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Join us for a two-hour visit with John Prine as he walks us through his life—from urban Illinois backwards to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky—and catalog. For over 35 years, the singer and guitarist has written and performed songs which present a slightly off-kilter and darkly humorous look at working class America. We’ll also talk agitprop with the man who has written Vietnam-era protest songs like “Take the Star Our of the Window” and “Sam Stone,” and environmental broadsides such as “Paradise.” There’s also performances of Prine’s songs by others and more in this two-hour visit with one of America’s leading songwriters.


From Pretty Polly and Poor Ellen Smith to Lil’ Liza Jane and Old Joe Clark, this American Routes deals with the nomenclature of music. We’ll chat with a man many of you might know, and learn what it’s like to grow up as John Smith. Plus, the San Antonio native and leader of the barnstorming 1950’s band Mando & the Chili Peppers tells us how he took a turn from Tejano music to rock n’ roll and ended up in Las Vegas with a stage name that stuck. And learn more about Jody, that shadowy figure that’s got your girl and gone.


Come stir the pot with American Routes as we bring you a sampling of great live music from our home state: Louisiana. First we’ll stop by the soon to be legendary BlackPot Festival in Lafayette for some new flavors of Cajun and Creole tunes, as well as some old favorites by special guests. Then we’ll walk through the streets of New Orleans with the Prince of Wales Social Aid and Pleasure Club during their annual second line parade.


American Routes’ host Nick Spitzer uncovers the music and cultural traditions of Los Angeles: from Hollywood to neighborhood. Join Nick as he travels across the City of Angels to hear from legends — including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and songwriter Randy Newman — and explores musical cultures with Cambodian-born rapper PraCh Ly, Louisiana Creole zydeco accordionist T-Lou, and East L.A.‘s Ersi Arvizu. Plus conversations and music from Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos, R & B saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, and rockabilly guitarist Glen Glenn. Along the way we visit L.A. musical landmarks — including the famed Capitol Records recording studios.