Gathering Sparks are the graceful collision of Jane Lewis and Eve Goldberg – musical friends who bonded over finely tuned harmonies and the craft of songwriting, their inclusive approach embracing folk, pop, blues and gospel influences tastefully played on acoustic guitar, piano, accordion, and ukulele. Gathering Sparks are currently working on the second album, the first as a duo – original member Sam Turton leaving the band after the release of their self-titled debut album. Jane Lewis and Eve Goldberg joined Jan Hall in the Folk Roots Radio studio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about their music, and sing three songs live. For more information, visit gatheringsparks.com. Music: Gathering Sparks “We Are Bringing In The Light” (Live), “You’re My Sister” (Live) and “Many Sparks Make A Fire” (Live).
Sara Gougeon is a twenty year old singer-songwriter from Sudbury, Ontario and a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Sara was part of the Developing Artist Program that took place at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference, where she was mentored by Kaia Kater. You can check out our audio documentary from the 2017 Developing Artist Program HERE. Sara released her first EP “Home Again” this past August. Her song ”Home Again” was a finalist in the folk music category of the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. We caught up with Sara in Boston to chat about the new E.P. For more information about the music of Sara Gougeon, visit saragougeon.com. Music: Sara Gougeon “Michigan & Friends” and “Home Again” from “Home Again E.P.” (2018, Self).
London based singer-songwriter John Muirhead first landed on our radar as a member of the Developing Artist Program (formerly the Youth Program) at the 2016 Folk Music Ontario conference. John released his second solo EP “Foundational” (the follow up to “Yesterday’s Smile”) earlier this year. John will be releasing a series of singles throughout the winter, with the first, “I Can Sleep Anywhere” due November 8. John Muirhead sat down with Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about his music. For more information, visit johnpmuirhead.com. Music: John Muirhead “Ambition”, “Foundational” and “Passenger’s Side” from “Foundational” (2018, Self).
Windsor ON based singer-songwriter Karen Morand has been pretty busy lately. After announcing the arrival of Even The Bird Was Free, her new rootsy, bluesy, gospel, Americana duo with Ukulele Bluesman Manitoba Hal (check out our great interview with Karen and Hal recorded at the Folk Music Ontario conference HERE), the Canada South Songwriting Competition winner is about to release her fourth album since 2012. The new recording, a solo E.P., “Every Flash Of Light” was recorded in St.Thomas, ON with Deni Gauthier and features five new Karen Morand songs (including co-writes with Linda McRae, Steve Hindalong, and others) and a cover of Corin Raymond‘s “That’s Life”. While retaining that warm gospel infused style we associate with Karen Morand’s music, the new songs come with powerhouse vocals, and a musical accompaniment from Deni Gauthier (acoustic/electric guitars, bass, keys, programming and percussion) and Broomsticks & Hammers‘ Paul Aitken on lead guitar and slide guitar that really makes you feel that this is Karen Morand unleashed. Karen Morand joined us in the Folk Roots Radio studio to chat about the new album. Visit Karen Morand online at karenmorand.com. Music: Karen Morand “When The Smoke Clears”, “That’s Life” and “Homeward Bound” from “Every Flash Of Light” (2018, Self).
Banjo toting roots singer-songwriter Carly Dow has just released her second album “Comet”. More celestial in tone than her earthy debut “Ingrained”, Carly is still deeply connected to nature and the wildness that lives amongst us – and within us, on ten new songs written at her, mostly off the grid, backwoods retreat in the wilds of Manitoba. The new album, co-produced with Matt Filopoulus, features Carly Dow on her signature clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar with support from some fine Winnipeg based musicians including Matt Filopoulus on electric guitar, pedal steel and dobro; Murray Jewett and Julian Bradford (strings) and Jeremy Rusu (accordion) with harmony vocals from Madeleine Roger and Logan McKillop. Carly Dow sat down with Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at Folk Music Ontario to chat about the new album. For more information about the music of Carly Dow, visit carlydowmusic.com. Music: Carly Dow “Sunlight Remembers”, “Tiger’s Eye” and “Cut & Run” from “Comet” (2018, Self)
Winnipeg singer-songwriter Madeleine Roger released a fabulous album “Fairweather” in 2015 with her twin brother Lucas as part of the contemporary folk duo Roger Roger. Since that time, Lucas has decided to take a break from writing and performing to focus on his work as a luthier with Beardsell Guitars, allowing Madeleine to develop her own career as a solo artist. Madeleine Roger’s debut solo album “Cottonwood” features songs, written at home in Winnipeg and while on retreat at the family backwoods cottage, that reflect a female perspective on life and music. The album was produced with Lloyd Peterson (The Wailin’ Jenny’s, The Weakerthans, James Keelaghan) at Paintbox Recording in Winnipeg with true gender parity and equality a focus of the recording process. Madeleine Roger sat down with Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about the new album. For more information about Madeleine Roger, visit madeleineroger.com. Music: Madeleine Roger “60 Years More”, “Cottonwood” and “Soldier Song” from “Cottonwood” (2018, Self).
