American Routes has been on the air for over a decade and it’s time to celebrate. Live from the House of Blues in New Orleans, Nick is joined on stage by Dr. Michael White and his Liberty Jazz Band, the young Cajun band Feufollet, and New Orleans jump blues legend Deacon John, along with several special guests.
Live from the Nation’s Capital, it’s the 2009 National Heritage Fellowship Concert. Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts recognizes citizens for their contributions to our nation’s traditional arts. We’ll hear from this year’s honorees, including zydeco’s Queen Ida, the gospel group The Birmingham Sunlights and Puerto Rican cuatro genius Edwin Colon Zayas. Plus visits with an array of previous National Heritage Fellows, from B.B. King to Earl Scruggs.
In which we visit with two pianists and men of music—each eccentric in his own right. Since the early ’70s, singer, songwriter and piano player Tom Waits has gone from anachronistic barfly and lounge singer to avant-vernacular iconoclast. Twentieth century jazz legend Dave Brubeck made his name by using odd, unconventional time signatures back when jazz was for dancing. And we radiate the 88s with some of the best piano music around.
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.
Earl Scruggs‘ legendary banjo playing, aptly named “Scruggs Style,” has left its mark on American pop culture and inspired generations of banjo players. In the late 1960s Scruggs bravely crossed musical boundaries, but his musical journey really started back at the beginnings of bluegrass. New Hampshire-born folk singer songwriter Tom Rush may have gone to Harvard and studied with a ballad scholar, but he still knows how to sing the blues. We’ll visit with Rush to learn more about Boston’s folk scene in the 1960s, his time as a radio DJ and his inspired approach to songwriting.