In this special program, we visit Angola, the notorious plantation-turned-penitentiary, to hear stories and songs from within the prison’s walls. We talk with saxophonist Charles Neville about serving time at the “Farm” during the Jim Crow era, playing with fellow inmates in the Nic Nacs, and the role of music in integrating prison life. We hear previously unreleased Harry Oster field recordings of Mardi Gras Indian chants and bebop jazz from Angola in the late-50s. And we go on-site for interviews and performances with contemporary Angola musicians. Plus, we explore the popular tradition of prison music from singing inmates like Leadbelly and Merle Haggard to live performances from Johnny Cash at San Quentin and B.B. King at Cook County Jail.
Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
For National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the “Latin tinge” in American music. We’ll hear a classic interview with the late Nuyorican bandleader and King of the Timbales, Tito Puente, who tells us about the roots of tropical Latin jazz in Spanish Harlem. Then, it’s off to the West Coast, where we visit the Los Angeles club of the late, great bandleader Nati Cano. As leader of Mariachi Los Camperos, Nati Cano was a central figure in the Mexican Mariachi scene of East LA. All this, plus music from Dizzy Gillespie, Lalo Guerrero, Los Lobos, Buena Vista Social Club, Freddy Fender, Professor Longhair and more.
We road-trip to the fertile crescent of rock and soul with Barbara Sims, Sun Studios publicist and promoter, as she tells of her search for the next Elvis. We hightail it to North Alabama for a conversation on love, God and music with soul and disco siren Candi Staton. Then, we dig into the archives for classic interviews with Sun’s founder Sam Phillips, Elvis’ sidemen DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore and the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Plus, we get tips from STAX soul man Rufus Thomas on how to cut a rug.
Tune in and rock the blues with two guitar men who do it with great authority. First up is Arkansas wild man and original Sun Records rockabilly Sonny Burgess who tore it up, playing his hits “We Wanna Boogie,” “Red-Headed Woman” and others well into his eighties, before passing away last month. And hear a live set from the late great New Orleans bluesman and human jukebox Snooks Eaglin, recorded in 2007 at his home base, the famous Rock ‘N’ Bowl nightclub, where one can do either of those, or both, at the same time. Feel the beat in blues, jazz, Western swing and more with a music mix designed to rock your blues away.