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.

Johnny Allan
American Routes

Each Week, American Routes bring you Shortcuts, a sneak peak at our upcoming show. Johnnie Allan is a Swamp Pop legend, born John Allen Guillot, a sharecropper’s son. His mother and grandfather were musicians who played with family member Joe Falcon, on the first Cajun record in 1928. At 13, Johnnie Allan formed a Cajun Band. Later, he joined accordionist Lawrence Walker’s band on steel guitar.

Philly Soul Folks & Louisiana Swamp Pop

Mar 21, 2017

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 live for us!

Shannon Powell
American Routes

Each week, American Routes Shortcuts offers a taste of the upcoming American Routes episode. This week, it’s Timekeepers: drummers and rhythm makers from New Orleans and beyond. Today, Shannon Powell is live in the studio. He showed us how it’s done on the drums and chatted about music in church, growing up in the Treme.

Timekeepers: The Art of Drumming

Mar 14, 2017

This week on American Routes, we’re keeping the beat with drummers and rhythm makers across the genres: everyone from Sun Records’ Rockabilly drummer JM Van Eaton, to jazz percussionist Ben Riley, who had to keep up with the unconventional rhythms of Thelonious Monk. In between, we listen live in-studio to New Orleans’ King of Treme, Shannon Powell, whose music takes us from the church to the streets and beyond.

Small Town Blues

Mar 7, 2017

Wilco frontman, Jeff Tweedy tells of the impact on his songs of growing up in the blue collar town, Belleville, Illinois. Music became his creative outlet in high school and lead to founding the seminal Americana band, Uncle Tupelo. We hear from Jeff in his Chicago studio "The Loft" about the emergence of Wilco and the place that making music has in his life, including work with Woody Guthrie's lyrics and producing records with Mavis Staples.

Rhiannon Giddens
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. The Carolina Chocolate Drop began as a seminal African American group that revived the old time string band tradition of the Piedmont where black performers were formative from the 19th century onward. The Chocolate Drops started out as the Sankofa Strings, after meeting at the black banjo gathering in Boone, North Carolina, 2005. They evolved over the next decade. Rhiannon Giddens, trained formally in opera, played banjo and fiddle and sang with her band mates to growing audiences.

This week, we talk to the founding members of the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate DropsJustin Robinson, Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons started playing music together under the tutelage of legendary black old-time fiddler, Joe Thompson in his backyard shed. The Chocolate Drops came together to carry on the old time and country traditions from the Piedmont region in the Carolinas, but they wanted to do more than just play.

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. This week for Carnival Season, we bring you a bit of the action from the streets. We’ll catch up with Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and his followers on Mardi Gras Day.

For our annual pre-Lenten bacchanal, we bring you classic Mardi Gras songs from the Crescent City and beyond. We travel to Nice, France - grand city on the Cote d'Azure - for a float parade that parodies American fast food assembly lines and French political scandals as stinky as local cheese; From there, on to the vintners village of Limoux, where free glasses of blanchette are never empty.

Ernie Vincent
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. One of the enduring heroes of club life in New Orleans is guitarist Ernie Vincent. Ernie’s parents spoke French- father played guitar and harmonica, and the family used to take regular trips to Thibodaux, LA where his uncles played juke joints and fish fries. Vincent learned to play Jimmy Reed tunes, met Little Johnny Taylor and Little Freddy King.

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