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American Routes takes a peek at the producers, sidemen and record company moguls who can make or break a record. New Orleans saxophonist Harold Battiste on playing with Ornette Coleman, acting as music director for Sonny & Cher, and founding his own jazz and blues label. Plus the inside story on Muddy Waters’ much maligned, but imaginative, 1968 album Electric Mud.


For the first road holiday of the year, we speak with country stalwart Red Simpson. Though the only truck he’d ever driven was for Good Humor, Simpson was recruited by Capitol Records to sing about the trucking life, scoring hits like “The Highway Patrol” and “I’m a Truck.” Also a visit with a former truck driver, now yodeling Mississippi bluesman Super Chikan! Steady at the wheel!


An acoustic performance from Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett, who front the Chicago band Wilco. They tell us about writing music to accompany the lost lyrics of Woody Guthrie. Plus a musical tour of Wilco’s old stomping grounds, the Midwestern Mississippi River Valley.


A tribute to mom in music, with spoken sentiments on motherhood from our guests. Alt. rock mama Kristin Hersh talks about caring for her two kids on the road. Lindy Boggs, former congresswoman, New Orleans native, and mother to journalist Cokie Roberts – offers some unique family memories and songs. Zydeco matriarch Queen Ida tell us how she raised a child who would one day play in her band. Also, music from Queen Mothers in jazz, blues and soul, including Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Aretha.


American Routes explores Latin ties to American music with mariachi bandleader Natividad “Nati” Cano. Mariachi has influenced Western swing and others styles. Cano has worked closley over the years with Tucson-born vocalist Linda Ronstadt. Plus the unlikely Italian-American “bongo king” Jack Costanzo on learning Latin, tropical, and jazz styles from the likes of Desi Arnaz and Perez Prado.