Tune into music dealing with death and rebirth, loss and resolution, for All Saints and All Souls Days, November 1 and 2. Music transcends the world of the living, as we listen to a jazz funeral for sax player Harold Dejan in the streets of New Orleans. Plus preacher, mortician, and amazing soul singer Solomon Burke tells his tale, and a visit to a local cemetery to see how the dead are honored this time of year. Includes music in the spirit from Pops Staples, King Oliver, Bob Dylan and Ralph Stanley.
We’ll name some names with songs about “Corina” and “Mona Lisa” from artists like Bo Diddley and Fats Waller. Our guest is a 22-year-old blueswoman who’s out to make a name for herself, Shemekia Copeland. Chuck Berry’s pianist Johnnie Johnson will take us behind the scenes for the making of their first hit “Maybellene.” And we’ll step up to the bar to meet a Baltimore man who legally changed his name to American Joe. Plus the legend of outlaw Staggerlee.
Baton Rouge bluesman Henry Gray, composer of “I’m a Lucky, Lucky Man,” plays piano and tells tales of life’s downs and ups from humble beginnings to musical success. Guitarist and singer John Hammond Jr. was born into an urbane East Coast family with music business connections, but chose the country blues as a way of life — and considers himself lucky for it. We’ll light a lucky candle of our own on visit to a local shop for spiritual items, as we ask you to listen for the feel good music from Hank Williams, the Staples Singers, Tom Waits and more.
We travel the New England soundsacpe from rural dances to urban folk clubs, from Maine truckdriving songs to regional rock. Also music from Boston Irish and Italians, French Quebecois and Cape Verdean Portuguese. Plus stories from eel fishermen and cranberry farmers, urban gardeners and country fiddlers. Massachusetts-raised troubadour Jonathan Richman stops in from the road to converse, and author Peter Guralnick reminisces about how the blues found him in New England.
The sound of rock continues to dominate the musical spirit of America. Loud and anthemic, many artists eventually come to and pass through rock ‘n’ roll from country, folk, R&B, even gospel. American Routes takes a look at three roots musicians who rock: Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna veteran Jorma Kaukonen talks about his recent acoustic work, Texas trio The Flatlanders (Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely) get into their electric side, and New Orleans’ own Lloyd Price shows how his R&B roots helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll.