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Put your feet up and relax on this Labor Day weekend with music of work and workers in blues, jazz, country and more. There’s also a conversation with one-time barber and boxer, reggae legend Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals. Hard-working roots rocker Johnny Rivers drops by to talk about his developing that live Whiskey-A-Go-Go sound. Plus we visit the morgue for thoughts on music and life from New Orleans’ official coroner—and trumpeter—Dr. Frank Minyard.


American Routes goes from Texas roadhouses to Zydeco dancehalls with two men known for their live performances, Delbert McClinton and Buckwheat Zydeco. Harmonica player, vocalist and songwriter Delbert McClinton has gone from backing up Jimmy Reed and Howlin’ Wolf in the 1960s to top-40 success. But he never stops delivering what his fans want—sweaty, country-tinged rhythm and blues shows. Stanley Dural, Jr., better known as Buckwheat Zydeco, grew up hearing traditional accordion from his father from the very beginning, but preferred soul, funk and R&B. Now he’s known for mixing them all together for high-energy shows across southern Louisiana and the world. All this plus great music from Lightnin’ Hopkins, Emmylou Harris, Fats Domino and more.


Head West out of New Orleans and through Texas to the great Southwest. Hear music from the arid desert landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico, and listen to conversations with musicians from the area. Guitarist Duane Eddy helped invent surf music from his homebase of Phoenix — hundreds of miles from any beach — and the Tucson band Calexico mold indie-rock styles with Mariachi music. Also writer and musicologist Jack Loeffler describes the sound of the Southwest from his home in Santa Fe.


Celebrate epic moments in American music from the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals—from Duke Ellington’s 1956 comeback to Bob Dylan’s 1965 electric revolution. Mark the 50th anniversary of the Jazz Festival with performances by Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, and a visit from trumpet legend Clark Terry, who played with Ellington in ’56. Festival founder George Wein also joins us to share his memories, such as the founding of the Folk Festival in 1959 that featured blues, gospel, country, Cajun and more; and folk singer Joan Baez recalls her Newport experiences. Plus Newport performances from Doc Watson, John Lee Hooker and others.


Two men who embody eclecticism in the music they play and love. First, an in-depth discussion with guitarist and producer Ry Cooder, from his California roots in American blues, country and rock, to his forays into Tex-Mex, African, and East Indian music, his many film soundtracks, and his work in Cuba with the Buena Vista Social Club and guitarist Manuel Galban. Also we’ll remember the late blues and gospel singer Gatemouth Moore, who began performing with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in the 1920s and preached at his church in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Plus the American Routes music mix we hope you seek… each week.