Every four years American Routes checks out songs and soundbites about politics and electioneering from both sides of the aisle. Hear the late WV Senator Robert Byrd on his fiddle playing as an instrument of political persuasion, and the same approach of Cajun office seeker Roland Cheramie from Louisiana bayou country—he goes door-to-door fiddling for votes. Hungarian ambassador to the US, Andras Simonyi, talks about the role of rock in lifting the Iron Curtain. The buttoned-down Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia was once a disco DJ, while Indiana’s Andy Ruff uses honky-tonk to support his anti-highway building campaign.
Explore the spiritual realm of New Orleans and South Louisiana through words and music on this weekend of All Souls’ and All Saints’. Our very own, Ninth-ward, R&B buddha, Fats Domino, drops by and unveils his personal spirituality. Visit the tomb of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau with author, anthropologist and believer Martha Ward. Plus, Creole artist, musician and traiteur Dennis Paul Williams discusses the mystical power of the zydeco and his own healing practices. And Meter man Charles Neville runs the old-school, uptown Voodoo down.
From the heart of French Louisiana to the streets of New York, American Routes is mixing it up this week with two giants of their genres. We visit with jazz great Dr. Lonnie Smith, whose mastery of the music is synonymous with his ever-present Hammond B3 organ. We drop down deep in the pocket with Lonnie, and get keyed in to the past and present of soul and jazz. And out on the Cajun and Creole prairies we drop in on zydeco accordionist and Grammy award winner Terrance Simien. Plus jazz, blues and country tunes from keyboard masters of all kinds.
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.
This week we meet with two practitioners of the art of improvisation. Bela Fleck joins us for a conversation about banjo traditions and experimentation in bluegrass, jazz and classical music. Then we’ll head to the studio for a jazz breakdown by New Orleans master percussionist Jason Marsalis.