This Labor Day weekend, we’re rockin’ from the French Quarter Festival: a free, homegrown, four-day annual event featuring a vast array of local music presented on stages throughout the city’s oldest neighborhood. We’ll hear from trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, Creole banjo man Don Vappie, zydeco accordionist Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and his Sunspots, the all-female Original Pinettes Brass Band, Latin rockers the Iguanas, and trombonist Corey Henry’s Tremé Funket. Join us for music to chill by for the working women and men of our United States.
In this special program, we uncover the music and cultural traditions of Los Angeles: from Hollywood to neighborhood. Join us as we travel across the City of Angels to hear from L.A. legends—including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and songwriter Randy Newman— and explore musical cultures with Cambodian-born rapper PraCh Ly in Long Beach, Louisiana Creole zydeco accordionist T-Lou in South Central, and East L.A.‘s Ersi Arvizu. Plus conversations and music from Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos, R & B saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, and rockabilly guitarist Glen Glenn. Along the way we visit L.A. musical landmarks— including the famed Capitol Records recording studios.
We’re taking a trip to Tinseltown to explore the music that brings movies to life. We’ll hear from trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, who worked on soundtracks for almost all of Spike Lee’s films, including 2018’s Oscar-nominated BlacKkKlansman. Then, we delve into the life and music of pianist Don Shirley in Green Book, and revisit a jaunty conversation with the Coen Brothers about the songs featured in their offbeat films, such as The Big Lebowski, True Grit, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Plus, music from Pulp Fiction, Cadillac Records, The Big Easy, and Baby Driver. So please, silence your cell phones, and set your radio for “picture” on American Routes.
We explore the sonic hues of the blues in jazz, R & B, country, Cajun and pop. We’ll hear blues inflections in the music of Gene Vincent and George Jones, Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell. Then we crash a blues house party at the National Folk Festival for music and conversation with British rocker Albert Lee, Piedmont harmonica master Phil Wiggins, St. Louis guitarist Marquise Knox, and Cajun accordionist Steve Riley. We’re looking toward blue skies and blue horizons on American Routes!