American Routes cruises the musical map of Detroit, catching the sights and sounds of the Motor City. From Hamtramck to Dearborn, we’ll meet the proud people who made the cars and played the bars. Jazz modernist Yusef Lateef tells of his time on the assembly line. Smokey Robinson talks about growing up with Motown’s future stars. We’ll learn how to construct a hit record from Motown studio insiders, then visit a raccoon hunters club, known for bluegrass jams. Plus rockabilly stars, dream cars and polka bands… all from Detroit.
This week on American Routes, we hear from great songwriters and performers and those who emulate them. Original songs can take on new form and meaning when interpreted by different voices, and we’ll hear some of those renditions and transformations this week. We’ll hear the rocking Southern sound of the Drive-By Truckers covering Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles doing Hank Williams. Our guest William Bell, from Memphis, will tell us all about his music being played by the Byrds, and bluesman Albert King. And we’ll go live on stage in Northampton Massachusetts with folk-blues guitarist Chris Smither for songs and stories.
From the heart of French Louisiana to the streets of New York, American Routes is mixing it up this week with two giants of their genres. We visit with jazz great Dr. Lonnie Smith, whose mastery of the music is synonymous with his ever-present Hammond B3 organ. We drop down deep in the pocket with Lonnie, and get keyed in to the past and present of soul and jazz. And out on the Cajun and Creole prairies we drop in on zydeco accordionist and Grammy award winner Terrance Simien. Plus jazz, blues and country tunes from keyboard masters of all kinds.
The singer-songwriter Ben Harper has been on the scene since the early ’90s, but has more recently been digging deeper into the blues with the legendary harpman Charlie Musselwhite. We’ll talk with Ben about the musical journey from his family’s music store to what he calls his “graduation” album. Then an in-studio conversation with a guitarist who has played with Sun Ra and now plays banjo with Preservation Hall, New Orleans’ own Carl LeBlanc.