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: Rik De Lisle

Jul 14, 2017
Rik De Lisle
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. This week, we speak with American G.I. Rik De Lisle, who spun records for Armed Forces Network during the Cold War. He signed up for the military at 17, and in 1978 he was transferred to West Berlin. Rik’s rock broadcast made him a hero, especially among the East German audience who risked punishment to hear the electrifying sounds coming out of the west. 

Rockin’ Behind the Iron Curtain: To Russia With Love

Jul 11, 2017

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.

American Routes Shortcuts: Judy Collins

Jul 7, 2017
Judy Collins
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. This week, we speak with folk singer Judy Collins, who recorded songs by contemporaries in Greenwich Village like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell in the 1960s. She gained an appreciation for traditional Irish folk music from her father who was blind and hosted a radio show.

The Folk Revival Revisited

Jul 3, 2017

The American folk music revival that grew from the Post-WWII era to the Sixties was about more than just music: it wrapped in political activism, romantic visions of the self and the “folk,” group “sing-a-longs,” “hootenannies” and careers of singer-songwriters. We interview folk heroine Judy Collins about her move from traditional British folk songs to the new songs and sounds in Greenwich Village. Jug bandleader Jim Kweskin talks about his love of communal living.

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 AllanT.K. Hulin, and G.G.

American Routes Shortcuts: Catherine Russell

Jun 23, 2017

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. This week we feature blues singer Catherine Russell. Her dad was Louis Armstrong’s musical director and her mom was bassist for the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.  Here’s Catherine on her musical upbringing and the canon of female-fronted blues.

Billie Holiday: Ladies Sing the Blues & Beyond

Jun 20, 2017

We follow Billie Holiday from her beginnings through a complex life of troubles and musical triumphs, her compelling "autumn" voice and untimely passing at age 44. Biographers John Szwed and Robert O'Meally discuss Lady Day's style and significance, while Cassandra Wilson describes and sings her approach to the Billie Holiday oeuvre. Singer Catherine Russell describes reaching back to recreate classic blues and jazz. From our archives we hear Nina Simone and Bonnie Raitt praising their blues heroines in story and song.

Trombone Shorty… Casts a Long Shadow

Jun 13, 2017

This week on American Routes, we're celebrating the life and music of Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Schooled in the sounds of his family and New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood, Shorty has been a musician since the age of four.

Guilty Pleasures: Music We Love More Than We Can Say

Jun 6, 2017

We take a deep dive into the memory vaults to spin the tunes that we shamelessly love. From guilty pleasures, including a disco dance number, to confessional ballads like James Carr’s “Dark End of the Street” and songs of redemption ala Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” we shine a light on our heart’s true delights. Plus, we explore social protest anthems including Mavis Staples' "Long Walk to D.C.," Simon & Garfunkle's "Richard Cory," and a standout R & B version of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer" sung by Shreveport's Toussaint McCall.

American Routes Shortcuts: Jesse Winchester

Jun 2, 2017
Jesse Winchester
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. This week the late songwriter Jesse Winchester tells of his musical life on the road. Jesse Winchester grew up around Memphis, where he was surrounded by gospel and country music as well as early rhythm & blues and rock & roll radio, sounds that would define his own musical and songwriting style throughout his life. In the early ’60s, he moved to Massachusetts for college and then fled to Quebec to avoid being drafted to Vietnam.

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