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.

Rockin’ Behind the Iron Curtain: To Russia With Love

20 hours ago

During the Cold War, the U.S. State Department started sending jazz musicians overseas with the tactical aim of using their hot licks to thaw relations with Eastern Bloc countries. Jazz great Dave Brubeck recalls how Louis Armstrong, a.k.a. “Ambassador Satch,” won international hearts and minds with his trumpet. Band member Arvell Shaw saw Armstrong literally disarm Russian guards in East Berlin. Meanwhile, fear of nuclear war with the Soviets infiltrated American popular consciousness resulting in gospel, bluegrass and pop odes to and protests against atomic weapons.

American Routes Shortcuts: Trombone Shorty

Dec 8, 2017
Trombone Shorty
American Routes

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we talk to New Orleans senior statesmen Trombone Shorty, who began playing music in Treme at age four. Trombone Shorty chose to be a musical journeyman instead of seeking to attend the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. Since then, the 31-year-old has brought his distinctive style of New Orleans music all over the world.

Trombone Shorty… Casts a Long Shadow

Dec 5, 2017

American Routes Shortcuts: Allen Toussaint

Dec 1, 2017
Allen Toussaint
American Routes

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we celebrate New Orleans piano man and producer extraordinaire, Allen Toussaint, who passed away in November 2015. Back in September 2005, just weeks after Katrina, Nick Spitzer interviewed Toussaint at his New York hotel. He was dressed impeccably as ever, with suit and sandals, plus colors that matched from socks to tie to hankie. In a few days he’d headline the Big Apple for the Big Easy fundraiser at Madison Square Garden.

Remembering Allen Toussaint: A Saint For All Seasons

Nov 28, 2017

We celebrate the songmaker, piano “professor” and producer from New Orleans who passed away suddenly in November 2015. A beloved Creole gentleman, Allen Toussaintwas a hometown hero and giant on the American music scene. He wrote over 800 songs and produced regional and national hit records such as “Java” (Al Hirt), “Mother-in-Law” (Ernie K-Doe), “I Like it Like That” (Chris Kenner), “It’s Raining” (Irma Thomas), “Yes We Can” (Lee Dorsey) among others. Toussaint worked closely with the Meters, Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello.

American Routes Shortcuts: Sam Moore

Nov 17, 2017
Sam Moore
American Routes

Sam Moore and Dave Prater burned through the late 1960s as the dynamic soul duet singers, famous for their stage moves and harmonies. The late Dave Prater was a Georgia country boy; Sam grew up in Miami. What they shared was an upbringing in gospel music, the sacred foundation for soul that found its way stylistically into their upbeat hits. But it’s also in the voicing of the ballads. Sam tells about meeting Dave and forming soul duo Sam & Dave.

Country-Soul Crossover

Nov 14, 2017

This week we are visited by two men with legendary voices, in country and soul, famous for their duets and more. First, we revisit our interview with the late George Jones. From the cotton patches of East Texas, Jones was one of the most distinctive voices in the history of country music. Known as "the King of Broken Hearts," his hits through the '60s and '70s remain the high-water mark for country ballads.  Sam Moore, formerly of Sam & Dave, recalls his early days as a gospel singer in Miami and his conversion to pop.

American Routes Shortcuts: The Tedeschi Trucks Band

Nov 10, 2017
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi
American Routes

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we feature Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Susan Tedeschi grew up outside of Boston in a family of grocery store owners. Derek Trucks was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, listening to the Allman Brothers, his uncle Butch Trucks’ band. Worlds apart, Susan and Derek each honed their chops at local blues jams and pursued musical careers destined to collide. Susan attended the Berklee School of Music, toured with the Dead, and released eight solo albums.

Rhythm & Blues into Rock & Roll

Nov 7, 2017

We pay tribute to the late Fats Domino with our favorite of the New Orleans piano man’s Imperial releases. And we hear the Fat Man’s reflective side in a rare 2007 conversation with him about escaping Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters and how his faith saw him through. Veteran blues harp player Billy “Boy” Arnold tells of South Side Chicago’s early rhythm & blues scene, recording with Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino’s role in pushing black music across the color line into what would become rock & roll.

American Routes Shortcuts: Jerry Wexler

Nov 3, 2017
Jerry Wexler
American Routes

The late Jerry Wexler was born into a Jewish working class family in New York City in 1918. A combination of good ears, business sense, and chutzpa took Jerry from Manhattan window washer to the top of the R&B charts, producing artists like Ray Charles. Before his career as a record producer, Jerry Wexler did stints at BMI music publishing, Billboard Magazine, where as a writer he coined the term rhythm and blues.

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