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This week we commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in music and conversation with piano professor Allen Toussaint, who shares his thoughts about the recovery of his beloved city and his recent turn toward New Orleans jazz classics on his release The Bright Mississippi. Then, up and coming jazz trumpeter and Lower 9th Ward native Shamarr Allen stops by the American Routes studios to tell of his life both before and after the storm, as well as his hopes for his hometown. Plus music and songs that reflect our shared sense of loss for what has gone, and that celebrate the continuing recovery of the Crescent City.


Conversation with the eclectic song stylist Shelby Lynne—formerly of rural Alabama, now of Palm Springs—to hear about the vicissitudes of her musical and emotional journey from country to pop, including a recent embrace of Dusty Springfield. Elusive singer-songwriter Michael Hurley talks about a family devoted to opera and his sometimes dark, often humorous disaffected songs about the mysteries of modernity and werewolves. Plus a visit to an Alabama cemetery for revered coondogs. We surround it all with Southern soul, hard country, deep blues, traditional jazz and respect for what is still significantly unknowable and magical in American culture.


We remember Elvis Presley on the anniversary of his death. Exclusive interviews with bandmates DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore, producer Sam Phillips, and biographer Peter Guralnick focus on the social and cultural interactions unique to Memphis and the Deep South that sparked Elvis’ musical explosiveness. The songwriting team of Leiber & Stoller talk about working with Elvis on their compositions “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Memphis R&B great Rufus Thomas describes the complex relationship many black musicians had to Elvis, and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson says the king of rock ‘n’ roll was a perfect gentleman on their dates.


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 55th 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.