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.

We're bringing the blues from the clubs to the church this week on American RoutesThe Campbell Brothers, from Rochester, NY, are masters of sacred steel. With both pedal and lap steel guitars, they summon the spirit in voice and sound. We'll talk about growing up in the church and playing gospel blues on the guitar. Then, New Orleans bluesman Walter "Wolfman" Washington stops by the American Routes studio for a conversation about his life in the music and in the clubs around town.

Bill Deputy was All Things Considered's guardian of sound. An engineer and the show's technical director for many years, Deputy died Sunday of lung cancer in New Orleans at the age of 58.

Sound was a serious business for Bill. When he wasn't combining words and sound with music in the All Things Considered control room, he was traveling with us on assignments. We worked together everywhere from Baltimore to Gaza City, and his assignments with my colleagues were equally far-flung.

Soul Sisters

Mar 17, 2015

We talk to three soul singers from the formative era of the mid-1950s through Motown of the late '60s, and an all-female New Orleans brass band. Justine "Baby" Washington talks about growing up in Harlem and her hits such as "That's How Heartaches Are Made." Maxine Brown started as teenager in NYC singing with gospel groups.

Richard Thompson & Zachary Richard

Mar 10, 2015

This week on American Routes, we'll talk to folk rocker songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson. An advocate for British lyric and music tradition in new settings with refashioned traditional songs and stories, Thompson evolved from playing in the seminal folk-rock band, Fairport Convention, to his present day role as an in-demand guitarist and songwriter.

Alabama Bound

Mar 2, 2015

American Routes takes a trip through the music of the Yellowhammer State, Alabama. Visit the Muscle Shoals Sound studio and find out what's in the water around "the Shoals" to make it a historic hotbed for R&B hits by Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and more. Also, a trip through Hank Williams' childhood home in Georgiana, and W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence. And music from Shelby Lynne, the Birmingham Sunlights and the Delmore Brothers.

By Any Other Name

Oct 2, 2014
Bobby Rush

What's in a name? Listen in and you'll find out why Emmett Ellis Jr. became the bluesman Bobby Rush; how folks get names like Topsy (Chapman), Sherman & Wendell (Holmes); and how country singer George Jones became known as "the possum." Also, we talk to Yale anthropologist David Watts about names of non-human primates.

Lovers, Brothers and Others: Making Sweet Music Together

Sep 30, 2014
Marty Stuart & Connie Smith

Music made by couples, families and siblings often has a special quality. The same is true of people who have a musical attraction to one another: Lennon and McCartney, or Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. Country traditionalist and mandolin player Marty Stuart was 12 years old when he met country chanteuse Connie Smith at a road show in his native Mississippi. Decades later Marty and Connie were married.

R.Crumb

This week on American Routes we spin some shellac and wax nostalgic with the iconic cartoonist, musician and record collector Robert Crumb, who'll share with us his love of musical times gone by. Then, we talk to educator and vinyl aficionado Jerry Zolten about the story of Paramount Records, started by a furniture manufacturer, whose recorded legacy is now contained in two swank suitcases.

Festivals Acadiens et Creoles and New Orleans Nightlife

Sep 16, 2014
Ernie Vincent

Get Rhythm: A Tribute to Johnny Cash

Sep 9, 2014
Johnny Cash

It's a two-hour tribute in song and story to the Man in Black. We'll hear from his family, friends and associates on the contradictions--preacher, outlaw, loving family man, rockabilly rebel--that made the man.

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