It’s the New Orleans’ celebration rivaled only by Mardi Gras: a magnet of music, food, and folk art embracing Louisiana and beyond. From Louis Armstrong to zydeco, we’ll sample the soundscape and the cuisine. Conversations with visiting jazz greats and festival memories from illustrious locals like Aaron Neville and soul diva Irma Thomas, as well as some picking from the black and white blues duo of Tookie and Henry.
Over the years John Hiatt has played many roles: successful songwriter, soulful rocker, blues boogie man with a message, and recently an acoustic country balladeer. Also, a mini-concert from America’s greatest thumbpicker, Eddie Pennington, who spins remarkable tales and tunes. In his day job as an undertaker, Pennington buried his hero: the late guitarist Merle Travis.
Our Easter/Passover show, as Nick Spitzer talks to the one and only Rev. Al Green about growing up in rural Arkansas and how soul music leads to saving souls—including his own. Plus nouveau klezmer musician Steven Bernstein on jazz and Jewish tradition swinging together. Also we explore Pagan, Deep South, cowboy and cartoon versions of the Easter bunny and kin. Seasonal music from Irving Berlin, Fats Domino, Gene Autry, and Cassandra Wilson.
True Believers in Country Music and the Blues: Grammy-winning, God-fearing man of song Ricky Skaggs talks about his music, specifically his devotion to bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe. Plus, who is Louisiana Red? Iverson Minter is the name on his Mississippi birth certificate; “Red” came with a notorious love of New Orleans hot sauce; and his sound was formed while working in the Pittsburgh steel mills. Just as Ricky Skaggs sees his music as an expression of spirituality, Louisiana Red infuses his blues with messages of labor protest and Civil Rights.