If you like your Americana rough around the edges you’ll love Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson‘s new roots album “River Of Sand”. River Of Sand, produced by fellow singer-songwriter Lynn Miles, was four years in the making, and contains some very personal songs, that speak to the challenges we all face on this road called life. As a live artist, Lynne Hanson has been gaining rave reviews for her polished performances whether playing solo or with her band The Good Intentions. We caught up with Lynne at home in Ottawa. Music: Lynne Hanson, “River of Sand”, “Heaven and Hell” and “Trading in my Lonesome” from “River of Sand” (Continental Sound City, 2014)
“If the Carter Family, Robbie Robertson and Alfred Hitchcock had written songs together, they might sound like this.” That’s how L.A. based Ernest Troost introduces himself in concert. What makes him so remarkable is that he’s a late arrival on the folk scene. After studying jazz guitar and classical music at Berklee College of Music, Ernest built a career as an award-winning TV and Film composer in Hollywood, working on the cult classic Tremors, HBO’s A Lesson Before Dying, many Hallmark Hall of Fame specials and, more recently, the Campbell Scott indie film Crashing, which features the title track from Troost’s album “All the Boats Are Gonna Rise”. Along the way he composed, arranged and produced two albums of lullabies for Judy Collins. Ernest started making a name for himself as a singer-songwriter when he picked up the guitar in 2004; and in 2009 he was named a New Folk Winner at the famed Kerrville Folk Festival. His latest album, “O Love”, is already creating quite a buzz within the folk community. An album of real Americana, it features widescreen story songs alongside beautiful and heartfelt love songs. Showcasing a variety of styles from Piedmont blues through waltzes and the odd bit of rock n’roll, O Love is an album that will surely feature in many people’s best of the year. We tracked him down for an interview, at home in California. Music: Ernest Troost, “Old Screen Door”, “Harlan County Boys” and “The Last Lullaby” from “O Love”. (Travelling Shoes Records, 2014)
Fearing & White are back on tour in Ontario and Alberta. The collaboration between Stephen Fearing & Andy White released their second album, “Tea & Confidences” earlier this year. We caught up with Andy White prior to their barnstorming appearance at this year’s Hillside Festival. As it seemed only fair that we check in with the other half of this pair of wandering minstrels, we reached Stephen Fearing at home in Halifax. During our fun and wide-ranging conversation we tackled such topics as balancing solo and band commitments, recording and touring “Tea & Confidences”, why Gary Craig is such a great drummer, music as a business for independent artists 101 and the ‘Manzer guitar / Air Canada incident’. It’s well worth a listen. Music: Fearing & White, “Emigrant Song”, “Tomorrow Takes A Long Time”, “We Came Together” and “To The Great Unknown” from “Tea & Confidences” (2014, Lowdenproud).
Guelph-based singer songwriter Jane Lewis releases her first solo album, “Stay With Me” on September 26, 2014 at Dublin St United Church in Guelph. The show starts at 8 p.m. Stay With Me is a piano-based folk-pop-roots album that blends engaging melodies and well-crafted lyrics, with gorgeous production that allows the vocals to stand up against the beautifully well-balanced musical accompaniment. The album features Jane Lewis on piano joined by a stellar core band of Sam Turton (guitar), Jesse Turton (bass) and Adam Bowman (drums & percussion). Special guests on the album include Jason Fowler, Eve Goldberg, Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon and Doug Wilde among others. The album was produced by Sam Turton and engineered by Nik Tjelios. The release show promises to be a very special night. You can buy tickets online here. Jane Lewis joined us in the studio to chat and play tracks from the album. For more information, visit janelewis.ca.
Pharis & Jason Romero bring their beautiful harmonies and old-time banjo and guitar tunes to Kitchener on Friday September 12 for a show hosted by Folkway Music at the Registry Theatre, Kitchener. They released their recent album, “Long Gone Out West Blues”, in early 2013 to critical acclaim, the album garnering several awards while making it into the top 10 of many end of year ‘Best of’ lists. Long Gone Out West Blues features an array of songs that blend old and new, while telling stories about ageless characters, hard lives, love and loss. Tickets for the Registry show are $22.60 (includes HST) and available through Eventbrite, or in person at Folkway Music, 22 Dupont Street East, Waterloo ON N2J 2G9, 519-772-0424 (1-855-772-0424). Tickets will also be available at the Door $25 (cash only). The shows starts at 8:00 p.m. (Doors 7:30 p.m.). For more information: pharisandjason.com. Music: “Long Gone Out West Blues” and ‘I Want To Get Lucky” from “Long Gone Out West Blues” (2013, Lula Records).
