In this special program Nick Spitzer uncovers the music and cultural traditions of Los Angeles: from Hollywood to neighborhood. Nick travels across the City of Angels to hear from L.A. legends — including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and songwriter Randy Newman — and explores musical cultures with Cambodian-born rapper praCh Ly, Louisiana Creole zydeco accordionist T-Lou, and East L.A.‘s Ersi Arvizu. Plus conversations and music from Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos, R & B saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, and rockabilly guitarist Glen Glenn. And along the way we visit L.A. musical landmarks — including the famed Capitol Records recording studios.
Take a two-hour trip to Music City, U.S.A. as we hit the high-class and the low-class joints. Nashville has been a hub of playing and recording country music for over 50 years, while also generating a steady stream of regional R & B hits. Come backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and meet the people who make it work, from ushers and announcers to long-time cast members Porter Wagoner, Marty Stuart and others. Pop into the venerable Gruhn’s Guitars, grab a bite at the Pancake Pantry and pay respects at country music’s finest final resting place, Spring Hill Cemetery.
The musical and cultural meanderings of the Mississippi River, from exploration and trade to romance. Jazz, ragtime, and levee work-songs along with blues, rockabilly, gospel, and country. Guests include the late Memphis soul man Rufus Thomas and ethnomusicologist David Evans, speaking about influential Delta guitarist Charley Patton. Also, we visit a river barge pilot as he rolls on the river.
Back to the beach with “beach music” from both coasts. We’ll talk with California surf guitarist Dick Dale, go lobstering in Maine, and visit Sea Breeze, a historically African-American beach in North Carolina. With music by Charles Mingus, James Brown and Astrud Gilberto.
This Fourth of July, American Routes celebrates our nation’s birthday with two live concerts of all-American music from the French Quarter in New Orleans. We’ll stop by the Ponderosa Stomp, dedicated to the “unsung heroes of rock ‘n’ roll” for a good dose of rockabilly, soul, country and R&B classics. Then it’s down the street to Preservation Hall, where bluegrass masters the Del McCoury Band mix it up with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. So fire up the grill, pull out your lawn chair, and turn up the radio for American Routes.