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  • I first visited with Norah Jones almost 20 years ago– you can see her hanging out at our old studios on the American Routes website. She was touring then with her first record, “Come Away With Me.” That went on to garner five Grammys. We dug into our archives for the second interview with Norah in 2011, talking about her country group, the Little Willies, and musical friends, including singer songwriter Richard Julian. Norah says the band owes a debt to “Wurlitzer Prize” by Willie Nelson’s old friend, the late Waylon Jennings.
  • From our archives, it’s a visit with Yale anthropologist David Watts, an old friend of mine. David loves jazz and plays classical violin, but his true virtuosity is in the savannas and rain forests of East Africa, where he has long walked and worked gracefully among wild primates. David's been in it long enough that he's named many of his wild-primate colleagues after movie stars, classical composers, and jazz musicians. I asked him why we are so attracted to gorillas, monkeys and chimps.
  • Fiddler and banjo player John Morris grew up in Clay County, West Virginia’s old-time music traditions. He learned banjo from his grandfather and guitar from his mother. John picked up the fiddle, absorbing tunes and stories of local fiddlers. He and his brother David played together as the Morris Brothers and started the Morris Family Old-Time Music Festival at their family home in Ivydale. John shared the story of how they got the festival started.
  • Lonnie Holley from Birmingham, Alabama is a self-taught artist and musician who uses everyday objects as sculpture that tells stories. Lonnie had a rough childhood, living with an abusive foster family who ran honky-tonk, where he was nicknamed “Tonky” McElroy. Lonnie tried to escape, hopping a train to New Orleans at nine. He was arrested at eleven and taken to the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, where Lonnie was made to pick one hundred pounds of cotton. His grandmother rescued him from the school and told him his name wasn’t Tonky McElroy but Lonnie Bradley Holley. For the last forty years, Holley has constructed artworks that have been seen at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, New York’s American Folk Art Museum, the High Museum in Atlanta, and the White House. After making home recordings for more than two decades on a keyboard Lonnie bought at a pawnshop, he released his first album at age sixty-two. His sound is experimental with lyrics improvised on the spot. Lonnie Holley explained how his artistic appreciation and ability stemmed from life at home with a large family.
  • We don't associate the music of rural French Louisiana so much with the guitar–it tends to play second fiddle to the accordion and to the fiddle. But the late Buck Sinegal made a name for himself as a rhythm & lead guitarist for zydeco, blues, and rhythm & blues music in his hometown of Lafayette. As a high school student in the 50s, Buck played in a series of R & B bands before reconnecting to his French roots with zydeco king Clifton Chenier. Buck told us about growing up in a French Creole household.
  • Somewhere on our journey over the past two decades at American Routes, we started talking about “guilty pleasures” shows, where old free form radio roots called for the pleasure of old favorites and new discoveries. But since we broadcast from New Orleans, we’ll drop the word guilty and roll on.
  • Baby Washington grew up in Harlem and became a noted R&B solo singer for Neptune Records with hits like “The Time” and then “That’s How Heartaches are Made” for Sue Records. But she started her career as a girl group singer, with the Hearts and the Jaynetts. Baby shared with me stories from the road and the stage including a pivotal moment that occurred backstage with the Hearts.
  • Our guest is jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock. Hancock began in the early ‘60s with acoustic piano jazz like Takin' Off, featuring the now famous "Watermelon Man," followed by concept albums animated by water spirits like Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage in 1964 and ‘65. His band included emerging jazz heroes like Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Herbie Hancock was a classically trained child prodigy from Chicago who later majored in music and electrical engineering. He went on to play keyboards for Miles Davis on definitive recordings: Sorcerer, In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Herbie Hancock integrated electronic funk into the music and had pop success with Headhunters and the MTV hit, "Rockit." I asked the enduring composer, arranger, producer, and player how his jazz education began.
  • This is American Routes Live from Esplanade Studios with Jason Marsalis and his quintet. Jason is the sixth son of Dolores and Ellis Marsalis Jr. Three of his siblings are jazz musicians: trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, and trombonist Delfeayo. Jason is the timekeeper who played with his father and notable others: Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton and Marcus Roberts. Pianist, composer, teacher and father, Ellis Marsalis Jr. passed on April 1st, 2020. I asked Jason Marsalis about his father, known as a modernist, about his relationship to New Orleans traditional jazz.
  • It’s a Spring Awakening, and we’ve got songs about bunny hops, rockin’ robins, and fragrant flowers but also lonely hours, gospel prayers and post…