American Routes | Nashville Public Radio

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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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

Creoles and Cowgirls

May 29, 2018

We hit up Preservation Hall in the French Quarter for a potent dose of trad jazz, as bandleader and fourth-generation Creole musician Charlie Gabriel tells of his Caribbean roots, jazz funerals, and New Orleans’ hybrid rhythms. Then we head to the Lonestar state to hear the reworking of jazz into Texas swing, as played by the Quebe Sisters. The fiddling siblings tell of their sheltered upbringing outside Ft. Worth and their fiery baptism into western swing.

Memorial Day with the NEA National Heritage Fellows

May 22, 2018

This Memorial Day, we celebrate the artists and artisans keeping American roots cultures alive. Every year since 1982 the National Endowment for the Arts has presented Heritage fellowships— America’s highest honor in “folk & traditional arts.” We hear music from past award recipients including swamp boogie chanteuse Carol Fran and bluegrass crooner Del McCoury.

Blues, Old, New & Beyond

May 15, 2018

We trace the musical DNA and psychic aura of the blues from its Delta roots to Chicago’s electric pioneers, across a patchwork of regional styles and modern day innovators. In an archival interview we talk with blues rockers the Black Keys of Akron, Ohio, about defying genre, eschewing nostalgia, and the blues progenitors who blurred labels like primitive and avant-garde.

The Killer, the Thriller, and the Chiller

May 1, 2018

From backwoods Louisiana to Beale Street, from hellfire to honky tonk, we trace the meteoric rise, fall and rebound of rocknroll’s most wayward son—Jerry Lee Lewis. We talk to the Killer about his hits, his misses and being the last man standing of rock’s originators. Jerry Lee’s sister Frankie Jean Lewis, a.k.a. the Chiller, gives us a tour of the family’s homestead in Ferriday, La. Bluesman Hezekiah Early shares memories of Haney’s Big House, the Chitlin’ Circuit nightclub where underage Jerry Lee sneaked in to hear boogie woogie. Drummer J.M.

Celebrating the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Apr 24, 2018

This week on American Routes, we’re celebrating the long-running 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, as well as perennial visitors and jazz titans, McCoy Tyner and Sonny Rollins.

Sisters, Brothers, Lovers & Others

Apr 17, 2018

Exploring the musical ties that bind, we spin platters from our favorite harmonizing pairs and family affairs. We map the careers of West Texas-troubadour Jimmie Dale Gilmore of the Flatlanders and So-Cal rocker Dave Alvin of the Blasters and trace the events that led to their cosmic collaboration.

Festival International de Louisiane

Apr 10, 2018

This holiday weekend  American Routes  boogies down to bayou country to catch live music at Festival International, a showcase of French music from southwest Louisiana and the wider Francophone world along with blues, Chicano nouveau and swamp pop. For the 31st annual festival, we hear female Cajun supergroup  Bonsoir, Catin  tear up the stage; bluesman  Corey Harris  ring out the Mississippi Delta’s West African roots; and blue-eyed soul from swamp pop legends  Johnnie Allan ,  T.K. Hulin , and  G.G. Shinn .

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