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.

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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.

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.

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