We trace stardom back to its source, traversing the roots and routes that led small town musicians to national fame. Pop icon Boz Scaggs and the late Cajun honky-tonk man Jimmy C. Newman took very different paths to the stage but carried with them the sounds they grew up hearing. Boz Scaggs achieved mainstream success with his own platinum records as well as his work with Steve Miller and Duane Allman. We talk to him about his 60+ years performing on the road and how he came into his own by reconnecting with the blues he heard as a kid in “Nowhere, Texas.” Then, we remember the late Jimmy C. Newman, who took the sounds of French Louisiana to the Grand Ole Opry and put Cajun music and culture on the map. Son Gary Newman, producer Joel Savoy and musician Kelli Jones tell of his legacy and their tribute album, Farewell, Alligator Man. Plus, we trace Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” back to its Cajun origins, served up with tunes from Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and Professor Longhair.
Photo by Chris Phelps.
Traveling at the speed of 45 RPM, we sink into the record grooves of some of our favorite songs and talk to the studio wizards who produced them. First stop is Nashville, home to Music Row as well as Easy Eye Sound, the recording studio of Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach. We talk with Auerbach about his journey in music, from hearing vinyl on his parents’ turntable in Akron, Ohio, to cutting records with some of Nashville’s legendary session players. Then we head to French Louisiana to chat with Cajun music maven Joel Savoy of Valcour Records about documenting and expanding the region’s traditional sounds. Heading east to the Fertile Crescent of American music and our hometown, we remember New Orleans’ Harold Battiste, who started All For One Records—the first African American owned label in the South—and arranged hits for Sam Cooke, Dr. John and Sonny & Cher, among others. Plus, more jukebox gold from Little Anthony & the Imperials, June Carter and the Lovin’ Spoonful.
We take a deep dive into the vaults of Blue Note Records, the independent label that helped put artists like Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Jimmy Smith on the map. Flagbearer of trad jazz, bebop and the cool school, Blue Note is still at it after 79 years and has expanded its wheelhouse to include vocalists like Norah Jones, Ryan Adams and Van Morrison. We talk with producer extraordinaire and Blue Note president Don Was about the label’s past and new directions. And we confab with record maven Michael Cuscuna about digging through Blue Note’s back catalog and giving life to unreleased and out-of-print masterpieces. Plus, we hear from Aaron Neville, Jason Moran and Lonnie Smith about their part in the legendary label’s history. It’s a parade of jazz, old and new, borrowed and blue… and then some!
Happy July Fourth! Add some sizzle to your backyard barbecue with hot licks from the stage as we road trip from New Orleans to Butte, Montana. We start off at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter for vocal fireworks from gospel quartet the Blind Boys of Alabama and Crescent City soul singer Irma Thomas, both backed by the mojo masters of Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Then we wind our way across the Great Plains to the Montana Folk Festival for a picnic of down home sounds by Western swing darlings the Quebe Sisters, Cajun accordionist Bruce Daigrepont, reggae veteran Clinton Fearon and rockabilly guitarist Albert Lee. From Big River to Big Sky, the music is really cooking and you’re cordially invited to tune in!
All songs in Hour 2 are live from the 2017 Montana Folk Festival, courtesy of Montana Public Radio.