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.

American Routes Shortcuts: Charles Neville

May 11, 2018
Charles Neville
American Routes

We’ve been celebrating the music of the Neville Brothers and the life of the late saxophonist Charles Neville. Charles was a transcendent person, living many lives during his six decades of playing music as a member of one of New Orleans most revered musical families, the Neville Brothers. Early on, Charles was in a traveling band with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, later played the French Quarter clubs.

American Routes Shortcuts: Jerry Lee Lewis

May 4, 2018
Jerry Lee Lewis
American Routes

This week it's all about rock n roll's most wayward son, Jerry Lee Lewis. Host Nick Spitzer visited the Killer on his 64th birthday back in 1999 and conducted a brief but memorable interview through his kitchen screen door. 

The Killer, the Thriller, and the Chiller

May 1, 2018

From backwoods Louisiana to Beale Street, from hellfire to honky tonk, we trace the meteoric rise, fall and rebound of rocknroll’s most wayward son—Jerry Lee Lewis. We talk to the Killer about his hits, his misses and being the last man standing of rock’s originators. Jerry Lee’s sister Frankie Jean Lewis, a.k.a. the Chiller, gives us a tour of the family’s homestead in Ferriday, La. Bluesman Hezekiah Early shares memories of Haney’s Big House, the Chitlin’ Circuit nightclub where underage Jerry Lee sneaked in to hear boogie woogie. Drummer J.M.

American Routes Shortcuts: Sonny Rollins

Apr 27, 2018
Sonny Rollins
American Routes

In celebration of the long running New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, we feature Sonny Rollins, who has performed at the festival various times since 1977. The master tenor saxophonist has been at it over half a century. Sonny was born Walter Theodore Rollins in 1930 and grew up in Harlem.  His brother and sister were classically trained musicians, but Sonny turned to jazz early -- by his twenties he was playing tenor sax with Bud Powell, then Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk.

Celebrating the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Apr 24, 2018

This week on American Routes, we’re celebrating the long-running New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with songs and interviews from the performers that make the festival happen. We hear from longtime local favorites, like chanteuse Topsy Chapman and funk drummer Herlin Riley, as well as perennial visitors and jazz titans, McCoy Tyner and Sonny Rollins.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin
American Routes

Texas High Plains Troubadour Jimmie Dale Gilmore and SoCal roots-rocker Dave Alvin were born worlds apart. Gilmore in Lubbock, where he co-founded the Flatlanders. He left music to join an ashram, and played Smokey in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski. Dave Alvin was raised in Downey, California, and once of age took off for Los Angeles to play guitar in punk and rock bands. Over the years, Alvin and Gilmore crisscrossed paths and admired each other from afar. They recently joined forces on the road and for the upcoming album “From Downey to Lubbock.”

Sisters, Brothers, Lovers & Others

Apr 17, 2018

Exploring the musical ties that bind, we spin platters from our favorite harmonizing pairs and family affairs. We map the careers of West Texas-troubadour Jimmie Dale Gilmore of the Flatlanders and So-Cal rocker Dave Alvin of the Blasters and trace the events that led to their cosmic collaboration.

American Routes Shortcuts: CJ Chenier

Apr 13, 2018
CJ Chenier
American Routes

Accordionist CJ Chenier is the son of the late king of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier, who mixed R&B and soul into Louisiana Creole music. CJ was raised in Texas away from his French-speaking relatives. He played in jazz and funk bands, finally joining Clifton’s band and playing accordion a few years before the king passed in 1987. Like his father, CJ continues to push the boundaries of Creole music.

Festival International de Louisiane

Apr 10, 2018

This holiday weekend  American Routes  boogies down to bayou country to catch live music at Festival International, a showcase of French music from southwest Louisiana and the wider Francophone world along with blues, Chicano nouveau and swamp pop. For the 31st annual festival, we hear female Cajun supergroup  Bonsoir, Catin  tear up the stage; bluesman  Corey Harris  ring out the Mississippi Delta’s West African roots; and blue-eyed soul from swamp pop legends  Johnnie Allan ,  T.K. Hulin , and  G.G. Shinn .