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It’s the 50th anniversary concert of the legendary Arhoolie Records and we’re bringing the party to you live from Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. Nick is joined on stage with the pioneering label’s many admirers including roots rock guitarist Ry Cooder, bluesman Taj Mahal, Michael Doucet of Beausoleil, New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band, sacred steel masters the Campbell Brothers, the Mexican-American traditionalists Los Cenzontles and many special guests. We’ll also chat with Arhoolie’s founder, Chris Strachwitz about his passion for putting American roots music on record.


This week we’ll hear from folks that started in small towns and made it big, in jazz, blues, country and more. Jazz singer Nancy Wilson called Chillicothe, Ohio home before moving on to become one of the hippest vocalists around. Lafayette, Louisiana is home base for musical polymath Dickie Landry. The saxophone player was a founding member of the Phillip Glass ensemble, works with the swamp pop ensemble Lil’ Band O’ Gold and continues his own avant-garde musical experiments.


We’re seeking out the “American” in American music with two eclectic artists: Elvis Costello and Carla Bley. For British songman Elvis Costello, American music has shaped much of his musical creativity. We’ll hear about his love of American country and blues, his musical upbringing in Liverpool, and his current fascination with P.T. Barnum. For the inventive and eccentric jazz composer Carla Bley, the National Anthem proves an unlikely source of inspiration. Bley brings wry humor to a conversation about the challenges of writing for her very big bands, her early days as a cigarette girl in NYC jazz clubs, and why America might be famous for baked beans.


Follow American Routes this week to the City of Brotherly Love, as we hang out on the musical street corners with some of Philadelphia’s finest, including bobby-soxer idol Bobby Rydell, hip hop drummer and city champion ?uestlove of the Roots, and the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, who can also claim fame as a disco DJ. We’ll visit famous operatic cafes and sit in with a neighborhood jazz organ trio. Plus catch a choir rehearsal at one of the city’s historic churches and a conversation with a mother-daughter klezmer duo. And musical postcards from artists who call Philly their hometown.


Celebrate the National Folk Festival with American Routes. For over 70 years, the National Folk Festival has traveled from coast to coast, bringing the music of the people to the people. We’ll head to the old mining town of Butte, Montana to meet the folks who recently put on the show and the city that came out to see them. Then we’ll mine the archives and listen in on classic moments from past National Folk Festivals. All this plus music to get you in the summer festival frame of mind.