American Routes

Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m.
  • Hosted by Nick Spitzer

American Routes is a two-hour weekly excursion into American music, spanning eras and genres—roots rock and soul, blues and country, jazz, gospel and beyond.

American Routes Shortcuts: Cedric Burnside

Aug 17, 2018
Cedric Burnside
American Routes

Cedric Burnside heard hill country blues from his grandfather, R.L. Burnside, also known as Big Daddy. As a youth, Cedric toured with Big Daddy playing drums in his band and with elders Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill. Once of age, Cedric formed the “Juke Joint Duo” with friend Lightnin’ Malcolm, and later the Cedric Burnside Project. His 2015 album Descendants of Hill Country was nominated for a Grammy. But it began for him living with his grandparents in Holly Springs, MS.

New Blues and Bluegrass

Aug 14, 2018

Facing the hot season head on, we hit up juke joints, dancehalls and folk festivals to get our fill of hot licks from blues and bluegrass musicians, oldtimers and newcomers alike. We talk shop with Mississippi Hill Country bluesman Cedric Burnside about playing music alongside his grandfather R.L. Burnside, finding his voice and translating old school sounds for a new generation.

John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk
American Routes

When John Coltrane finished high school in 1943, the 17 year old moved from North Carolina to Philadelphia, joining his mother, Alice, who worked as a domestic. Soon after his arrival, she bought him an alto sax. In the small apartment on 12th Street, he began a life of intense practice. Coltrane’s talents grew in the city’s vibrant jazz scene in the 1940s. Young Coltrane took theory classes at a local music school, and then went to night school in the clubs, with professors of jazz like Dizzy Gillespie, R&B sax man Earl Bostic, and alto player Johnny Hodges.

Giants of Jazz

Aug 7, 2018

For this special American Routes program, we follow the lives of two giants of jazz: Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. From their humble North Carolina beginnings to their triumphs on the world stage, we’ll trace their individual and inspired paths to creativity. And we’ll visit with the musicians who played with the greats, including McCoy Tyner and Pharoah Sanders, and the next generation, TS Monk and Ravi Coltrane.

American Routes Shortcuts: Brandi Carlile

Aug 3, 2018
Brandi Carlile
American Routes

Songmaker Brandi Carlile was raised in the Northwest country, but has lived half her life on the road as a gigging musician. After dropping out of high school, Brandi busked on the streets of Seattle, where she met long-time collaborators, the twin brothers, Tim and Phil Hanseroth. She quickly signed to Columbia Records for a self-titled album. Since then, Brandi has made acclaimed records with producers T-Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin. She went it alone in 2015 for Firewatcher's Daughter earning a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album.

Stories From the Road

Jul 31, 2018

We hit the open road to hear tales of adventure and woe from honky-tonkers and hobos, train-hoppers and busking bohemians. En route we talk with Washington folk singer Brandi Carlile, who dropped out of high school to cut it as a touring musician, and New Orleans’ Meschiya Lake, about her journey from circus performer to jazz chanteuse. Driving on in search of mythic America, we hear the voices of its discontents: Woody Guthrie, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Wilcoand Pops Staples.

Jimmy C. Newman
American Routes

Jimmy C. Newman grew up in French Louisiana, hearing Cajun music as well as Gene Autry and other country musicians. He began playing with Chuck Guillory’s Rhythm Boys. Later he played on the Louisiana Hayride, and in 1956, he joined the Grand Ole Opry. Even with commercial success as a country music star, Newman recalled his roots, introducing a wider audience to Cajun sounds. After his passing in 2014, producer and musician Joel Savoy teamed up with Jimmy’s son Gary Newman, to record a tribute, “Farewell, Alligator Man,” released on Valcour Records in 2017.  Here’s Gary. 

A Routes Rocker and Memories of the Alligator Man

Jul 25, 2018

We trace stardom back to its source, traversing the roots and routes that led small town musicians to national fame. Pop icon Boz Scaggs and the late Cajun honky-tonk man Jimmy C. Newman took very different paths to the stage but carried with them the sounds they grew up hearing in rural America. Boz Scaggs achieved mainstream success with his own platinum records as well as his work with Steve Miller and Duane Allman.

American Routes Shortcuts: Dan Auerbach

Jul 20, 2018
Dan Auerbach
American Routes

Dan Auerbach first recorded his own duo, the Black Keys in a basement with a four-track tape machine. He has since released ten albums with the band and two solo records. These days, Auerbach is more focused on working the mixing board than the crowd. He puts in long hours recording other artists at his Nashville studio and label, Easy Eye Sound. We spoke to Dan about his journey in music, beginning at home in Akron, Ohio.

Record Mavens

Jul 17, 2018

Traveling at the speed of 45 RPM, we sink into the record grooves of some of our favorite songs and talk to the studio wizards who produced them. First stop is Nashville, home to Music Row as well as Easy Eye Sound, the recording studio of Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach. We talk with Auerbach about his journey in music, from hearing vinyl on his parents’ turntable in Akron, Ohio, to cutting records with some of Nashville’s legendary session players.