Facing the hot season head on, we hit up juke joints, dancehalls and folk festivals to get our fill of hot licks from blues and bluegrass musicians, oldtimers and newcomers alike. We talk shop with Mississippi Hill Country bluesman Cedric Burnside about playing music alongside his grandfather R.L. Burnside, finding his voice and translating old school sounds for a new generation. Then we head to the Montana Folk Festival to hear the bluegrass bonafides of ShadowGrass and talk with the young Appalachian upstarts about balancing their tour schedule with junior high school. Plus, fife and drum music from Otha Turner & the Afrosippi Allstars, surrealist blues rock a la Captain Beefheart and old-time and rockabilly picking from Doc Watson.
For this special American Routes program, we follow the lives of two giants of jazz: Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. From their humble North Carolina beginnings to their triumphs on the world stage, we’ll trace their individual and inspired paths to creativity. And we’ll visit with the musicians who played with the greats, including McCoy Tyner and Pharoah Sanders, and the next generation, TS Monk and Ravi Coltrane.
We hit the open road to hear tales of adventure and woe from honky-tonkers and hobos, train-hoppers and busking bohemians. En route we talk with Washington folk singer Brandi Carlile, who dropped out of high school to cut it as a touring musician, and New Orleans’ Meschiya Lake, about her journey from circus performer to jazz chanteuse. Driving on in search of mythic America, we hear the voices of its discontents: Woody Guthrie, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Wilco and Pops Staples. Plus, we “Ramble On” with Lucinda Williams before coming down with a case of “Travelin’ Blues” from Jimmie Rodgers. By planes, trains and automobiles, we journey across our country’s musical landscape with stories from the road.