Public Radio’s American Routes brings American roots music to China

April 24, 2015

Mike Strecker
Phone: 504-865-5210

American Routes, the public radio program produced at Tulane University, is leading a tour of American “roots” music to China, April 30 to May 3. With collaboration from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the China Arts & Entertainment Group (CAEG), the tour will include: Wylie & the Wild West, a cowboy band from Montana; Max Baca y Los Texmaniacs from San Antonio Texas; and the Tremé Brass Band of New Orleans. The groups will perform daily at the “Meet-in-Beijing Festival” at the Rose Bud Arts Center in 798 Art Zone.

The Tremé Brass Band plays marches, hymns, dirges, blues and popular songs for second-line street parades, at Mardi Gras, in clubs and for jazz funerals. “We are excited to spread joy with New Orleans traditional jazz and parade music,” said drummer Benny Jones Sr.

Wylie Gustafson led his band, the Wild West, which plays old cowboy songs as well as Western swing and honky-tonk dance music, to China in 2013. “I am excited about cultural diplomacy through American music,” Gustafson said. “I have seen it work firsthand.”

Max Baca y Los Texmaniacs play the conjunto music heard in southwest U.S. border states, traditional harmony duets and new approaches to ranchera, polka and other genres. “It’s hip music that everybody in the world can relate to, with the traditional conjunto elements,” Baca said.

“This concert series builds on our prior China tours with Cajun music, gospel, cowboys and jazz. This kind of vernacular cultural diplomacy is both entertaining and edifying. The virtuosity and diversity we bring to ‘Meet-in-Beijing’ is a great statement between nations at an intimate level,” said American Routes radio host Nick Spitzer, the tour’s artistic director and an anthropology professor at Tulane.

The tour is supported by China Arts & Entertainment Group, U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Airlines, the Louisiana Dept. of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Louisiana Entertainment, and Tulane University.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000