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: Remembering Johnny Cash

15 hours ago
Johnny Cash
American Routes

Johnny Cash was born in the tiny town of Kingsland, Arkansas in 1932. By the age of four, his parents Ray and Carrie Cash had moved the family to Dyess, Arkansas, not far from Memphis, along the Mississippi River. Dyess was built as a government resettlement program for troubled farmers during the depression. The Cash’s and three hundred other families worked the land, picking cotton. Johnny’s younger sister Joanne Cash Yates remembers early life in Dyess.

Get Rhythm: A Tribute to Johnny Cash

Oct 9, 2018

It’s a two-hour tribute in song and story to the Man in Black. We’ll hear from his family, friends and associates on the contradictions—preacher, outlaw, loving family man, rockabilly rebel—that made the man. Voices include Rosanne Cash; son John Carter Cash; sister Joanne Yates; bassist and original member of the Tennessee Two Marshall Grant; guitarist Johnny Western; producer Rick Rubin; long-time manager Lou Robin; writer and critic Michael Streissguth; and, of course, Johnny Cash.

American Routes Shortcuts: Los Lobos

Oct 5, 2018
Los Lobos
American Routes

Los Lobos are truly a Mexican and American band. A sonic feast of Mexican acoustic music traditions blended later with large helpings of R&B, rock, and soul. Los Lobos have been writing and performing together for over three decades, a partnership that began back at Garfield High, in East L.A. I spoke to longtime Lobos songwriter, Louie Pérez, about the band’s neighborhood roots.

Crossover Dreams: Latin Music In America

Oct 2, 2018

We’ll sample the sabor latino in American music. Join us for conversation with Los Lobos on their mix of American pop and Mexican traditions. We’ll visit Los Cenzontles, a community arts center in San Francisco dedicated to the teaching of Mexican music, and drop by a Philadelphia radio show spinning salsa hits for the neighborhood. Then, we’ll sit in with pianist and bandleader Oscar Hernandez of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra for some Nuyorican beats and salsa moves. Plus a special performance by San Antonio’s queen of the conjunto accordion, Eva Ybarra.

American Routes Shortcuts: Zigaboo Modeliste

Sep 28, 2018
Zigaboo Modeliste
American Routes

In the 1970s, the Meters brought New Orleans funk to pop music, with second line and Mardi Gras Indian rhythms as spines of their songs. They even added a touch of psychedelia. Keeping the groove going for the Meters was drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste. Nick Spitzer asked Ziggy about how he got his name.

Timekeepers: The Art of Drumming

Sep 25, 2018

This week on American Routes, we’re keeping the beat with drummers and rhythm makers across the genres: everyone from Sun Records’ Rockabilly drummer JM Van Eaton, to jazz percussionist Ben Riley, who had to keep up with the unconventional rhythms of Thelonious Monk. In between, we listen live in-studio to New Orleans’ King of Treme, Shannon Powell, whose music takes us from the church to the streets and beyond.

Fall Fundraiser 2018

Sep 21, 2018
Aretha Franklin
American Routes

After Aretha Franklin signed with Atlantic Records in 1967, producer Jerry Wexler brought her to record in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Known for its local recording studios, including FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound, the Tennessee River town produced many hits and allowed the black and white music worlds to coalesce.  In 1967, Aretha recorded her first big hit, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” at FAME studios, but all did not go smoothly. Studio guitarist Jimmy Johnson tells the story.

Autumn Equinox: Season Change and Autumnal Sounds

Sep 18, 2018

As temperatures begin to dip and the leaves turn color, we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox with a soundtrack for the changing season.

American Routes Shortcuts: Kris Kristofferson

Sep 14, 2018
Kris Kristofferson
American Routes

Our guest is singer-songwriter, actor and counter-culture icon, Kris Kristofferson. He wrote “Me and Bobby McGee” sitting on an offshore oilrig in the Gulf of Mexico 1969. Before the song turned his life around, Kristofferson struggled to make ends meet in Nashville. Whether it was a love song like “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” or the rueful regret of “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” Kris Kristofferson’s straightforward lyrics later reached listeners and other songwriters.