Body, soul and Earth are rejuvenated at this special time of year when winter turns to spring. Spend some of it with Virginia-based gospel group the Paschall Brothers who perform an in-studio, a cappella set. Then meet Charlie Louvin, who along with brother Ira made up the Louvin Brothers, famous for their familial harmonies as much as for their hellfire and brimstone tunes. And take a ride with Shreveport, Louisiana’s Santa Maria Produce Company in their trucks covered by hand-painted reproductions of da Vinci’s Last Supper and other religious iconography.
We’re seeking out the “American” in American music with two eclectic artists: Elvis Costello and Carla Bley. For British songman Elvis Costello, American music has shaped much of his musical creativity. We’ll hear about his love of American country and blues, his musical upbringing in Liverpool, and his current fascination with P.T. Barnum. For the inventive and eccentric jazz composer Carla Bley, the National Anthem proves an unlikely source of inspiration. Bley brings wry humor to a conversation about the challenges of writing for her very big bands, her early days as a cigarette girl in NYC jazz clubs, and why America might be famous for baked beans.
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock joins us to talk about keeping his hardcore jazz credentials while breaking the pop barrier with “Watermelon Man,” and recalls famous associations with Miles and more, including those on his recent Record of the Year, River: the Joni Letters. Plus the four faces of New Orleans’ Mount Rushmore—Art, Aaron, Charles and Cyril—the Neville Brothers. Since 1954, when Brother Art hit with the ultimate carnival classic “Mardi Gras Mambo,” the Nevilles have been on the scene, solo or as a group. We’ll hear their legacy of soul, funk and R & B as the brothers tell us how it all came to pass, and how the legacy lives on in the next generation.
J.J. Cale came up in the clubs of Tulsa, Oklahoma playing everything from Western Swing to Rock n’ Roll. He even wrote songs that became hits for his friend Eric Clapton. But it was in the recording studio where he found his true calling. We’ll talk with J.J. about his career as a guitar man, songwriter and studio wizard. Then we visit with up-and-coming Creole fiddler and accordionist Cedric Watson and learn about his journey within the world of French and Caribbean music.
Think all the glamour is in Hollywood? This week on American Routes we’re going to the movies. John Sayles, writer-director of such classic films as “Lonestar” and “Matewan,” talks about how he uses music to evoke emotion. French Canadian director Andre Gladu shares his documentary vision and stories of following music along the Mississippi and French Louisiana. Plus composer Thomas Newman takes us behind the scenes of Altman’s “The Player,” Disney’s “Wall-E” and more.