While they don’t all have blue-eyes, the white soul and swamp pop guys and gals from Philadelphia and South Louisiana have created distinctive regional sounds of national significance. In Philadelphia, we sample soul roots of the famed band Hall & Oates; and learn from John Oates that — despite years of pop music, big hair and synthesizers — at heart he is also a folkie into to country blues and flat-picked guitar a la Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt… which he plays live for us! The angelic-voiced Daryl Hall, on the other hand is more disciple of the Temptations who we’ll hear along with the Orlons, The O’Jays and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. In South Louisiana the simmering pot of music that draws on Cajun, R&B, soul and country ends up as a tasty dish called Swamp Pop. Johnnie Allan (Guillot) is a Cajun Swamp Pop chef extraordinaire with hits like “South to Louisiana” and a version of the “Promised Land” played on the French accordion. He’s surrounded by music from Earl King, Cookie & the Cupcakes, and Slim Harpo. Tasty indeed!
We’ll talk with a pair of musical couples, to learn the secrets of sharing the spotlight and making beautiful music together. Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion are folk musicians who met in the alt-country scene in LA. Today, with two daughters and a successful career sharing the stage, they sing for families and clubs around the country. Leroy Jones is a trumpet player from New Orleans and his wife, Katja Toivola is a trombone player from Finland. We’ll visit their home in the Treme to find out more about their love of bringing New Orleans jazz to world.
We’ll spend time with two eclectic NYC-based musicians who mix up country with jazz and other traditions. Multi-instrumentalist Andy Statman comes from a family steeped in Jewish musical traditions, but got the bluegrass bug playing with David Grisman and Tony Trischka. We’ll talk about his explorations of bluegrass, klezmer, free jazz and now duets with tea kettles. Then singer and pianist Norah Jones, known for her own personal stamp on jazz, shares the country side of life in her recent work with The Little Willies. Plus lots of “citified” country songs and downhome urban tunes.
The Houston-born singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell talks about growing up on the rough side of town with the ghost of Hank Williams as a “family member,” as well writing songs for his recent duet partner Emmylou Harris. He also wrote for many of the country heavy weights from Jerry Reed to Guy Clark and Bob Seeger, and was also the antagonist in Rosanne Cash’s signature tune “Seven Year Ache.” Then we’ll sit down live in a rare visit to Nashville (!) with the Crescent City’s Nite Tripper himself Dr. John, who reminisces about and demonstrates his early days at the piano, and on a music industry, “spying mission” that could only happen in New Orleans.