Contra dance is a traditional social dance style with figures similar to square dancing but taking place in longways sets. Dancing occurs with live music from the Scots-Irish, French Canadian, and Appalachian folk traditions – though often given a modern twist. A caller leads the participants through the steps for each dance. It’s an inclusive, grassroots, and lively activity, open to all ages and a lot fun! Contra dance communities can be found in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, and in many other places across Canada and the US. Drumlin Contra Dances take place at St James Church Hall in Fergus every fourth Friday each month, from September thru May. They are looking to entice more people to join them, so that their group can become truly sustainable. Kris Rosar from Drumlin Contra Dances joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about contra dancing and their group. For more information visit drumlincontradances.ca. Check out other links for Contra Dancing at contradancelinks.com, the Country Dance and Song Society at cdss.org and The Dance Gypsy. Music: The Old Sod Band “Julia Delaney, Tam Lin and The Banshee” from “Grass Roots” (2001, Self) and Les Frères Brunet “Queue De Lapin” from “Magie” (1994, Self).
Bilingual Canadian singer-songwriter Francine Honey (formerly Francine Leclair) has just released her third album “To Be Continued”. The new album, featuring tales of heartache and hope delivered with a mix of Americana, country, rock, Canadiana and blues, was recorded in Nashville with producer Neilson Hubbard (John Prine, Jason Isbell) with some fine support from guitarists Will Kimbrough and Kris Donegan, pianist Danny Mitchell, bassist Dean Marold and fiddler Eamon McLoughlin with backing vocals on “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes” from Beth Nielsen Chapman. Francine Honey joined us in the Folk Roots Radio studio to chat about the new album. For more information about the music of Francine Honey, visit francinehoney.com. Music: Francine Honey “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes”, “To Be Continued” and “Can’t Break Through To You” from “To Be Continued” (2018, Self).
Award-winning singer-songwriter Karen Morand & Ukulele Bluesman Manitoba Hal are now making music together as rootsy, bluesy, gospel, Americana duo Even The Bird Was Free. Karen Morand and Manitoba Hall have toured together before, providing harmony vocals on each others songs. Their new acoustic live show features stripped down gospel rich roots songs written by both members individually and, now, together. On stage, with an assortment of instruments in hand, the long time friends have an easy rapport and a playful energy that’s hard to resist. They’ve just released their first self-titled EP. Karen and Hal sat down with Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about the new project and also played a couple of new songs live. For more information visit eventhebirdwasfree.com. Music: Even The Bird Was Free “Call Me Blue” (Live), “This Old World” (Live) and “Lucky Fighter” from “Even The Bird Was Free (2018, Self).
