Garrett McCutchan is a multi-instrumentalist and world traveler. His material is contained in a binder of yellowed, coffee-stained pages. And it's the music in the background at one of Baton Rouge's hidden lunch spots.
LL Cool J has been making music for more than 25 years. Through it all, he says, he's tried his best to remain authentic.
"The last thing that I want to do is be a hack," says the rapper and actor, born James Todd Smith. "Someone who is adapting to whatever the current trend is, and manipulating the public into being on board with me even though, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not doing anything."
And this final note on the blues. Two years ago on this show, we profiled Gip's Place, a real juke joint nestled in a residential neighborhood in Bessemer, Alabama.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: It's not like going to a bar. It's not like going to a club. It's like going to your best friend's house and putting on just the newest record and sitting there and enjoying it together. Literally, there is truly a mix between the musicians and the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Welcome again. Y'all ready to get started?
It's been more than eight decades since Show Boat -- the seminal masterpiece of the American musical theater — premiered on a stage in Washington, D.C. Now the sprawling classic is back, in a lush production put on by the Washington National Opera.
Natalie Maines is a small woman with a really big voice. Flanked by Emily Robison on banjo and Martie McGuire on fiddle, Maines powered the Dixie Chicks to some 30 million records sold. And then came the collapse — after what the band calls "the incident."
On cable TV, there's a whole truckload of reality shows that make fun of working-class, white Southern culture. They are some of the most popular and talked about new shows, too, such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty.
MTV tried cashing in on the redneck TV trend with its own hyped-up platform for young Southern kids behaving badly, Buckwild. It played like a Southern-fried version of Jersey Shore. Its stars were a dimwitted crew of young people in West Virginia drinking hard and riding pickup trucks through ditches filled with mud.
When he was a teenager, journalist Rod Dreher couldn't wait to escape Louisiana. Now he has found his way home again in grief — after his sister's death from lung cancer. It was "in light" of that tragedy, Dreher says, that he discovered the value of community. It's the subject of his new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.
Alex Rawls, a New Orleans-based writer and editor who runs the music and culture website MySpiltMilk.com, was the guest editor of The Oxford American magazine’s 2012 Southern Music Issue, which was entirely dedicated to all things Louisiana music. He also helped put together its accompanying album.
And Rawls tells WRKF’s Ashley Westerman that even though this new music comes from a younger generation and may sound a little different - it is still authentically Louisiana.