It’s a blues and country showdown on American Routes with two instrumental showmen. Jerry Douglas is a master of the dobro, and a favorite session man and band member for so many musicians: from Allison Krauss to Elvis Costello. We’ll talk to Jerry about his recent project, which leads him beyond bluegrass to New Orleans. Then, a visit with the acrobatic bluesman Guitar Shorty, who shares some history on his times traveling the Chitlin Circuit.
Meet two piano professors from the South with two differing styles. First up, from Macon, GA, Chuck Leavell has played in a few of Rock’s most iconic bands, from the Allman Brothers to the Rolling Stones. And while piano might be his day job, he’s also a keeper of a Georgia forest and an honorary forest ranger! We talk to Chuck about his love of the keys and the trees. Then, it’s a lesson in New Orleans funk a la keyboard with Jon Cleary, who breaks down the elements and reveals the Latin tinge to New Orleans piano favorites.
This week on American Routes, we’ll talk to folk-rocker, songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson. An advocate for British lyric and music tradition in new settings with refashioned traditional songs and stories, Thompson evolved from playing in the seminal folk-rock band, Fairport Convention to his present day role as an in-demand guitarist and songwriter. Then we’ll visit with accordion-man Zachary Richard about growing up in French-speaking south Louisiana but needing to go to France and Quebec to realize the significance of the Cajun culture into which he was born. Richard’s recent “Le Fou” may be the first Americana record made largely in the French of his homeland: south Louisiana’s Cajun country.
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, along with his sons, bravely crossed musical boundaries but his musical journey really started back at the beginnings of bluegrass, playing with Bill Monroe and later, Lester Flatt. We’ll talk to Earl and his sons, Randy and Gary, about performing on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium and why he doesn’t need to crack jokes about the banjo. 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.