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: Gershwin's "Summertime"

Aug 4, 2017
George Gershwin
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peak at our upcoming show. This week, we bask in the summer heat and listen to our favorite versions of the George Gershwin classic, “Summertime,” from the 1934 opera Porgy and Bess.

At the peak of the Summer season, American Routes is riding the airwaves to exotic destinations, swinging  and surfing to all manner of beachside rhythms from the Beach Boys, Toots and the Maytals, Wilco, and the Kinks. We also stay home to bask in the sultry heat of "Summertime," composed by George Gershwin and novelist Dubose Heyward in 1934 for the opera Porgy and Bess . It's one of the most covered tunes in the American songbook with over thirty thousand renditions. We'll hear takes from Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, and the Zombies.

American Routes Shortcuts: Mavis Staples

Jul 28, 2017
Mavis Staples
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek of the upcoming show. This week, it’s the second installment of our program all about Bob Dylan.  Here’s host Nick Spitzer with Mavis Staples, on American Routes.

NS: Bob Dylan admired the civil rights songs of the Staples singers,  and would hear them on tour in the early 60s. Mavis Staples remembers when her father, Pops, heard Dylan for the first time, and how Dylan’s protest lyrics influenced their family in return.

How Many Roads: Bob Dylan’s Back Pages Volume II

Jul 25, 2017

In this second edition of "How Many Roads?" Bob Dylan's Back Pages, we'll rejoin the great American wordsmith by listening to his work from the last 25 years. We won't forget the historic and ancient roots of his modern sounds, from the Old Testament to the Civil Rights movement. We'll hear from collaborators and friends, Mavis Staples and Joan Baez, and from Kris Kristofferson who overheard Dylan's recording sessions while working as a custodian in Nashville.

American Routes Shortcuts: Sea Breeze Beach

Jul 21, 2017
Sea Breeze Beach
American Routes

Each week, American Routes brings you Shortcuts, a sneak peek at our upcoming show. This week, we travel to Sea Breeze Beach in North Carolina. In the late 19th century African American beach communities emerged along the East Coast as havens for black vacationers excluded from white beaches. Sea Breeze provided summertime leisure to African Americans throughout the Jim Crow era and became one of the few integrated places where blacks and whites could hang out, hear music, and dance together.

It’s summertime, and the living is easy on American Routes, where we’ve got cool tunes from Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Beach Boys to help you beat that summer heat. We’ll hear memories of Sea Breeze, NC, a historically Black resort community that was an early site of integration in the Jim Crow South… And visit with some surfers at Mission Beach, San Diego.

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.

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