Born and raised in Leamington ON in the heart of Canada’s Sun Parlour, barefoot musician Justin Latam, has been making music for over thirteen years now. A hard-working singer-songwriter, Justin has made several trips to Nashville to further his craft and recently released “Six”, a stripped down six song solo acoustic E.P., the follow up to his poppy fifth album “Barefoot”. Justin is currently on his fall Home County Tour and joined us in the Folk Roots Radio studio for a chat about his music. Visit Justin Latam online at justinlatam.ca. Photo credit: Jake Klassen. Music: Justin Latam “Your Love”, “D.L. Filer (Down She Goes)” and “Call Home” from “Six” (2018, Self) CDN
“Fires, Floods & Things We Leave Behind”, the great new album from Melanie Brulée, is a fabulous slice of pedal steel driven country music that comes equipped with its own widescreen spaghetti western like vibe to kick things off. Melanie Brulée is in fine voice on twelve tracks that reflect on relationships, loss and addiction while taking us back to the golden age of country music, and joined by some great players including pedal steel player Kevin “The General” Neal who brings much of the sound to the recording, with guitars from Champagne James Robertson (Lindi Ortega, New Country Rehab), Kyle Teixeira on bass and Adam Warner on drums. This is definitely not your average country album – and a recording you must check out. We caught up with Melanie Brulée in Toronto to chat about the new project. For more information about Melanie Brulée and upcoming tour dates, visit melaniebrulee.com. Photo credit: Emma-Lee Photography. Music: Melanie Brulée “I Will”, “Pretty Wasteland” and “Whiskey & Whine” from “Fires Floods & Things We Leave Behind” (2018, Lapin Blanc).
Canadian singer-songwriter David Graff has just returned to writing and recording music with his wonderful new release ”Supposed To Fly”. Despite some early success, with songs placed in movies and television, and an EP called “Some Of What I Know”, David dropped out of the music business in the late nineties to pursue a career as a visual artist. However, his love of music as a creative outlet has brought him back with a strong collection of songs co-produced with his daughter Julia Graff and James Perrella that really deserve loads of airplay. With a voice that feels like a blend of Tom Petty, Don Henley and Joe Walsh, and some fabulous musicianship from a strong group of side players including Steve Dawson, Kirby Barber, David Barber and John Ellis, this radio friendly release has some finely crafted songs that run the gamut from reflections on life, to cautionary tales about relationships, and favourite trucks. We caught up with David at home on Bowen Island to chat about the new album. For more information, visit davidgraffmusic.com. Music: David Graff “The Only One I’ve Got”, “Supposed To Fly” and “Tough City” from “Supposed To Fly” (2018, Self).
Erin Costelo, the Halifax NS based keyboard playing singer-songwriter, composer and producer, is about to release another soulful R&B masterpiece, “Sweet Marie”, the follow up to 2016’s critically acclaimed “Down Below The Status Quo” — one of our favourite albums of that year. The new album (album number 5), featuring 10 songs recorded in 10 days last winter in a house by the sea in Little Harbour NS, was produced by Erin Costelo and also features Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo) on Drums, Anna Ruddick on bass (Randy Bachman, Ben Caplan), Leith Fleming-Smith (Matt Mays, Hawksley Workman) on organ and Erin’s long-time partner, Clive MacNutt on guitars. Leanne Hoffman and Kwento supply backing vocals, and there are also guest appearances by the Blue Engine String Quartet, Andrew MacKelvie on saxophone and flute, and Andrew Jackson on trombone. A ‘making of the album’ documentary directed by Juno-winning songwriter Amelia Curran is due to air on CBC TV this fall. We caught up with Erin Costelo on the road to chat about the new project. For more information and upcoming tour dates across Canada and the US and into Europe, visit erincostelo.com. Photo: Mat Dunlap. Music: Erin Costelo “Lights Down Low”, “All In Your Head” and “My Love” from “Sweet Marie” (2018, Venue Records).
Toronto-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Noah Zacharin released one of our favourite albums of 2016, the genre defying electric album “Strange Rider”, a widescreen production that moved effortlessly between blues, jazz, folk, pop and r n’ b, and even threw some doo-wop into the mix. Noah’s just released the follow-up, “A Startle Of Wings”, which sees Noah playing almost strictly solo acoustic guitar on 14 songs that show the depth and quality of his songwriting – a stripped down recording he describes as best enjoyed in a quiet space with headphones. This is an album that deserves to be explored and savoured. We caught up with Noah Zacharin at home in Toronto to learn more about the new album. For more information about the music of Noah Zacharin, visit noahsong.com. Music: Noah Zacharin “Morning Comes On”, “Starlings” and “Wood And Wire” from “A Startle Of Wings” (2018, Self).
