The Show Must Go On
September 10, 2005 8:24 AM   Subscribe

After the Storm Sometime this weekend, you may be able to hear one of the best expressions of New Orleans’ role in music and culture available in any mass media. It's American Routes, a weekly show carried on many US public radio affiliates. Programmed and hosted by folklorist and UNO professor of folklore and culture Nick Spitzer, the show normally broadcasts from a studio in the heart of the French Quarter, but has found a temporary home on a Creole/Cajun French/English public radio station in Lafayette. Spitzer told the NYT that he began planning the music for this week’s show as he was fleeing the flooding city in his car, playing Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans." This week’s show highlights New Orleans’ recovery from disasters past, emphasizing the city’s role as the greatest single wellspring of American music. The Crescent City, after all, has either birthed or nurtured everything from jazz, R & B, cajun and the related black-influenced zydeco, soul, blues, gospel, and rock and roll.) With an encyclopedic knowledge of American vernacular music, an utterly democratic spirit, and an unmistakeable respect and love for American musical forms and the people who create them, Spitzer has stepped forward several times this week to serve as a compassionate and optimistic spokesman for the irrepressible creative spirit of a suffering city and a culture in diaspora.
posted by Miko (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This has been previously posted here, in 2003, but I hope the timeliness and aspect of cultural recovery from disaster will warrant this new collection of links. Also, if I weren't already listening to this show weekly, I'd really want to know about it.
posted by Miko at 8:25 AM on September 10, 2005


I was pleased to hear Nick Spitzer on NPR yesterday; I was not aware of his show. I thought his comments were most apt and I can hardly imagine the turmoil he must be going through.

In all of the commentary about NOLA in the last days too little has been said about the threat the disaster poses to the survival of the cradle of jazz music, arguably America's only indigenous art form.
posted by rdone at 8:49 AM on September 10, 2005

Miko, I've sent this post to the Katrina Aftermath blog. Thanks so much for pointing this out. I wouldn't have heard about it otherwise.
posted by gleenyc at 9:34 AM on September 10, 2005

l love American Routes, thanks for the heads up on this one.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:42 AM on September 10, 2005

Having only heard it, I always thought it was "American Roots."
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:03 AM on September 10, 2005

This week's This American Life, featuring the stories of three New Orleans survivors, was also musically programmed by the apparently inexhaustible Mr. Spitzer.

Say, that reminds me - anyone heard from Andrei Codrescu?
posted by mwhybark at 11:20 AM on September 10, 2005

You might also want to hear WFMU's Music To Spazz By shows of May 5, 2005 and September 1, 2005 (there's still an mp3 stream available for the latter). Maximum N'awlins, and featuring Dave The Spazz's personally-taped recordings from this year's Ponderosa Stomp. Read the line-up and weap -- I doubt it'll be repeated.
posted by sighmoan at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2005

Anyone planning on capturing the show to an MP3? Please? I'm on the road this weekend, in a state that doesn't have an American Routes broadcast, and don't have any way to capture it anyway...
posted by delfuego at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2005

It’s heart-breaking watching my beautiful city sink, but I’m at a safe distance 90 miles away and my heartbreak is nothing compared to the suffering of people still in the city. New Orleans will be rebuilt, but it will never again be the city I knew and loved. -- Andrei Codrescu
posted by dhartung at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2005

I would also join the MP3 plea. I'm worried I may miss most of the show 'cause I have to run in a race tonight when my local station plays it.
posted by Miko at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2005

I would also join the MP3 plea. I'm worried I may miss most of the show 'cause I have to run in a race tonight when my local station plays it.
posted by Miko at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2005

Nick Spitzer is a national treasure. More now than ever.
posted by realcountrymusic at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2005

Last week's leShow also covered similar ground (by Harry Shearer, who owns a place in the French Quarter apparently).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2005

I have posted on my blog the first half of a long out-of-print essay called Hear That Long Snake Moan by Michael Ventura.

It's the best cultural history I have ever read, and explains the cultural dominance or New Orleans by way of the mix of cultures and religions the area has seen.

A great read!
posted by INFOHAZARD at 1:58 PM on September 10, 2005

wow, I've been casting about for that terrific Michael Ventura article for years now! (i read it in a mid-eighties 'whole earth review' but lost track of my copy..)

Thanks for posting it INFOHAZARD.
posted by The_Auditor at 3:12 PM on September 10, 2005

INFOHAZARD: Thanks, that was awesome. How long 'till we get part two?
posted by arto at 5:06 PM on September 10, 2005

WWOZ in Exile
Tipitina's Foundation
ReBirth Brass Band
Preservation Hall
NYT: Jazz Musicians Ask if Their Scene Will Survive
A Night for New Orleans

posted by muckster

Thanks for the links muckster. WWOZ is for my money the best radio station in america. I'll be contributing.
posted by justgary at 6:08 PM on September 10, 2005

Infohazard: That was fucking brilliant. I had an eerie feeling reading it: that very essay was mentioned to me in a hazy old-time session sometime in the last couple of years. Whiskey and music had my head spinning, but I remember hearing about it, the loa, the crossroads, the temporary possession of a spirit by musicians. It's right on. Thanks. And yes: post Part II, please.
posted by Miko at 9:08 PM on September 10, 2005

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