American Routes

Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m.
  • Hosted by Nick Spitzer

American Routes is a two-hour weekly excursion into American music, spanning eras and genres—roots rock and soul, blues and country, jazz, gospel and beyond.

Chris Smither
American Routes

Each week, American Routes Shortcuts offers a sneak peak into the upcoming American Routes episode. This week, New Orleans Bluesman Chris Smither plays a live show in his current home- Western Massachusetts.

Song Makers and Song Takers

Jan 17, 2017

This week on American Routes, we hear from great songwriters and performers and those who emulate them. Original songs can take on new form and meaning when interpreted by different voices, and we'll hear some of those renditions and transformations this week. We'll hear the rocking Southern sound of the Drive-By Truckers covering Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles doing Hank Williams. Our guest William Bell, from Memphis, will tell us all about his music being played by the Byrds, and bluesman Albert King.

Terrance Simien
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at the upcoming episode. Zydeco Accordionist and Creole culture advocate Terrance Simien has been a world traveler with his south la music. Terrance Simien brought country zydeco to the public with the popular urban New Orleans film, the big easy in the late 1980s. 20 years later, Terrance’s advocacy was responsible for the creation of the Grammy award category, for best zydeco or Cajun album. And he won the Grammy that year, for this recording: Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, Live Worldwide.

Keys and Squeeze

Jan 10, 2017

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.

Modern Tradition

Jan 3, 2017

The singer-songwriter Ben Harper has been on the scene since the early ‘90s, but has more recently been digging deeper into the blues with the legendary harpman Charlie Musselwhite.  We’ll talk with Ben about the musical journey from his family’s music store to what he calls his “graduation” album.  Then an in-studio conversation with a guitarist who has played with Sun Ra and now plays banjo with Preservation Hall, New Orleans’ own Carl LeBlanc.

"How Many Roads…?” Bob Dylan’s Back Pages

Dec 27, 2016

Bob Dylan’s songs are part of American consciousness, with sources and symbols drawing from old-time country and folk, blues and ballads, ancient and modern poetry, the beauties and absurdities of life, love and loss.  His contributions to the big river of songs have grown and been recognized worldwide.  The young man from Hibbing, Minnesota, is now an elder… a Nobel Laureate; but his listeners didn’t need that or any such weathervane to prize Bob Dylan. It was, and is, always in his words and voice,  music and memory where fans and friends found inspiration.

Bob Dorough
American Routes

Arkansas-born singer, arranger and composer Bob Dorough wrote bebop and modern jazz tunes. If those don’t ring a bell, how about “Conjunction Junction, What's your Function”? Dorough is the wit behind the songs in the popular 1970s  TV series, "School House Rock."  A few years back, host Nick Spitzer spoke to Bob about how he came to work with Miles Davis around the holidays.

A Sonic Season of Light & Evergreens

Dec 20, 2016
Santa's Second Line
Chuck Siler

Our “Sonic Season” includes Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day.  We celebrate with New Orleans Zion Harmonizers live in our studio. Woody Guthrie sings a Hanukkah song while Bob Dylan tells of  “Three Angels.” We interview a black Santa about his Christmas days in Vietnam, and Bob Dorough sings “Blue Xmas,” the song he wrote for Miles Davis. Meanwhile, life in America goes on... in hopes and dreams that bring light to the darkness…

Rock and Soul from Memphis to Muscle Shoals

Dec 13, 2016

This week on American Routes, we talk to Barbara Sims about her time working at Sun Studios as a publicist and promoter, and the search for the next Elvis. Then we dig into the archives for classic interviews with Sun’s founder Sam Phillips, Elvis’ sidemen DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore and the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Then we head over to North Alabama for a conversation on love, God and music with soul and disco siren Candi Staton.

Allen Toussaint
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at the upcoming show. This week, we celebrate New Orleans piano man, and producer extraordinaire, Allen Toussaint who died last November. Back in September 2005, just weeks after Katrina, Nick Spitzer interviewed Toussaint at his New York hotel.