American Routes celebrates music and musicians from New Orleans, Mississippi and French Louisiana. Recorded live at New Orleans’ venerable (1906) Civic Theatre, the show features New Orleans clarinetist Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band with the definitive Creole music born in the Crescent City: traditional jazz. White is joined by fellow NEA Heritage recipient, Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet and the influential band of the French Louisiana cultural revival BeauSoleil (‘good sunshine’). The downhome blues of guitarist and wordslinger Little Freddie King of McComb, Mississippi kicks off the show and the spirit-filled gospel of Electrifying Crown Seekers from New Orleans’ west bank take us home. Our special guest is beloved jazz vocalist Topsy Chapman, also famed locally as the first black cocktail waitress on Bourbon Street in the 1960s.
American Routes follows the journeys made by folklorist Alan Lomax as he documented the diversity of the traditional music of America, in the face of what he felt was the increased threat by popular “monoculture.” We’ll look into Lomax’s work as a sound recordist, cultural theorist, radio host and above all, shaper of 20th century pop culture through his discoveries.
A conversation with a man of many talents: songwriter, actor, boxer, military man, among many titles, Kris Kristofferson, reflecting on his life in music, his songwriting craft, and the nature of gratitude for his life’s adventures.
While they don’t all have blue eyes, the white soul and swamp pop guys and gals from Philadelphia and South Louisiana have created distinctive regional sounds of national significance. In Philadelphia, we sample soul roots of the famed band Hall & Oates; and learn from John Oates that — despite years of pop music, big hair and synthesizers — at heart he is also a folkie into to country blues and flat-picked guitar a la Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt… which he plays for us live! The angelic-voiced Daryl Hall, on the other hand is more disciple of the Temptations who we’ll hear along with the Orlons, The O’Jays and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. In South Louisiana, the simmering pot of music that draws on Cajun, R&B, soul and country ends up as a tasty dish called Swamp Pop. Johnnie Allan (Guillot) is a Cajun Swamp Pop chef extraordinaire with hits like “South to Louisiana” and a version of the “Promised Land” played on the French accordion. He’s surrounded by music from Earl King, Cookie & the Cupcakes, and Slim Harpo. Tasty indeed!
Whether you’re spinning 45s, 78s, or LPs, you’ll discover gold in the vinyl this week on American Routes. We check in with the record label dedicated to resurrecting lost sounds for the digital age, Dust-to-Digital. For some soul sides, we hear from Gabriel Roth, founder of Daptone Records, who’s re-imaging classic soul with the band Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. We’ll also talk to the man who got the Bossa Nova on record and started the Impulse label, jazz producer Creed Taylor. Then it’s off to Ville Platte for a conversation with Cajun recordman Floyd Soileau of Swallow Records. Plus tunes to get the jukebox shaking!
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