American Routes

Saturdays 9-11 p.m.
  • Hosted by Nick Spitzer

Hosted by Nick Spitzer, 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.

Ways to Connect

Memorial Day with the NEA National Heritage Fellows

May 23, 2017

American Routes celebrates Memorial Day weekend with a sonic feast from National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellows--recipients of America's most prestigious award in folk & traditional arts. We'll hear music and conversation from past Fellows: bluegrass picker Del McCoury, rockabilly Wanda Jackson, sacred steel guitarists, the Campbell Brothers, and late blues singer Koko Taylor. The 2016 Fellows included: Mardi Gras Indian Chief Monk Boudreaux, Irish accordionist Billy McComiskey and Mexican-American singer Artemio Posadas.

Los Angeles: Soundtrack for the Angels

May 16, 2017

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.

Mother’s Day

May 9, 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.

News Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals of Now and Yore

May 2, 2017

This week on American Routes, we're celebrating the 47th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with songs and interviews from the performers that make the festival happen. We hear from longtime local favorites, like chanteuse Topsy Chapman and funk drummer Herlin Riley...

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!

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