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From Absinthe to Zoloft, American Routes brews a stimulating show about elixirs, enhancers and downright downers. Guests include country star Hank Thompson on performing — and drinking — in the honky-tonks, and British historian James Hughes on altered states and creativity across time and cultures. Partake in music selections from Charlie Parker, Paul Bowles, Ella Fitzgerald and the Grateful Dead.


We got the beat. From second line rhythms and tap dance in the street, to funk in the studio and the cowbell on concert stage, rhythm’s something we all have. This week, check out the beats of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Cuban bandleader Cachao and tap-dancer Savoin Glover. Plus drummer Earl Palmer tells us about playing with Little Richard and Fats Domino. We’ll dig into the clave rhythm with Tom McDermott, and Elvis’ man in the pocket DJ Fontana keeps the beat with American Routes.


We celebrate the work and life of Dr. King through the sounds of freedom, including two guests who have added their own voices to that choir. Sixties soul queen Fontella Bass used her gospel background and voice to make freedom statements of her own, such as her biggest hit “Rescue Me.” Scholar, critic and hepcat Albert Murray tells us how African-Americans have used blues and jazz as a springboard to a better place—and why Duke Ellington called him the “unsquarest person I know.” Plus music from John Coltrane, Johnny Cash, the Staples Singers and more.


New Orleans pianist, composer, raconteur and the self-proclaimed “inventor of jazz” is featured through original Library of Congress music and oral history sessions, and interviews with jazz scholar Dan Morgenstern. The pervasive influence of Morton’s music includes the swing-era sounds of Benny Goodman to recent revivals by Dr. Michel White and Wynton Marsalis.