Allons! Join in as American Routes heads west from our New Orleans studio to Southwestern French Louisiana. For a small area on the map this area of the state has produced a huge amount of music. We’ll speak with swamp popper Rod Bernard about his breakout hit, “This Could Go On Forever.” Guitarist Lil’ Buck Sinegal recalls the heyday of Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band. There’s a historic interview with the late fiddler that helped break Cajun music to the world, Dewey Balfa. Plus a live set with Creole accordion player Zydeco Joe.
Meet two men of great musical distinction—New Orleans songman and piano player Allen Toussaint and his longtime fan and current collaborator Elvis Costello—who tell us about recording in post-Katrina New Orleans. Plus a tour of some famous New Orleans restaurants by none other than Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson, better known as the Kitchen Sisters. The pair take us to two kitchens of two sisters, apiece—that makes six in all.
It’s old-time country and folk, as seen from the two very different viewpoints of our guests. Jolie Holland is a young singer-songwriter whose sound incorporates a distinct vision—sometimes dark and somewhat hallucinatory—of blues and country from another era. Homer Bailes is the last remaining member of 1940s country superstar family band the Bailes Brothers. His stern outlook on life, illustrated by songs like “Whiskey is the Devil in Liquid Form,” remains unchanged over half a century later.
We visit with two great performers who carry on the legacy of MLK in life and spirit. First, the great songwriter, arranger and performer Isaac Hayes—who defined R&B for a generation—recalls his participation in lunch counter sit-ins and Memphis protest marches, and integrating the Stax office staff. And ’60s soul singer “Able” Mable John talks about recording strong statements like “Stay Out of the Kitchen” and “Don’t Hit Me No More,” as well as her work now as a minister in Los Angeles.
This week we toe, walk and cross the blurry line between country and blues, as performed by both black and white artists. Guests include white blues harmonica player Charley Musselwhite, who tells us about his lifetime journey from Mississippi to Memphis to Chicago to California; and Charley Pride, who talks about his upbringing in Sledge, Mississippi, his baseball career, and being an African-American country singer with 29 number one hits to his name. Plus bluesy-country and country blues from Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Aretha Franklin and more.