We’re hauling out the vinyl and giving it a spin this week on American Routes. First, we’ll revisit our 2005 interview with the late Jerry Wexler, who produced many soul and R&B hits on Atlantic Records. Then we’ll go down into Maryland record connoisseur Joe Bussard’s basement to sample his wall-to-wall collection of rare blues and country 78s, and the massive sound system to play them. Also, a visit in Shreveport, Louisiana with record producer Stan Lewis to learn about his days producing pop, blues and R&B on the Jewel and Paula labels. Plus Bird Brain, the legendary Shreveport DJ who “broke” the records in the local black community… and nationally.
Have you ever sailed the Mississippi on a riverboat? Heard a calliope bounce notes off a barge? Caught the freight train boogie? This week on American Routes, we’re riding the rails and sailing sails with words and music dedicated to two old forms of transport. We’ll visit with Captain Doc Hawley, a calliope player on the “Natchez” in New Orleans to find out what it takes to make a boat sing. And a conversation with singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle, who knows a thing or two about trains. Plus music about rivers, railcars and riding around.
Sacred steel guitarist Robert Randolph has gathered together the leading players of the genre for a recent recording, paying tribute to the past, and covering tunes outside the cannon. We’ll speak with him and one of his fellow Slide Brothers, Calvin Cooke. Then a conversation with jazz adventurist Yusef Lateef about his musical mentors and inspirations.
We’re hitting the streets this week to celebrate – what else? – Mardi Gras! We’ll meet parade float builders, visit the Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme, discover a skull and bone gang and baby dolls, follow Mardi Gras Indians and learn why flamingos flock to Baton Rouge this time of year.