American Routes on WCAI

Saturdays at 10:00pm

American Routes is a two-hour weekly excursion into American music, spanning eras and genres—roots rock and soul, blues and country, jazz, gospel and beyond.

http://americanroutes.wwno.org/

Cosmic Saxophones

Apr 25, 2017

This week on American Routes, we give voice to the saxophone—an instrument revered by everyone from free jazzmen like Charles Lloyd to soul rocker Charles Neville, of the Neville Brothers. New Orleanian Charles Neville tells us how music carried him through his family, his neighborhood and a segregated South. Charles Lloyd, a real California dreamer, traces the roots of his modern, free style and musical collaborations back to the blues of Memphis.

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

Apr 18, 2017

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.

Prison Songs: Remembering Merle Haggard

Apr 11, 2017

American Routes explores the music associated with outlaws and life behind bars, from "Ball and Chain" to "Jailhouse Rock," from Johnny Cash’s San Quentin show to Leadbelly’s "Midnight Special.” We revisit our 2000 interview with the late-Merle Haggard, and then talk to Aaron Neville about his experience with incarceration. Plus a visit to the "Wildest Show in the South"--the Angola, Louisiana Prison Rodeo.

Of Highways and Home

Apr 4, 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.

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.

Philly Soul Folks & Louisiana Swamp Pop

Mar 21, 2017

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 to 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

Mar 14, 2017

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.

Small Town Blues

Mar 7, 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. 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.

This week, we talk to the founding members of the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate DropsJustin Robinson, Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons started playing music together under the tutelage of legendary black old-time fiddler, Joe Thompson in his backyard shed. The Chocolate Drops came together to carry on the old time and country traditions from the Piedmont region in the Carolinas, but they wanted to do more than just play.

For our annual pre-Lenten bacchanal, we bring you classic Mardi Gras songs from the Crescent City and beyond. We travel to Nice, France - grand city on the Cote d'Azure - for a float parade that parodies American fast food assembly lines and French political scandals as stinky as local cheese; From there, on to the vintners village of Limoux, where free glasses of blanchette are never empty.

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