration of Cajun and Creole music, food and culture. We'll hear classic performances from the early days of the festival, talk with founder and scholar Barry Ancelet and sample some of the sights and sounds from the festival grounds.

Music, Comics & Collecting Records: R. Crumb & Jerry Zolten  

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.  

American Routes airs every Friday at 12:00 pm noon on KRCB-FM Radio 91  

 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.

Friday at noon - 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.