American Routes celebrates this Thanksgiving weekend with words and music from the National Heritage Fellows. Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has presented the fellowships. It’s America’s highest honor in Folk & Traditional Arts. This year’s Fellows include soul singer and songwriter William Bell, Armenian folk and liturgical singer Onnik Dinkjian, West African diasporic dancers Zakarya and Naomi Diouf, Iroquois raised beadworker Karen Ann Hoffman, traditional religious dancers Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz de Ladrillera, founder of Radio Bilingue, Hugo Morales, old-time fiddler and banjo player John Morris, Anishinaabe birchbark canoe builder Wayne Valliere and Nueva Cancion singer and songwriter Suni Paz. Plus Fellows from years gone by: Mavis Staples, Ralph Stanley, Michael Doucet, Wanda Jackson, Doc Watson, Carol Fran, Flaco Jimenez, Andy Statman and Dr. Michael White.
We’re bringing the blues from the clubs to the church this week on American Routes. The Campbell Brothers, from Rochester, NY, are masters of sacred steel. With both pedal and lap steel guitars, they summon the spirit in voice and sound. We’ll talk about growing up in the church and playing gospel blues on the guitar. Then, New Orleans bluesman Walter “Wolfman” Washington stops by the American Routes studio for a conversation about his life in the music and in the clubs around town.
It’s American Routes Live in concert and conversation with musicians from rural Cajun and New Orleans Creole life. Singer Songwriter Zachary Richard has been called the most American of French songwriters and the most French of American songwriters. We’ll visit with him and his band live at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana for a walk through his nearly 50 year catalog of songs. Then Creole jazz banjoman Don Vappie updates musical history while keeping the New Orleans traditional sound alive, live from Marigny Studios near the French Quarter.
The late Texas singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver was a prolific composer who drew inspiration from his life experiences: turning horses to working in a sawmill; his relationship with religion and his family. All raw material for honing classic country songs, many of which are anthemic in the Outlaw Country music scene of yore. Then, the former Crawfish Queen of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Yvette Landry, shares stories of coming to music and song-making later in life, and her work with the “Godfather of Swamp Pop,” Warren Storm. Plus words and music from Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball and Fats Domino.