American Routes heralds the 100th birthday of our nation’s greatest roving troubadour and social commentator, Woody Guthrie, with a two-hour special dedicated to his life in music. We’ll visit with friends and relatives who share tales of Guthrie’s trials and triumphs, from Okemah, Oklahoma to Coney Island, New York. Guthrie’s children, Nora and Arlo, reflect on their father’s life, scholar Guy Logsdon discusses Guthrie’s Dust Bowl days and Pete Seeger shares the backstory to Woody’s anthem for the “down and outers.” Plus music and memories from Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Moses Asch, Bob Dylan and so many others.
Singer Mavis Staples grew up singing blues-inflected gospel with her family in Chicago, lead by her father Pops Staples’ 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.
We’re sitting down this week with two bands who make their hometowns proud. The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, from Akron, Ohio, have roots in the blues and rock but construct a sound all their own. We chat with them backstage at a performance in the Crescent City. Then New Orleans brass band innovators the Soul Rebels talk about bringing the sounds of the streets to clubs around the world.
Celebrate the National Folk Festival with American Routes. For over 70 years, the National Folk Festival has traveled from coast to coast, bringing the music of the people to the people. We’ll head to the old mining town of Butte, Montana to meet the folks who recently put on the show and the city that came out to see them. Then we’ll mine the archives and listen in on classic moments from past National Folk Festivals. All this plus music to get you in the summer festival frame of mind.