Visit with Arkansas rockabilly hero Sleepy LaBeef, the human jukebox. Sleepy knows several thousand of songs by heart, but he still loves the Southern gospel numbers of his youth. And we’ll talk with gospel singer and scholar Horace Boyer about the roots of the music.
This American Routes celebrates the blues by veering off Highway 61 to examine the east coast songster tradition and west coast/Kansas City jump blues. Maryland-based guitarist Warner Williams lets his guitar do most of the talking as he moves through a live set of Piedmont blues. Jump blues king and Creole chameleon, Deacon John, talks about his career as both a New Orleans sideman and fronting his own band, the Ivories. Plus great music from T-Bone Walker, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt and more.
A visit with legendary bandsmen including roots rocker Robbie Robertson and California jazz bandleader Johnny Otis. Robertson was a prime mover behind The Band, who, along with the Grateful Dead and others, defined the image and sound of American rock with folk roots in the 1960s and ’70s. Johnny Otis shaped the West Coast jump boogie sound, working with artists such as Jackie Wilson, Big Mama Thornton, and Etta James. Also a trip back in time to the Dew Drop Inn, a halcyon New Orleans nightclub which also served as a hotel, eatery, barber shop and post office. We’ll hear about one of the Dew Drop’s most infamous characters, female impersonator and R & B singer Patsy Vidalia.
Jazz may have been born here, but by the 1950s the music of choice in New Orleans was rhythm & blues and local talent topped the charts with songs like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “The Fat Man” and “Working in the Coalmine”. We’ll talk to many key figures in New Orleans R&B, from hitmakers like Lloyd Price, Dr. John, and Aaron Neville and producers Allen Toussaint and Harold Battiste, to bandleader Dave Bartholomew and musicians like drummer Earl Palmer. Plus music recorded in New Orleans’ legendary J&M Studios by Little Richard, Fats Domino and Professor Longhair, and funk, jazz, pop and soul along the way.