American Routes delves into the colorful convergence of art and music… from artist musicians, to painterly album covers and audacious poster art. Richie Havens was one such artist turned musician. We’ll learn about his tenure as a Greenwich Village portraitist and his legendary opening act at Woodstock. Then conversation with artist Peter Max, known for his pop-art colors, cosmic subjects and iconic album covers. And a visit to Nashville’s Hatch Show Print, who printed posters for musicians from Bessie Smith to Johnny Cash, for a primer on the art of letterpress.
We profile two men that begin in classical and jazz and move in different directions. Buttressed by a conservatory background, French horn player and composer David Amram moves freely and eclectically across genres of Latin, jazz, folk and classical music. Blind pianist Marcus Roberts speaks about his time spent as protege of Wynton Marsalis and looking back over the history of jazz to his touchstones, James P. Johnson, Monk, Jelly Roll Morton and others.
Singer Mavis Staples grew up singing blues-inflected gospel with her family in Chicago, lead by her father Pops Staples’s distinctive voice and guitar style. Their sound transcended the local scene, translating the message of the Civil Rights movement into song. We’ll talk with Mavis about her latest efforts with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Then, we’ll sit in while jazz songsmith Bob Dorough spins stories of the 1950s jazz world and takes us back to Schoolhouse Rock to share his thoughts on the magical properties of the number 3.
This week we are visited by two men with legendary voices, in country and soul, famous for their duets and more. From the cotton patches of East Texas, George Jones remains one of the most distinctive voices in country music or otherwise. Known as “The King of Broken Hearts,” his hits through the ’60s and ’70s remain the high water mark for country ballads. Sam Moore, formerly of Sam & Dave, recalls his early days as a gospel singer in Miami and his conversion to pop. As a ’60s “Soul Man” he recorded a string of jukebox classics, then pressed through difficult times and has emerged with a second career on his own.