American Routes Abroad: Vernacular Cultural Diplomacy in Germany
December 10th, 2013 ~ Nick Spitzer has been in Germany in December, talking New Orleans culture and recovery and vernacular cultural diplomacy. On December 6, he spoke at the University of the Ruhr’s symposium “After the Storm: The Cultural Politics of Hurricane Katrina” in Bochum Germany. The title of his presentation was “‘No Waterline on Culture’: Agency, Continuity and Creativity in Postdiluvian New Orleans.” On December 13, Spitzer speaks at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) in Berlin: “Vernacular Cultural Diplomacy — American Routes from Berlin to Beijing with Jazz, Cowboys & Cajuns.”
Says Spitzer, Routes radio host and professor of American studies and anthropology at Tulane University, “While much of the world loves the deep, diverse music and cultures of the US, many Americans have overlooked these great contributions of style and performance. After a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, and the on-going catastrophes of economic and political gridlock, a growing number of Americans are turning to ethnic, regional, and local musical expressions for a sense of community development, cultural economy and authentic future. In diplomacy, we have found that vernacular cultural expression in music leaps human boundaries in ways that support understanding on a more intimate scale.”
Spitzer will play historic interview clips detailing Louis Armstrong’s famed early ’60s international tours with pianist Dave Brubeck, and from his interview with Armstrong’s bassist Arvell Shaw recalling how Satchmo’s fame allowed him to cross from East Berlin to West Berlin with unprecedented ease during his historic Cold War visit to East Germany in 1965. Additionally, he’ll explore audio and images regarding the role of community-based cultural expression in current tours of New Orleans jazz, Louisiana Cajun music and Montana cowboys to China places from Beijing and Shanghai to Inner Mongolia and Sichuan Province.
The ICD is free and open to the public, though seating is limited. For information and RSVP, call 30.2360-7680.
American Routes: Songs and Stories from the Road
American Routes is celebrating its 12th anniversary on the air with the release of American Routes: Songs and Stories From the Road, a double CD collection of favorite interviews and stories from a decade of programs. From mambo kings and country sweethearts to cool pianomen and sidewalk steppers, you’ll find the iconic mix of voices and music you hear each week on American Routes. East Coast songmen Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller reminisce about their years as songwriters for Elvis and others. Dolly Parton shares her love of east Tennessee while Tom Waits talks about his various inspirations, including his kids’ toys. Young Cajun band Feufollet explains why Cajun music is cool despite what their friends think. Many of the interviews on Songs and Stories capture the voices of beloved musicians who have passed on, including Jerry Garcia, Rufus Thomas, Tito Puente and Nina Simone. Join us as we visit the Antique Radio Museum in St. Louis. Spend a day at Sea Breeze, North Carolina, to learn about the origins of beach music. Then, we’ll jump with the Treme Sidewalk Steppers and Rebirth Brass Band for a post-Katrina second line.
After starting back in 1998 broadcasting on only 7 stations, American Routes is now heard by nearly 400,000 listeners on 195 outlets across the country. With 10 years of programs in the archive, it was a challenge to choose from the many interviews we’ve done over the years. And with exciting programs to come, we look forward to even more miles with the radio turned up. For more information on American Routes: Songs and Stories From the Road, click here!