Hannah Shira Naiman will be at the Magnolia Café in Guelph on Thursday September 11 as part of a tour supporting her 2013 album release “Tether My Heart”. Tether My Heart is a gorgeous album of banjo-driven songs, inspired by Ola Belle Reid and Hazel Dickens, with an Appalachian Old-time feel and English / Irish folk ballad stylings thrown into the mix. Hannah’s music has already been critically acclaimed, drawing favourable comparisons with the work of both Gillian Welch and The Be Good Tanyas. At Magnolia, Hannah will be performing with fiddle player Rosalyn Dennett (formerly of Oh My Darling). The show starts at 8:00 p.m. and the cover is just $10. Due to the intimate size of the venue, reservations are recommended. Call 519-766-4663 to reserve. For more information visit hannahshiranaiman.com. Music: Hannah Shira Naiman “Looking For My True Love” and “Little Fox” from “Tether My Heart” (2013, Merriweather Records)
Kitchener-based singer-songwriter Lynn Jackson releases her new album (with Chris Boyne), “The Acoustic Sessions” at The Jane Bond in Waterloo on September 7 2014. The show starts at 9:00 p.m. (doors at 8:00 p.m.) and admission is just $10 which also gets you copy of the CD – which is an amazing deal! Lynn will also be in Brantford at the Train Station Coffee House on September 6 and at Borealis in Guelph on September 18. After that she is off on a western tour. We caught up with Lynn at home in Kitchener. Music: “Wintersong” and “Mark The Spot” from “The Acoustic Sessions” (2014, Busted Flat Records)
For more details on the tour dates, check out lynnjackson.net.
Plumhall are Michelle Plum and Nick Hall. They come from West Yorkshire in England and they’ve just released a great debut album of moody British Americana entitled “Thundercloud”.
Michelle is a former member of Chumbawamba, Waking the Witch and The Accidental Tourists. Nick has been a member of the Hall Brothers band nearly all his life. Together as Plumhall they have supported Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls of The Wonderstuff, as well as State Of The Union, Andy White and Henry Priestman. They also recently performed with multi-instrumentalist, and former member of Bob Dylan’s tour band, Larry Campbell at the BBC Radio 2 award-winning folk club The Black Swan in York England. We caught up with them at home in Bradford. For more information visit: plumhall.co.uk. Music: Plumhall, “Let Me Sleep” and “Exit Into The Light” from Thundercloud (2014, Proper Distribution).
Bulgarian-born, classically-trained guitarist Anton Apostolov will be bringing his Green Sky Project to the first Kingsville Folk Festival taking place in in Lakeside Park, Kingsville from August 8-10 2014. Featuring Apostolov alongside Naghmeh Farahmand on percussion, Jacek Karlowski on tamboura, Hasheel Lodhia on bansuri and Sunjun Park on piano, the Green Sky Project fuse together folk, classical and jazz themes using Balkan, Iranian and Indian traditional music as their primary source of inspiration. The sound they produce together is beautiful, especially on the fabulous Star In A Jar. We caught up with Anton Apostolov at home in Toronto. For more information, visit greenskyproject.com. Music: Green Sky Project “Connection” and “Star In A Jar” from “Star In A Jar” (2013, Self).
Southern Ontario based folk group Same Latitude As Rome released “1812”, their most ambitious project to date, a suite of original songs to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, in 2012. They are now getting set to release its follow-up “Early Days” – which is expected this Fall. And, they will also be performing at the inaugural Kingsville Folk Festival, August 8-10 2014. The current line-up features Peter Boyer on acoustic guitar and vocals, Anneke McCabe on percussion and vocals) with JK Gulley (guitar/mandolin) and Besnik Yzeiri (violin). For more information, visit samelatitudeasrome.com. We caught up with Peter Boyer at home in Fergus. Music: Same Latitude As Rome, “Better Days Will Come” and “Song For Louis Riel” from forthcoming album “Early Days”.
Lauren Mann has been delighting audiences with her folk-pop since 2008. After making the decision that gigging as much as possible was the thing to do, she formed a band with some fellow travellers and hit the open road. Lauren Mann And The Fairly Odd Folk released their second album “Over Land and Sea” in 2013. They gained national attention this year as winners of the very popular CBC Searchlight competition. They will be in the Guelph area on August 2 2014 for a show at the Eden Mills Community Hall. Tickets are $30 for adults, and $10 for students and available at the Bookshelf in Guelph or by contacting Kathie Lamie at 519-501-3550. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. (doors at 7:30 p.m.). We caught up with Lauren Mann on the road between Thunder Bay and Sault Set Marie. For more information visit laurenmannmusic.com. Music: Lauren Mann And The Fairly Odd Folk, “I Lost Myself” and “Over Land And Sea” from “Over Land and Sea” (2012, Wanderer)
Slide guitarist Dennis Johnson is creating quite the stir with his second album “Slide Avenue”, the follow up to “Slide Show”. Slide Avenue moves effortlessly between genres, from Blues to New Orleans Jazz to Rock to Swing, as it takes you on a ride that stays with you long after the album has finished. Featuring three Robert Johnson reinterpretations alongside a slew of Dennis Johnson originals it’s an album with so many standout tracks its hard to pick one though “She Looks Good”, featuring some outstanding fiddle from Joe Craven, deserves special mention. California based Johnson has a mission to take the slide guitar to points unknown; we’ve no doubt he’ll get there – Slide Avenue definitely delivers. We reached Dennis Johnson at home in California. Music: Dennis Johnson, “She’s So Good” and “Phonograph Blues” from “Slide Avenue” (2014, Self).
