Public radio sending Cajun Country Revival to China

New Orleans-based public radio program “American Routes” has organized the first tour by a Louisiana French band to mainland China. Jesse Lége, Joel Savoy & Cajun Country Revival will perform April 1-12 at American cultural centers, U.S. consulates and clubs in Guangzhou, Harbin, Nanjing and Shanghai.

Nick Spitzer, host and producer of “American Routes” and professor of American studies and anthropology at Tulane University, is the tour’s artistic director.

In addition to musical performances, Spitzer will conduct oral history workshops and lecture about French Louisiana culture. Cajun filmmaker Conni Castille will screen her documentaries “I Always Do My Collars First” and “T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story.”

Singer-accordionist Lége grew up in a rural Gueydan. Cajun-French is his first language. He learned to perform music from relatives, neighbors and the radio.

Savoy, a fiddler from Eunice, is one of Cajun musicians Marc and Ann Savoy’s musical children. He co-founded Valcour Records in 2006.

The roots music-centered, eclectic “American Routes” radio show is heard through the U.S. Produced at Tulane, the program previously organized US-China exchange programs. In May, the Campbell Brothers, a New York-based sacred steel guitar group, will also tour China also under the auspices of “American Routes.”

“Our ‘American Routes Abroad’ series is ‘vernacular cultural diplomacy,’ ” Spitzer said in a statement. “It brings great traditional artists from diverse American communities to China and elsewhere. It’s gratifying to see Chinese audiences react to American traditional cultures.”

Radio audiences in the U.S., Spitzer added, will hear the Louisiana musicians’ performances in China during a future “American Routes” broadcast.

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