'American Routes' turns 15 with dance party

July 8, 2013 2:00 PM

Kathryn Hobgood Ray

The "American Routes" radio show celebrated its 15th anniversary on the air this past weekend with a special live show prerecorded at Rock 'n' Bowl in New Orleans.

Fans turned out for the 15th anniversary celebration of "American Routes." This slide show features photos and live musical performances from the event, by the Tremé Brass Band, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, pianist Jon Cleary and saxophonist James Rivers. Photos by Ryan Rivet.

Host Nick Spitzer, professor of anthropology and American studies at Tulane University, said the idea behind the episode was to celebrate with a big dance party: "Let's take care of celebrating New Orleans and South Louisiana — the homeland of the program — and Tulane, and the love the students and faculty have for the music, and let's entertain ourselves and the rest of the country."

The show was a mash-up of blues, funk, Cajun and jazz, featuring Irma Thomas, Ivan Neville, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Jon Cleary, the Lost Bayou Ramblers and the Tremé Brass Band.

"'American Routes' is important, because it strings together different kinds of music in a way you don't always hear on the radio," said David Kunian, a graduate student in the Newcomb Department of Music. "Also, Nick is a great interviewer. He gets stuff out of his interviewees that no one else has gotten."

"The 'American Routes' episode I will always remember is the one Nick Spitzer did post-Katrina," said Valerie McGinley Marshall, a director in the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. "Every New Orleanian, wherever scattered, listened to that show and heard their music."

"Having 'American Routes' here does a lot for the visibility of Tulane," said Provost Michael Bernstein. "Even more exciting, having the show on campus gives Nick and his team an opportunity to involve students in the show — students who are interested in radio production, folklore, ethnography, music and performing arts."

Spitzer says he sees no stop signs or yield signs for the show.

"Americans need constant reminding of where we came from, where we are today, all the good things we have created that the world loves us for," said Spitzer. "The radio show is a way to entertain and also to edify people. I've been at it for 15 years … let's keep going."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu