This Labor Day weekend, it’s the best of American Routes Live—studio concerts and conversation in collaboration with the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park—including the Pine Leaf Boys with Cajun tunes and dances, Haitian-American singer songwriter Leyla McCalla and her band, Creole banjoist and songman Don Vappie, New Orleans’s king of the trumpet Kermit Ruffins, jazz saxophone modernist Donald Harrison and an acoustic set by Rickie Lee Jones.
This week on American Routes, we’re roaming the highways, byways and crossroads of the Magnolia State, looking for all kinds of blues. We sit down with noted blues scholar Bill Ferris to talk about his lifelong obsession with the music of his home state, and visit with Delta piano blues chanteuse Eden Brent to learn about her music mentor Boogaloo Ames. We set out north for Holly Springs and some Hill Country family jams. Then we head towards home to hang out at Teddy’s Juke Joint, and catch up with the master of the gut-bucket blues, Little Freddie King.
A visit with legendary bandsmen including late roots rocker Robbie Robertson and California jazz bandleader Johnny Otis. Robertson was a prime mover behind The Band, who, along with the Grateful Dead and others, defined the image and sound of American rock with folk roots in the 1960s and ’70s. Johnny Otis shaped the West Coast jump boogie sound, working with artists such as Jackie Wilson, Big Mama Thornton, and Etta James. Also a trip back in time to the Dew Drop Inn, a halcyon New Orleans nightclub which also served as a hotel, eatery, barber shop and post office. We’ll hear about one of the Dew Drop’s most infamous characters, female impersonator and R & B singer Patsy Vidalia.
Who was Harry Smith? The short answer about the 20th century polymath and hustler might be divined in his legendary 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music, an LP collection of mostly Southern US folk songs from 78rpm records. “The Anthology” established a cult of listening and influenced popular and folk revival artists from John Sebastian and the New Lost City Ramblers to rockers like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and Beck. We’ll talk with Smith biographer John Szwed about Harry’s life as an artist, record collector and 1950’s bohemian. Then, old and new covers of the Anthology and its B-sides from Gillian Welch, Bob Dylan, Gatemouth Brown and Amythyst Kiah.
NEW ORLEANS TRADITIONAL JAZZ LIVE WITH DR. MICHAEL WHITE AND THE ORIGINAL LIBERTY JAZZ BAND-JAZZ MANOUCHE FROM CHRISTINE TASSAN ET LES IMPOSTEURES
It’s an American Routes Live session of New Orleans Traditional Jazz with Dr. Michael White, the beloved clarinetist leading the Original Liberty Jazz Band, in concert and conversation. Then, we explore the world of Jazz Manouche and its late leading influence, guitarist Django Reinhardt and his historic recordings with violinist Stephane Grapelli from the Quintette du Hot Club de France. We also visit with a contemporary women’s Jazz Manouche band from Quebec: Christine Tassan et les Imposteures. Plus music influenced by Django Reinhardt from Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and the Hot Club of Cowtown.