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
, 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.
Grace E. Lee