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Lay back and take it easy while American Routes totes that barge for you with songs and stories of work on this holiday weekend. We remember Robert Young, better known as Washboard Slim, and learn how a work implement becomes a musical instrument. Plus words and music of French Louisiana from the recent documentary I Always Do My Collars First. And meet some local five o’clock heroes — the drivers and mechanics that keep the New Orleans streetcars rolling, as well as the men and women that ride them.


Two years after levee failure submerged much of New Orleans, we walk through the streets of the city with an eye towards rebuilding and repopulating. Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, leads us through the renovations of her once-devastated home and the recording of her Grammy-winning post-Katrina album. Join in the second line as we take you to a street parade with New Orleans’ own James Andrews and members of the Rebirth Brass Band. Finally, celebrate on stage with the oldest-working New Orleans musician as trumpeter and retired tinsmith Lionel Ferbos makes 96!


Allons! Join in as American Routes heads west from our New Orleans studio to Southwestern French Louisiana. For a small area on the map, this area of the state has produced a huge amount of music. We’ll speak with swamp popper Rod Bernard about his breakout hit, “This Could Go On Forever.” Guitarist Lil’ Buck Sinegal recalls the heyday of Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band. There’s a historic interview with the late fiddler that helped break Cajun music to the world, Dewey Balfa. Plus, a live set with Creole accordion player Zydeco Joe.


It’s old-time country and folk, as seen from the two very different viewpoints of our guests. Jolie Holland is a young singer-songwriter whose sound incorporates a distinct vision—sometimes dark and somewhat hallucinatory—of blues and country from another era. Homer Bailes is the last remaining member of 1940s country superstar family band the Bailes Brothers. His stern outlook on life, illustrated by songs like “Whiskey is the Devil in Liquid Form,” remains unchanged over half a century later.


Tune in for a tribute to the man who melded gospel, soul and pop in music and life, Sam Cooke. We’ll follow the singer from Clarksdale to Chicago and from the church to the Copa as he revolutionized gospel music with the Soul Stirrers, and then secular music with self-penned hits “You Send Me,” “Change is Gonna Come,” and more. Plus an hour of the musical roots and branches of Sam Cooke.