From creation to criticism, American Routes explores the relationship between language and sounds, words and music. Rock and roll originator Chuck Berry, alt country traditionalist Gillian Welch, and New Yorker music writer and novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) give a variety of perspectives on the subject along with a mix of celebrated songwriters, storytellers, and literary heroes of American music.
We celebrate our chosen medium, scanning the dial in search of great voices, characters and shows that grace the airwaves locally and nationwide, today and yesterday. Included are Ann Arbor/New Orleans legend John Sinclair, an old-time country station based in a Mt. Airy, North Carolina log cabin, and Rev. Izeer’s “Spiritual Workshop” from Jackson, MS.
Two years after his passing, American Routes remembers Alan Lomax, the great folklorist, musicologist, and documentarian. While working mostly for the Library of Congress, Lomax made groundbreaking recordings with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Jelly Roll Morton, Muddy Waters and countless others. Family and friends, contemporaries and musicians recall his many accomplishments. Lomax’s sometime collaborator Pete Seeger took a different route as a singer of folksongs. The great social activist, environmentalist, and banjoman, Pete Seeger speaks of his life in music and social justice—two things he’s brought together for over 60 years.
A visit with the mysterious pop antiquarian Leon Redbone. And closer to home, Steve Riley and David Greely of the Mamou Playboys play new Cajun music live in our studios. Also, Emmylou Harris, Jerry Douglas and others remember the country musician and riverboat captain John Hartford.