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American Routes Shortcuts: May the Fourth Be With Us!

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National Council for the Traditional Arts
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July 4, 1993 on the National Mall

We've been digging in the archives for a series of live concerts between 1993-2001 in front of a million people annually on the National Mall from the Washington Monument to the White House fence and millions more on public radio nationwide. It was the roots of American Routes. I was lucky enough to serve as artistic director for the concerts, sometime stage and radio host. Coming up we'll hear the late bluesy pianoman/singer Charles Brown and band, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, Hawaiian slack key guitar music and Western swing from the Texas Playboys. First, from New Orleans, it’s the Original Tuxedo Brass band, with pianist Henry Butler.

“Do What You Wanna” Bob French and the Young Tuxedo Jazz Band
American Roots Fourth of July Concert in Washington DC 2000 Original Recording

“Texas Playboys Theme” The Texas Playboys
American Roots Fourth of July Concert in Washington DC 1993 Original Recording

Nick Spitzer: Onstage at the Washington Monument in 1993 with members of the late bandleader Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys including singer Leon Rauch, fiddler Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington steel guitar and the rest of the band. Up next are Hawaiian guitarist Ledward Kaapana from the tiny village of Kalapana on the big Island, where he grew up in a musical family. His partner was the late ukulele player and singer from the Hawaiian cowboy or Paniolo tradition, Clyde “Kindy” Sproat. Let’s go to the stage at the Washington Monument in 1998 where Ledward Kaapana is welcoming the crowd.

Ledward Kaapana: Aloha. What a multitude. You know I live in a little district there with 5,000 people. And I thought I was being overcrowded. But when I see this, now I know what the word multitude means. And I’m not going to say any more when I get home. The next song I’d like to do is called “Ku’u Hoa Hololio,” “My Companion the Horse,” “My Horse Riding Companion.” This song was written by Alice Nāmakelua, and since the governor of Hawaii has declared 1998 the year of the Paniolo, the year of the cowboys. And believe it or not the Hawaiians have the oldest cowboys in America. By 1836, we had working cowboys. So that means that Hawaii had cowboys before there was a state of Texas. This song, “Ku’u Hoa Hololio,” written by Auntie Alice Nāmakelua, she wrote this, and she dedicated it to the cowboys in Hawaii, especially the Parker Ranch cowboys.

“My Companion the Horse” Ledward Kaapana and Clyde “Kindy” Sproat
American Roots Fourth of July Concert in Washington DC 1998 Original Recording

To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 5 and Sundays at 6 on WWNO, or listen at americanroutes.org.