american routes shortcuts

American Routes Shortcuts: Big Jay McNeely

Aug 23, 2019
Big Jay McNeely
American Routes

At the most human scale Los Angeles is defined by the scenes along legendary streets: Sunset Boulevard, Melrose, La Brea, and Central Avenue. Beginning in the 1920s, Central Avenue was the place to hear jazz, later R&B and bebop. For the late tenor sax player Big Jay McNeely, the scene began on Central Avenue.

American Routes Shortcuts: The Coen Brothers

Aug 16, 2019
The Coen Brothers
American Routes

Words like “quirky,” “ironic,” “funny,” and “violent” describe the films of the Coen Brothers. From their first film Blood Simple in 1984 to True Grit in 2010, and then Inside Llewyn Davis and 2018s Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel and Ethan Coen have defied expectations, twisted genres, and reworked classic story lines around characters, like the Dude.

American Routes Shortcuts: Marquise Knox

Aug 9, 2019
Marquise Knox
American Routes

This week we’re exploring the sonic hues of the blues in jazz, R & B, country, Cajun and pop. We crash a blues house party and workshop at the 2018 National Folk Festival in Salisbury, Maryland, where we speak with twenty-eight-year-old St. Louis guitarist Marquise Knox. 


Nick Spitzer: I’m Nick Spitzer with American Routes, onstage at the 2018 National Folk Festival in Salisbury, Maryland, where we’re going to speak with the St. Louis guitarist Marquise Knox about how he found the blues. 

American Routes Shortcuts: Remembering Art Neville

Aug 2, 2019
Art Neville
American Routes

The Neville Brothers are famed for their fiery soul and funk, blues and ballads, Caribbean and Crescent City rhythms. They are Art, Aaron, Charles and Cyril Neville. Art Neville passed away at 82 on July 22, 2019. He lived in the family home on Valence Street until his recent passing. 

American Routes Shortcuts: Bill Ferris

Jul 26, 2019
Son Thomas
Bill Ferris

Bill Ferris grew up on a farm near Vicksburg, Mississippi, hearing music from the neighboring black community. In the 1960s and ‘70s, he documented work songs and gospel singing at Parchman Penitentiary, the blues at juke joints and house parties, and folk art and crafts in the Mississippi delta and hill country.  Now professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina, Bill Ferris recently compiled his recordings in the Voices of Mississippi boxed set. Bill tells of capturing the sound of the diddley bow and its role in Delta blues.

American Routes Shortcuts: John Mayall

Jul 19, 2019
John Mayall
David Gomez

John Mayall and his band the Bluesbreakers pioneered British blues rock, introducing it to a larger audience. They included musicians who went on to join legendary bands like Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones. Mayall moved to the states in '68, and today has a discography of 70 albums. At 85, John still tours widely and then comes home to his favorite climate and way of life in Los Angeles, but it was in Macclesfield, Cheshire where he first heard the blues. 

Dave Bartholomew
American Routes

Dave Bartholomew was the force connecting New Orleans jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, from the 1940s to the 1960s. Born in 1918, upriver in Edgard, Bartholomew was raised in New Orleans, where his father was a barber and a tuba player. His trumpet teacher was Peter Davis who had taught Louis Armstrong a generation prior. 

Irma Thomas
American Routes

This Independence Day weekend, we celebrate the cultural minglings in New Orleans, whose unparalleled diversity gave birth to some of the most revolutionary sounds in American music. We’ll go live at the French Quarter Festival to hear music that expresses what Americans share culturally. On this special Fourth of July program, Nick Spitzer reflects on jazz as one of the great American freedom statements.  

American Routes Shortcuts: Jim Lauderdale

Jun 28, 2019
Jim Lauderdale
American Routes

Americana icon Jim Lauderdale followed his love of music from the Carolinas to Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. Despite great songs, his genre-defying style made it hard to get a record deal. Now considered a songwriting legend, Lauderdale has penned tunes for George Strait, Patty Loveless and Solomon Burke, collaborated with Willie Nelson, Ralph Stanley and the Grateful Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter. Lauderdale was inspired when he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.

American Routes Shortcuts: Remembering Dr. John

Jun 21, 2019
Dr. John
American Routes

New Orleans’ soulful hoodoo rock and roller and carnivalesque hero Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, passed away on June 6, 2019. Within a day, the city’s streets filled with mourners honoring his legacy of high funknology in the verbal, musical and spiritual arts. This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we celebrate the beloved music and life of our friend, the late legendary Dr. John, by revisiting an interview with him from the 2013 Americana Music Festival in Nashville.