American Routes

American Routes Shortcuts: Dan Auerbach

Jul 20, 2018
Dan Auerbach
American Routes

Dan Auerbach first recorded his own duo, the Black Keys in a basement with a four-track tape machine. He has since released ten albums with the band and two solo records. These days, Auerbach is more focused on working the mixing board than the crowd. He puts in long hours recording other artists at his Nashville studio and label, Easy Eye Sound. We spoke to Dan about his journey in music, beginning at home in Akron, Ohio.

American Routes Shortcuts: Don Was

Jul 13, 2018
Don Was
American Routes

Record maven Don Was developed an ear for music in the Motor City. He made his way into studio recording with his band, Was Not Was, teaching himself how to pick and mix music. After striking out for LA in pursuit of his destiny, Don began racking up Grammys as a producer. He’s worked alongside Bryan Wilson, the Rolling Stones and Randy Newman, among others.  In 2012, Don became president of Blue Note Records, the label that introduced him to his love of music.

American Routes Shortcuts: Jimmy Carter

Jul 6, 2018
Jimmy Carter and the Blind Boys of Alabama
American Routes

When you hear the name Jimmy Carter, you may think of the former president. But our guest Jimmy Carter has been making a joyful noise with the Blind Boys of Alabama since their start at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939.  Over their long career, the Blind Boys have performed at neighborhood churches and nightclubs, large music halls and the White House. Jimmy Carter is the only surviving member of the original Blind Boys. He is reflective but has no plans of stopping just yet.

American Routes Shortcuts: Jeff Tweedy

Jun 29, 2018
Jeff Tweedy
American Routes

Jeff Tweedy grew up in Belleville, Illinois, a midsized, blue-collar suburb of St. Louis. In high school he started a band with Jay Farrar that became Uncle Tupelo in the late 80s, and later grew into Wilco, the popular indie band now with us for over two decades. When Tweedy was a kid, he spent a lot of time in the tavern run by his maternal grandfather, back in Belleville.

American Routes Shortcuts: Gershwin's "Summertime"

Jun 22, 2018
George Gershwin
American Routes

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, 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.

Nick Spitzer: It is one of the most covered tunes in the American Songbook, with over 30,000 renditions. “Summertime” was composed by George Gershwin and novelist DuBose Heyword in 1934, for the opera Porgy and Bess. To flesh out the scenes and sounds of the DuBose Heyword novel, the composer went into the field. Jeffrey Melnick.

American Routes Shortcuts: Masakowski Family

Jun 15, 2018
Masakowski Family
American Routes

Steve Masakowski has worked with Allen Toussaint, Mose Allison, Dianne Reeves, and many others. He’s a Blue Note recording artist, member of the fusion group Astral Project, inventor of the keytar, and professor of Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans. Steve is also father to professional musicians Sasha and Martin Masakowski. We spoke to all three about their home life, solo careers, and performing together as the Masakowski Family.

American Routes Shortcuts: Samantha Fish

Jun 8, 2018
Samantha Fish
American Routes

Guitarist Samantha Fish grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where classic rock radio and a local club lead her to the stage. She studied Delta blues guitar players, as well as Bonnie Raitt and Slash, to develop a modern blues sound. Samantha has proved her ability to shred, and has released five solo albums since 2009.

Samantha Fish: I didn’t really get into music until I was a teenager, I guess. I mean I just sort of found it. I was really shy, and it became an outlet then for me.

American Routes Shortcuts: Charlie Gabriel

Jun 1, 2018
Charlie Gabriel
American Routes

Sax and clarinet player Charlie Gabriel’s roots are in New Orleans traditional jazz, but he made a name for himself playing with Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin. Charlie learned how to play saxophone and clarinet from his father in the Crescent City, and he began playing in local bands at age 11. As a teen, his family moved to Detroit, where he lived for almost 60 years before returning home to New Orleans to play with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

American Routes Shortcuts: Carol Fran

May 25, 2018
Carol Fran
Michael G. Stewart (NEA)

Carol Fran has had a long career as an entertainer on the nightclub circuit from South to Southwest. She’s worked the joints from Juarez to New Orleans, playing swamp pop and soul, jazz and country, along the way making records for the legendary Excello label.

Carol Fran: I was called the Sarah Vaughan of the Vieux Carré. The older gals didn’t like that, but they couldn’t do nothing about it.

Nick Spitzer: Bourbon Street from the ‘50s, huh? Who was in those clubs when you were there?

CF: Frogman Henry, Papa Celestin, Snookum Russell, Alma Lollipop.

American Routes Shortcuts: Robert Finley

May 18, 2018
Robert Finley
American Routes

At 65 years old, Robert Finley is finally getting his due. After serving in an Army band, working as a carpenter, and busking, Robert’s talents were discovered in 2015 by Music Maker Relief Foundation. He released a debut album, “Age Don’t Mean a Thing.” He later connected with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who produced the next one, “Goin’ Platinum.” Robert Finley took us back to his youth in Winnsboro, Louisiana.

Robert Finley: My dad was a sharecropper so I picked my share of cotton. You know, we were poor but we didn’t know it. It was a happy poor.