american routes shortcuts

American Routes Shortcuts: Meschiya Lake

Feb 23, 2018
Meschiya Lake
American Routes

Meschiya Lake was named from Hebrew as “the anointed one.” Though Ms. Lake has yet to save the world, Meschiya has come a long way from Rapid City, South Dakota where at the age of nine she won a prize singing at a steakhouse. After high school, she hit the road and joined a traveling circus that later brought her to New Orleans in 2000. That’s where she leads her band, the Little Big Horns.

American Routes Shortcuts: Ben Jaffe

Feb 16, 2018
Ben Jaffe
American Routes

Ben Jaffe grew up in Preservation Hall, surrounded by jazz legends, immersed in the musical traditions his parents fought to preserve. He marched in Mardi Gras parades and jazz funerals, and toured the country with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, honing his chops as a bass and tuba player. 

American Routes Shortcuts: Monk Boudreaux

Feb 9, 2018
Monk Boudreaux
American Routes

Each year Mardi Gras Indians greet the day on the city streets to sing and strut. This has been going on since the late 19th century. The call and response sounds of the Indians often carry the Congo beat, fundamental in New Orleans' musical fabric. The beloved Indian chief Monk Boudreaux has been masking Indian for more than 70 years. We visited him at home where he quietly sewed his new suit.

American Routes Shortcuts: Don Was

Feb 2, 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: William Bell

Jan 26, 2018
William Bell
American Routes

William Bell grew up on the south side of Memphis. His mother was a gospel singer. As a child he began singing in the church, as a teenager he befriended other future Stax stars, Isaac Hayes, Al Jackson Jr. and Booker T. Jones. Bell recalls his early days at Stax Records.

American Routes Shortcuts: Charles Neville

Jan 19, 2018
Charles Neville with the Jazzmen at Angola Prison
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, saxophonist and Neville Brother, Charles Neville, shares about his time at Angola Prison in the 60s. He was among many great musicians who were sent to the penitentiary for drug offenses. One of his great contributions as an inmate was helping to racially and musically integrate prison life. Charles helped form the unlikely but prolific bebop group, the Nic Nacs and found solace in the music he encountered while at Angola.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
American Routes

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we’re recalling the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. We’ll hear memories of the Civil Rights leader from Harry Belafonte, former Raelette and preacher Mable John, and the great singer, Mavis Staples.

Nick Spitzer: Most people know Harry Belafonte from his calypso hit, the “Banana Boat Song.” But Belafonte’s efforts to improve conditions for people of color show more of the man. Harry was a friend of Martin Luther King, and produced “Long Road to Freedom,” an anthology of Black music.

American Routes Shortcuts: Mavis Staples

Jan 5, 2018
Mavis Staples
American Routes

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we feature gospel and R&B singer Mavis Staples, from the second installment of our show all about Bob Dylan. 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.

American Routes Shortcuts: Joan Baez

Dec 29, 2017
Joan Baez
American Routes

We go to Bob Dylan’s back pages and hear from American folk singer, songwriter, and activist, Joan Baez, who helped bring Dylan into the spotlight. Baez and Dylan collaborated frequently and briefly became involved romantically. Host Nick Spitzer speaks with Joan Baez about her favorite love ballads, Bob Dylan going electric, and what it’s like to be the subject of songs, known worldwide.

NS: I wonder, is there a single love song over the years that most endures for you?

JB: A single love song?

American Routes Shortcuts: Irma Thomas

Dec 22, 2017
Irma Thomas
American Routes

Irma Thomas launched her career as a teenager and still tears the house down at age 76. Irma grew up singing in church and auditioned with Specialty Records at age 13. She was turned away for being too young, but proved ready by 18 and charted her first hit in 1959, “Don’t Mess With My Man,” on Ron Records. She went on to record hits for Minit, Imperial, and Chess. In 2007, Irma won a Grammy for her album “After the Rain” on Rounder Records.