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All eyes are on the 2004 election. With this American Routes Music & Politics special we ask you to lend your ears to the democratic process as we bring you songs by and about politicians — including John Kerry’s high school rock band — protest music, campaign songs and more. Guests include Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia on fiddling to get elected; Cook County Commissioner and soul singer Jerry Butler discusses the difference between performance and politics; former Sec. of the Interior Stewart Udall recalls music in the Kennedy White House; and the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin, wonders if we’ll have a guitar-picking president. Plus topical music from Howlin’ Wolf, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Grateful Dead. Democracy is the best sound around.


It’s the time of the season when we gather together to celebrate the harvest… and maybe reflect on the work we’ve done—all in words and music. It’s also getting cold, and it’s a good time to be indoors by the radio to hear autumnal sounds and colors in music. Our guests include bluegrass traditionalist Del McCoury, who speaks about his days on the farm and logging the forests of Pennsylvania, as well as his bluesy “high lonesome” sound. Popular singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant reflects on the role of music in the seasons of her life and tells about her recent recording, The House Carpenter’s Daughter. Plus sounds and wiffs of the “angels’ share” from the barrel room of the Old Forrester Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. We’ll post the scratch and sniff soon.


American Routes takes a peek at the producers, sidemen and record company moguls who can make or break a record. New Orleans saxophonist Harold Battiste on playing with Ornette Coleman, acting as music director for Sonny & Cher, and founding his own jazz and blues label. Plus the inside story on Muddy Waters’ much maligned, but imaginative, 1968 album Electric Mud, by producer Marshall Chess and musicians Pete Cosey and Louis Satterfield.


Feel the thrill of victory as we hear the connections between sports and music in American life. With the World Series upon us, we’ll hear songs about baseball and its heroes in jazz and blues, country and folk. Plus comments from Yankee centerfielder and guitarist, Bernie Williams and 1969 Miracle Met (and music lover) Ron Swoboda. And get tips on hitting and the harmonica from Stan “The Man” Musial. In hour two, it’s the music of basketball, boxing, horseracing and football. Meet the bugler at Churchill Downs, and hear about the pull of music in his life from pianist and New Orleans Saints’ cornerback, Ashley Ambrose. See you at the game.