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  • For your consideration, the life of the late George Frayne, an aspiring track star and artist turned rock and roller back during the tumult of the 1960s. You know him as Commander Cody, the pianist and titular leader of the Lost Planet Airmen, an original roots rock band from Ann Arbor to San Francisco and beyond. The band had a large swashbuckling personae, “Lost in the Ozone” on their high road through atmospheric times. The Old Commander says he began life en route to somewhere.
  • We’re celebrating the NEA National Heritage Fellows, and I thought we’d honor a past group of fellows; New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band received the award in 2006. They’ve since brought the tradition forward into the present. It’s the Treme Brass Band live at Artisound Studios in the 9th Ward, with “Shake It and Break It” on American Routes Live.
  • Susan Tedeschi grew up outside of Boston in a family of grocery store owners. Derek Trucks was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, listening to the Allman Brothers, his uncle Butch Trucks’ band. Worlds apart, Susan and Derek each honed their chops at local jams and pursued musical careers destined to collide. Susan attended the Berklee School of Music, toured with the Dead, and released eight solo albums. Derek played guitar in a later lineup of the Allman Brothers for fifteen years and released ten albums under his own name. Now married with two kids, the solo musicians joined forces in 2010 to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I spoke to them in 2017.
  • Steve Masakowski has worked with Allen Toussaint, Mose Allison, Dianne Reeves, and many others. He’s a Blue Note recording artist, member of the fusion group Astral Project, inventor of the keytar, and professor of Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans. Steve is also father to professional musicians Sasha and Martin Masakowski. In 2018, we spoke to all three about their home life, solo careers, and performing together as the Masakowski Family.
  • Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, was the first African American superstar, an artist that mingled regal dignity with sensuality. We’ll sample her recorded legacy, talk with critics and hear memories of her contemporaries from the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
  • Wylie Gustafson grew up in Conrad, Montana, where his father raised quarter horses and rode rodeo. The family also had a cattle ranch up on the Blackfoot Reservation by the Canadian border. While raising fine horses, Wylie built a music career with his band, the Wild West. After playing music in Southern California and training horses in Washington State, Wylie resettled on a ranch back in Montana, where his love of cowboy music had started out with his father.
  • The drummer Ahmir Thompson, is known as Questlove, from the hip-hop band, the Roots. Questlove loves his hometown. He studied at Philadelphia’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts and took his sound to the streets in the late ‘80s. Since then, the Roots have found worldwide success and are the house band on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Back in 2010, I asked Questlove what it’s like to be a musician from Philadelphia.
  • We feature gospel and R&B singer Mavis Staples, from the second installment of our show all about Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan admired the civil rights songs of the Staples Singers and would hear them on tour in the early ‘60s. Mavis Staples remembers when her father, Pops, heard Dylan for the first time and how Dylan’s protest lyrics influenced their family in return.
  • We’ve got saxophonist Sonny Rollins on the essential support from his mother to persevere in jazz. Also Creole accordionist Geno Delafose tells of Mama coming out to the dance hall. And St. Louis soul singer Fontella Bass telling a tale of trying to take a train out of town, until her mother found out.
  • This is American Routes, our program, “How many Roads? Bob Dylan’s Back Pages.” Joan Baez sang and recorded many of Bob’s songs of love and loss.