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.
American Routes celebrates Thanksgiving weekend with a sonic cornucopia from National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellows — recipients of America’s most prestigious award in folk & traditional arts. We’ll hear music and conversation from past Fellows: bluegrass picker Del McCoury, rockabilly Wanda Jackson, sacred steel guitarists, the Campbell Brothers, and late blues singer Koko Taylor. The 2016 Fellows, many performing live in Washington, include: Mardi Gras Indian Chief Monk Boudreaux, Irish accordionist Billy McComiskey and Mexican-American singer Artemio Posadas. Other awardees range from basketmakers in Kentucky and the Penobscot tribe in Maine, to traditional wind instrumentalists from South Dakota and Laos.
Tune in and hear a classic show from our archives that pays witness to over 150 years of guitar experience between the guests from our original 2007 program. The late Les Paul, Wizard of Waukesha, talked about his leap from taking up the instrument to inventing the guitar heard ‘round the world that still bears his name. And the late Delta guitarist and walking blues encyclopedia Honeyboy Edwards came by our studio back then to share memories of Robert Johnson, the 1927 flood, and recording for Alan Lomax along the way.
Tune in for the words and music of two storied artists of the Gulf South. First up, the Empress of Gulf Coast Soul, Barbara Lynn, of Beaumont, Texas. Ms. Lynn recalls her days as the Black Elvis, playing left-handed guitar and penning and recording her own first-person paeans of love lost. Accordion player, Belton Richard talks about bringing his mix of Cajun and country to dancehalls across the region and remembers his swamp pop days with the Musical Aces. Plus two hours of swampy blues, sultry country and more.
This week on American Routes, we’re here to Make American Routes Great Again! Stronger Together… in Songs & Stories. With just a few days left before relief or disbelief in our diverse democracy… we bring you ghosts of elections past and present… And the words of lofty American songmakers Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, Los Lobos and Bruce Springsteen. We’ll give a smidgeon of equal time to politicians from both parties whose sounds take to the podium and the stage: Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander on piano and Tim Kaine from Virginia on harmonica.