ELLIS MARSALIS REMEMBERED: FAMILY MEMORIES & MUSIC WITH BRANFORD, WYNTON, DELFEAYO AND JASON MARSALIS
There is no more recognizable family name in jazz from New Orleans and beyond than: Marsalis. We’re paying tribute to the late pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. who passed of Covid-19 in April 2020, and to his musical sons Branford (saxophone), Wynton (trumpet), Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums and vibraphone). The conversation ranges from coming of age in a family of musicians, with expectations of performing at the highest level, to the interplay of traditional and modern jazz in New Orleans. Previously unheard are Wynton’s remarkable memorial oration and a live set with youngest son Jason Marsalis playing the music of his late father. It’s the enduring and thriving musical legacy of the Marsalis family this week on American Routes.
Country singer Kelsey Waldon grew up in the Ohio River bottoms of Ballard County Kentucky-a place called “Monkey’s Eyebrow” where her family has farmed for generations. She tells us about her journey as a songwriter, and her friendship with another hero of Kentucky, John Prine. Then a live set of New Orleans jazz and its Caribbean cousins with the widely acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, Aurora Nealand and her quartet at Artisound Studios in New Orleans 9th Ward.
For St. Patrick’s, it’s old and new cultural connections of singers, fiddlers and pickers from Ireland to rural and urban America. Reels and jigs for dancing, jazz takes on Irish tunes and songs about love, immigration and drinking from Hank Locklin, The Clancy Brothers and Louis Armstrong. Then a live set from the 80th National Folk Festival exploring the musical connections of Ireland and Appalachia with Irish musicians John Doyle and Seamus Egan and bluegrassers Rob and Ronnie McCoury.
TRUE BELIEVERS AND HARDWORKING TROUBADOURS: POST-PUNK FOLKSINGER, LEE BAINS, & SWAMP POP HERO, TOMMY MCLAIN
It’s true believers and hardworking troubadours. First, Lee Bains, Birmingham, Alabama’s post-punk folk singer whose songs seek social justice, inclusive humanity and protection of the environs as a sacred quest. Then, octogenarian Louisiana Swamp Pop hero Tommy McLain, who brought his classic ’60s songs and music mix of country, blues, rock, and gospel to clubs and casinos, now recording with Elvis Costello and touring with Nick Lowe. Plus music from Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, Little Richard and Marcia Ball.
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BANJO/GUITARIST DANNY BARKER & AMERICAN ROUTES LIVE WITH DETROIT BROOKS AND HIS SYNCOPATED PERCOLATORS
New Orleans musician and raconteur Danny Barker was a banjo and guitar hero – a major player in New York jazz who never forgot his French Creole roots in song and style. We look back on Danny’s career, his life with wife and collaborator, the singer Blue Lu Barker, and his influence sustaining culture in the Crescent City. Then, current day guitar and banjo man, Detroit Brooks pays tribute to the Barker legacy with his band the Syncopated Percolators live at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.