We reach for “mystic chords of memory” with singer-songwriter Joe Ely and gospel/soul man Roscoe Robinson to hear about the ground they’ve covered as veteran touring musicians. Joe starts us off in Lubbock, Texas, where he grew up, and tells of railroading across America, running off with the circus, musical explorations with the Flatlanders and his role in Austin’s Cosmic Cowboy scene. Roscoe, now in his 91st orbit around the sun, remembers his childhood in Dermott, Arkansas, the family’s migration north, traveling the gospel circuit through the Jim Crow South, taking the stage at the Apollo Theater and his life-long spiritual journey. We spin travel tunes from artists’ influences like Buddy Holly, Flaco Jimenez and the Staple Singers; plus, some pre-election reflection songs from Johnny Cash, Lauryn Hill and Keb Mo.
To usher in the season of the witch, we invoke the power of hoodoo charms and haunted melodies, blood moons and black magic. And we hang with the Bay Area’s artsy punk rockers Shannon & the Clams as they tell of ghostly encounters, spirit animals and memories from Halloweens past. Plus, spooky chills and thrills from Miles Davis, Memphis Minnie and Hank Williams.
We pay tribute to the late Fats Domino with our favorite of the New Orleans piano man’s Imperial releases. And we hear the Fat Man’s reflective side in a rare 2007 conversation with him about escaping Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters and how his faith saw him through. Veteran blues harp player Billy “Boy” Arnold tells of South Side Chicago’s early rhythm & blues scene, recording with Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino’s role in pushing black music across the color line. Then, we look back to post-war England with session guitarist Albert Lee who grew up hearing American music on the radio and eventually crossed the pond to play rock & roll stateside. Plus, we explore the roots of rock with blues harpist Little Walter, western swingers Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys and rockabilly picker Carl Perkins.
It’s a two-hour tribute in song and story to the Man in Black. We’ll hear from his family, friends and associates on the contradictions—preacher, outlaw, loving family man, rockabilly rebel—that made the man. Voices include Rosanne Cash; son John Carter Cash; sister Joanne Yates; bassist and original member of the Tennessee Two Marshall Grant; guitarist Johnny Western; producer Rick Rubin; long-time manager Lou Robin; writer and critic Michael Streissguth; and, of course, Johnny Cash.
We’ll sample the sabor latino in American music. Join us for conversation with Los Lobos on their mix of American pop and Mexican traditions. We’ll visit Los Cenzontles, a community arts center in San Francisco dedicated to the teaching of Mexican music, and drop by a Philadelphia radio show spinning salsa hits for the neighborhood. Then, we’ll sit in with pianist and bandleader Oscar Hernandez of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra for some Nuyorican beats and salsa moves. Plus a special performance by San Antonio’s queen of the conjunto accordion, Eva Ybarra.