american routes shortcuts

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.

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.

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.

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.

American Routes Shortcuts: Margo Price

Sep 7, 2018
Margo Price
American Routes

Margo Price brings Midwestern working class credentials to country music. From Aledo, Illinois, Margo followed her uncle Bobby Fisher’s footsteps as a Nashville songwriter. While working odd jobs, Margo formed the Pricetags, who joined her on the 2016 debut album, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.” Price has always been outspoken about the rights of women and the working class, subjects she’s channeled into her music.

Doug Kershaw
American Routes

Cajun musician Doug Kershaw was born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936. He started playing fiddle at age five and gigged with his mom at a bar called the Bucket of Blood, near their coastal home. By his late teens, Doug Kershaw joined with brother Rusty on guitar to play a mix of country and Cajun music. The duo joined the cast of the Louisiana Hayride and later the Grand Ole Opry.

American Routes Shortcuts: Cedric Burnside

Aug 17, 2018
Cedric Burnside
American Routes

Cedric Burnside heard hill country blues from his grandfather, R.L. Burnside, also known as Big Daddy. As a youth, Cedric toured with Big Daddy playing drums in his band and with elders Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill. Once of age, Cedric formed the “Juke Joint Duo” with friend Lightnin’ Malcolm, and later the Cedric Burnside Project. His 2015 album Descendants of Hill Country was nominated for a Grammy. But it began for him living with his grandparents in Holly Springs, MS.

John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk
American Routes

When John Coltrane finished high school in 1943, the 17 year old moved from North Carolina to Philadelphia, joining his mother, Alice, who worked as a domestic. Soon after his arrival, she bought him an alto sax. In the small apartment on 12th Street, he began a life of intense practice. Coltrane’s talents grew in the city’s vibrant jazz scene in the 1940s. Young Coltrane took theory classes at a local music school, and then went to night school in the clubs, with professors of jazz like Dizzy Gillespie, R&B sax man Earl Bostic, and alto player Johnny Hodges.

American Routes Shortcuts: Brandi Carlile

Aug 3, 2018
Brandi Carlile
American Routes

Songmaker Brandi Carlile was raised in the Northwest country, but has lived half her life on the road as a gigging musician. After dropping out of high school, Brandi busked on the streets of Seattle, where she met long-time collaborators, the twin brothers, Tim and Phil Hanseroth. She quickly signed to Columbia Records for a self-titled album. Since then, Brandi has made acclaimed records with producers T-Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin. She went it alone in 2015 for Firewatcher's Daughter earning a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album.

Jimmy C. Newman
American Routes

Jimmy C. Newman grew up in French Louisiana, hearing Cajun music as well as Gene Autry and other country musicians. He began playing with Chuck Guillory’s Rhythm Boys. Later he played on the Louisiana Hayride, and in 1956, he joined the Grand Ole Opry. Even with commercial success as a country music star, Newman recalled his roots, introducing a wider audience to Cajun sounds. After his passing in 2014, producer and musician Joel Savoy teamed up with Jimmy’s son Gary Newman, to record a tribute, “Farewell, Alligator Man,” released on Valcour Records in 2017.  Here’s Gary.