Singer-songwriters Stephen Fearing and Andy White will both be playing the Hillside Festival this year. This year’s visit will be a bit different from previous appearances because they will be playing together as Fearing & White, the project they started with a self-titled album in 2011. They’ve just released its follow-up, “Tea & Confidences” and we talked with Andy White from Edmonton. For more information on Fearing & White visit fearingandwhite.com. Music: Fearing & White, “We Came Together” and “Think Of Me Like Summer” from “Tea & Confidences” (2014, Lowdenproud Records)
Canadian powerhouse blues performer Matt Andersen returns to the Hillside Festival this year. Matt released his latest album “Weightless” this past February. Matt is currently on the summer festival circuit in North America, and before heading to Europe for a tour of the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands this fall, we caught up with him at his home in New Brunswick. For more information, visit www.stubbyfingers.ca. Music: Matt Andersen, “Weightless” and “Let You Down” from “Weightless” (2014, True North Records).
Rowdy folksters Union Duke made a big splash at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 2013, this despite having to go through the audition showcase process. That they were invited back in 2014 speaks volumes to the quality of the music and their outstanding live performances. Anyone who saw them lift the roof off the Mariposa Pub Tent in 2014 would know that this band is heading for bigger things – Catch them while you can. Thoughtful lyrics, soaring harmonies, and a foot stomping beat; you might just be checking out Canada’s version of Mumford and Sons! They’ve just released their second album, “Cash and Carry”, the follow-up to 2013’s “Bandits and Bridges”. We caught up with Ethan Smith and Matt Warry-Smith after the pub tent performance. For more information, visit unionduke.com. Music: Union Duke, “That Old Feeling” and “A Little More” from Cash & Carry (2014, Self)
Colorado’s Elephant Revival were one of the highlights of this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival. Their music has been described as transcendental folk because of the way they take elements of celtic folk, traditional folk, bluegrass / country, and occasionally reggae, hip-hop and jazz to create something entirely unique. Good words to describe their performances would be hypnotic and mesmerizing. Accomplished performers all, they should be a must see at the upcoming Hillside Festival. You do not want to miss this band! Their latest album is “These Changing Skies”. We caught up with Daniel Rodriguez and Bridget Law after a workshop at Mariposa. For more information, visit elephantrevival.com. Music: Elephant Revival, “Remembering A Beginning” and “Birds And Stars” from “These Changing Skies” (2013, Itz Evolving Records)
Toronto based band Graydon James and the Young Novelists will be bringing their folk-rock stylings to Guelph on July 18 2014 for a noon hour concert in St George’s Square. Formed in 2011 their first E.P., “A Small Town Eulogy” was released to critical acclaim. They followed that with a live album recorded at Dublin St United Church in Guelph and their first full length long player “In The Year You Were Born”. They are about to head into the studio to start work on their latest release. We caught up with Graydon James in Toronto. For more information, visit www.theyoungnovelists.com. Music: Graydon James and the Young Novelists, “Small Town Hymns” from “In The Year You Were Born” (2012, Self); Graydon James and the Young Novelists, “Hear Your Voice” (Single) (2013, Self)
Jane Carmichael and Kevin Kennedy are The Marrieds. They’ll be bringing their beautiful melodies and sweet harmonies to Guelph in July for a Thursday night residency at Magnolia Café. Sharing the stage with them will be Shannon Kingsbury (July 10), Vanessa Tignanelli (July 17), Ian Reid (July 24) and Peter Light (July 31). All the shows are Pay What You Can events and they start at 8:00 p.m. We caught up with Jane Carmichael and Kevin Kennedy at home in London ON. For more information visit www.themarrieds.ca. Music: “Come To Bed” and “The Rest Of My Days” from The Marrieds’ 2013 album “Saving Hope”.
Philadelphia based acoustic instrumentalist Trevor Gordon Hall is heading to this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival. With two successful acoustic albums under his belt, Trevor’s musical creative aspirations were upsized by the birth of the Kalimbatar, an innovative acoustic guitar that features the Kalimba, a sub-Saharan thumb piano. Trevor’s most recent album is Entelechy (2011). We caught up with him this week at home. For more information on Trevor Gordon Hall, visit trevorgordonhall.com. Music: Trevor Gordon Hall, Missing You and Kalimbatar from Entelechy (2011, Candy Rat Records).
Durham County Poets are five guys from the Chateauguay Valley in Quebec who have played in blues bands, gospel groups, Cajun, vaudeville, folk, rock and country bands. Since coming together as the Durham County Poets they have developed a sound that is uniquely their own. A collective blend of styles from Dan Hicks to James Taylor, the Band to Leon Redbone, they are a melting pot of inspired tunes to enjoy. They released their first album “When The River Flows” in 2012, and have just released their follow-up, the intriguingly titled “Chikkaboodah Stew”. We caught up with lead singer Kevin Harvey this past week to talk about the new album. For more information visit durhamcountypoets.com. Music: Intro: Chikkaboodah Stew, Outro: Lipstick Sky from Chikkaboodah Stew (2014, Self).