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Two hours of music surrounding the forefather of the blues, Robert Johnson. The guitarist and singer is remembered by four other Delta bluesmen: guitarist Johnny Shines rode the rails with Johnson in the 1930s, pianist and guitarist Henry Townsend jammed with him, Robert Junior Lockwood is Johnson’s stepson and the late diddly-bow player Lonnie Pitchford followed in his footsteps. We’ll also hear Johnson tunes in the hands of latter-day artists the Rolling Stones and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


As people head home for Thanksgiving, American Routes presents great families in music. A visit with mountain guitarist Doc Watson and his grandson Richard, the Native American family group the Black Lodge Singers, and brothers Branford and Jason Marsalis pay tribute to their father, New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis. Plus, rhythm & blues from Otis and Carla Thomas, and the amazing sibling harmonies of the Everly Brothers.


This week one of America’s great traveling troubadors, Willie Nelson, pulls his tour bus into New Orleans. Willie chats and the Nelson family band plays a live set, including the old favorite, Angel Flying too Close to the Ground and the title track of his new record, Milk Cow Blues. Also, Piedmont bluesman John Jackson drops by to play his brand of country blues from the Eastern Seaboard.


Many have sought solace in music since the sadness and conflict of September 11. American Routes honors Veterans of war, fire, and emergency service with music appropriate to the nation’s mood on this Veteran’s Day. Merle Haggard, Gillian Welch and American Routes listeners tell us what songs have helped them get through this fall, and we’ll hear meditative songs from John Coltrane, the Carter Family and Jimmy Cliff.