It’s Halloween night, then Toussaint (All Saints Day) and All Souls Day, also Dia de los Muertos. We mark the season with songs and stories of hauntings, voodoo, and the afterlife in a devout and disruptive mix that honors and humors the dead, past and present. Hear from native New Orleanians Dr. John and Charles Neville about their encounters with the spirit world, and a trip to the local botanica in search of potions and charms to conjure good luck. Then California ofrenda maker Ofelia Esparza reveals the meanings behind her altar work for remembering loved ones on the Day of the Dead. Plus holiday and holy day sounds from Cassandra Wilson, Muddy Waters, Ana Tijoux, Gene Vincent and Santana.
We get sonically aloft with musical memories of the Byrds and the Flying Burritos Brothers. The Byrds, the fabled folk-rock band known for their vocal harmonies and jangly guitar sound, gained huge fame between 1965-1968. We’ll hear music that influenced the Byrds from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Plus conversation with Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers co-founder Chris Hillman about his bluegrass roots, the Byrds’ shift toward country music on Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and forming country rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons. We’ll also find out about songs in the land of love lost and found from Dr. John, Sam Cooke, Patsy Cline and Irma Thomas.
Deep in the heart of Texas, we visit with western swing trio the Hot Club of Cowtown, who started out in the bright lights of New York City and made a way to becoming a local favorite in Austin, Texas. We talk about hot clubs, 78 record collectors and hear songs about milk cows from some of the band’s favorite musicians. Then the Bay Area’s Los Cenzontles celebrate their Mexican American roots through teaching and performance, and collaborate with artists like Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. It’s milk cows and mockingbirds on American Routes.
It’s an American Routes live session with the Piano Prince of New Orleans, Davell Crawford, a fine singer and wily raconteur who grew up in Lafayette and New Orleans. We’ll also hear some of his and our piano heroes from South Louisiana and beyond: James Booker, Professor Longhair, and Ray Charles, as well as Davell’s grandfather, Sugar Boy Crawford. Then, it’s our tribute to Indigenous Peoples Day, the second Monday of October, with an array of Native American voices and music from the Black Lodge Singers, Dennis Banks, Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Redbone. Plus archival and current conversations with Assiniboine Cree Singers from Montana, French-speaking Houmas from Louisiana and vocal harmonies from the women of Ulali.