In addition to American Routes’ weekly mix of enduring and eclectic musical styles, we interview old- and new-school alternative country artists. Willis Alan Ramsey, the cult musical hero from Austin, Texas who wrote “Muskrat Love,” released one very successful country folk album in the ’70s — then all but disappeared from the music scene. Neko Case, a former punk drummer turned country chanteuse, serenades us in the studio, and talks about her atmospheric recent album “Blacklisted.”
American Routes is dedicated to radio as a medium, bringing you great vernacular music from across the landscape. We also like to hear the voices of radio’s fellow travelers like: the resonant octogenarian, hipster, and “word jazz” man, Ken Nordine up close in his Chicago studio; mystery novelist, songwriter and radio head, Kinky Friedman of Texas; St. Louis’ Antique Radio Museum — home to 10,000 old radios — and the self-proclaimed “radio addict” Jasper Giardina who collects them. That plus a present day music mix designed to glorify the past and future of radio.
For too long classical and popular music have existed in different worlds, and on this American Routes we’ll take a look at where those worlds have actually collided: how high art music crosses over with the folk, jazz, and avant-garde forms. Music from George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin, Stephen Foster, Mark O’Connor and Steve Reich. Plus the adventures of 19th century New Orleans pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk. It’s roots with strings on American Routes.
It’s the time of the season when we gather together to celebrate the harvest… and maybe reflect on the work we’ve done—all in words and music. It’s also getting cold, and it’s a good time to be indoors by the radio to hear autumnal sounds and colors in music. Our guests include bluegrass traditionalist Del McCoury, who speaks about his days on the farm and logging the forests of Pennsylvania, as well as his bluesy “high lonesome” sound. Popular singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant reflects on the role of music in the seasons of her life and tells about her recent recording “The House Carpenter’s Daughter.” Plus sounds and wiffs of the “angels’ share” from the barrel room of the Old Forrester Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. We’ll post the scratch and sniff soon.