After Halloween celebrations die down and All Saints meditations arrive, we settle back with the mellow music and words of our guest Lazy Lester: a hardworking bluesman from Louisiana’s provincial capitol of Baton Rouge. Then a tour of the world of African and African-American music from Morocco to Brooklyn with jazz pianist Randy Weston.
As the Hallows approach, find out why New Orleans is the vampire capital of North America. Special guests: Romanian poet and NPR essayist Andrei Codrescu, and native novelist Anne Rice. Potentially frightening musicians like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Dr. John, and Miles Davis; plus songs such as “That Old Black Magic,” “Stones in My Passway,” and “Midnight Rambler.”
Or, if you like, sing a song about someone you know. There are so many great names in music and song that our first show on the topic couldn’t hold ‘em all, so here’s the sequel. From “Corina” and “Lucille” to “Lost John” and “Little Joe the Wrangler,” hear songs named after characters real and fictitious. Our guest Shemekia Copeland is a 22-year-old singer with a noted father in the blues (Johnny Copeland), who’s now making a name for herself. Plus nick name origins from American Joe to Zydeco Joe.
A visit with legendary bandsmen including roots rocker Robbie Robertson and California jazz bandleader Johnny Otis. Robertson was a prime mover behind The Band, who, along with the Grateful Dead and others, defined the image and sound of American rock with folk roots in the 1960s and ’70s. Johnny Otis shaped the West Coast jump boogie sound, working with artists such as Jackie Wilson, Big Mama Thornton, and Etta James. Also a trip back in time to the Dew Drop Inn, a halcyon New Orleans nightclub which also served as a hotel, eatery, barber shop and post office. We’ll hear about one of the Dew Drop’s most infamous characters, female impersonator and R & B singer Patsy Vidalia.
American Routes explores the music associated with outlaws and life behind bars, from “Ball and Chain” to “Jailhouse Rock,” from Johnny Cash’s San Quentin show to Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special.” Our guests include Marle Haggard and Aaron Neville. Plus a visit to the “Wildest Show in the South”—the Angola Louisiana Prison Rodeo.