We take a deep dive into the history of pianos and guitars, from studio to stage in jazz, blues, roots rock and soul. First, we cruise New Orleans to hear pianos played live to order in front of your house on a truck, and hear favorite studio recordings from heroes of the 88s including Ray Charles, Nina Simone, McCoy Tyner, Papo Lucca and Professor Longhair. Then we go to the stage at the National Folk Festival in Salisbury, Maryland for a round robin guitar session with Jerry Douglas, Bill Kirchen, Eddie Cotton and Steve Lewis. Plus some recorded guitar heroines: Mother Maybelle Carter, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Bonnie Raitt, and Lydia Mendoza.
At the peak of the summer season, American Routes is riding the airwaves to exotic destinations, swinging and surfing to all manner of beachside rhythms from the Beach Boys, Toots and the Maytals, Wilco, and the Kinks. We also stay home to bask in the sultry heat of “Summertime,” composed by George Gershwin and novelist Dubose Heyward in 1934 for the opera Porgy and Bess. It’s one of the most covered tunes in the American songbook with over thirty thousand renditions. We’ll hear takes from Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, and the Zombies.
This summer we try to be and stay…cool. Leading our in-crowd is pianist and jazz radio host Ramsey Lewis in conversation about blending the blues he heard on the Chicago streets with gospel music from home to create a cool version of jazz. We’ll also hear cool words and music from Tom Waits, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, Albert Murray, and Oscar Brown, Jr. Plus a visit to North Carolina’s historic Black Seabreeze Beach.
From creation to criticism, this archive edition of American Routes explores the relationship between language and sounds, words and music. Rock and roll originator Chuck Berry, alt country traditionalist Gillian Welch, and music writer and novelist Nick Hornby give a variety of perspectives on the subject. With a mix of celebrated songwriters, storytellers, and literary heroes in American music.