It has been five years since Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the Federal levee system in New Orleans, and we speak with local activists, musicians and residents to gauge the progress of recovery in the city and region. Rebirth Brass Band’s Derrick Tabb talks about his after-school program “The Roots of Music;” we visit the Musician’s Village in the 9th Ward to meet drummer Smokey Johnson; then head out into the bayous with blues guitarist Tab Benoit to talk about his work to save the wetlands. Also, conversation with Eric Overmyer and Lolis Eric Elie from HBO’s “Treme,” and commentary from New Orleanian James Carville on the importance of the culture of the city.
Come meet us at the club as we jump into two distinct American musics: go-go and zydeco. From the nation’s capital, we’ll visit with the “Godfather of Go-Go,” funk and jazz guitarist Chuck Brown, who’ll explain the finer points of jamming and showing the audience some love. Then we’re back in Louisiana getting down to the Creole sounds of zydeco with the Creole cowboy Jeffrey Broussard, whose fiddle and accordion playing brings the music back its source. The son of the late accordion legend Delton Broussard, Jeffery knows the deep roots of d’vrais zarico (real zydeco), but also the appeal of tradition in a modern sound.
American Routes takes a trip through the music of the Yellowhammer State—Alabama. Visit the Muscle Shoals Sound studio and find out what’s in the water around “the Shoals” to make it a historic hotbed for R&B hits by Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and more. Also, a trip through Hank Williams’ childhood home in Georgiana, and the W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence. And music from Shelby Lynne, the Birmingham Sunlights and the Delmore Brothers.
Elemental blues, jazz and country from two performers with deep roots and cosmic connections. In the ’60s, young Tracy Nelson left the midwest for psychedelic San Francisco to front the R&B rock band Mother Earth. Now deep in the Tennessee hills, she’s looking back to country sounds. From South Carolina to deep space, guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer takes us on his journey from childhood gospel to free-form harmolodic jazz with Ornette Coleman. Blood now brings it all to bear on a brutal, personal version of the blues.