The Big Branch Festival is a three day “Balfolk” festival/camp hosted by Balfolk Toronto taking place September 7-9, at Unicamp Ontario, in Honeywood near Shelburne ON (along the Bruce Trail). “Balfolk” is a modern revival of traditional, predominately Western European, social folk dances. Dances range from simple partner dances like the waltz, mazurka and schottische, to hypnotic chain dances like the andro, gavotte, and ride from Bretagne as well as energetic mixer dances. Balfolk dances are simple and easy to learn, and leave lots of room for improvisation. The intent of a Balfolk session is simple – relax and lean into the music and see where it takes you! The Big Branch Festival will feature dance and music workshops, with performers from France (Laüsa, Duo Rivaud Lacouchie, Duo Le Bour Bodros), Italy/Canada (Filippo Gambetta & Emilyn Stam) and dance instructor Louise Marius from the Netherlands. We caught up with one of the organizers, fiddler Emilyn Stam, to learn more about Balfolk Toronto and The Big Branch Festival. For more information, visit thebigbranchfestival.com. Music: Laüsa “Nau Gojatas” from Laüsa (2018, Tradethik) and Duo Rivaud Lacouchie “Ordich Janeta / Scottish d’Eugene Tarrade” from “Ordich!” (2016, AEPEM).
Hard to categorize British roots duo Red Dirt Skinners will be releasing their new album “Under Utopian Skies” this September. Featuring multi-instrumentalists Sarah Skinner and Rob Skinner, the band have become big favourites on both the British blues and country scene, but with influences that range from Pink Floyd and Supertramp to Crosby Stills & Nash and John Prine, they really do have an across the board appeal. Renowned for their soaring choruses, fabulous soprano sax solos and clever thought provoking lyrics, the title of the new project reflects on their love for their new home in Canada, after emigration in 2017. We caught up with Sarah and Rob Skinner at home in Ontario to chat about the new album. For more information about the music of the Red Dirt Skinners and upcoming tour dates, visit reddirtskinners.com. Photo: John Milford. Music: Red Dirt Skinners “Hey Crawford”, “Blossom & Rain”, “Lay Me Down” and “This House” from “Under Utopian Skies” (2018, Self).
There’s nothing better than having a new album come in, you play it once, and then want to play it again… and again… and again. Canadian Americana/folk singer-songwriter Tia McGraff has just released a fabulous seventh album, “Stubborn In My Blood”. The new album is her most personal album to date, and features 11 thoughtful and reflective songs – most written with her partner Tommy Parham alongside co-writes with Wood Newton, Pete Riley, Henry Priestman and Devon O’Day and a cover of the classic “One Tin Soldier”. It’s an album that’s clearly intended to move and inspire her growing worldwide audience. With some great musicianship and support from some of the industry’s top players, powerful lyrics and strong vocals, and an album cover that features Tia in boxing gloves, its clear that this time around, she’s not holding anything back! As well as the new album, Tia is now also a published author having released a children’s book, Jake The Road Dawg, based on her dog Jake’s adventures on the road with a couple of crazy touring musicians. Tia will be appearing at the Fred Eaglesmith Charity Picnic in Aylmer on August 18 and at MacKenzie Hall Cultural Centre in Windsor ON on Friday August 24 before heading to the UK for a September tour. We caught up with Tia at home in Port Rowan ON to chat about the new project. For more information about the album and upcoming tour dates, visit tiamcgraff.com. Music: Tia McGraff “Pilot Of Change”, “Let ’em See Your Strong”, “Travelin’ By Guitar” and “Stubborn In The Blood” from “Stubborn In The Blood” (2018, Bandana Records).
The 2018 Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival takes place the weekend of August 17-19 in Kelso Park, on the shores of Georgian Bay, just outside Owen Sound. A beautiful site – it’s the perfect situation for a summer festival. Each year, Summerfolk prides itself in putting together a wonderful musical line-up, and the 2018 edition is no exception. This year’s festival, the 43rd edition, features more than 40 different musical acts from Canada and across the world in genres that range from folk, roots, country and bluegrass, to blues, and even hip-hop and funk. As always, there are also lots of children’s activities, community workshops, artisan booths, dozens of food vendors… and two licensed areas. To learn more about this summer’s festival we caught up with artistic director James Keelaghan. Check out the full Summerfolk line-up HERE. GET TICKETS. For more information about Summerfolk, visit summerfolk.org. Music: Calan, “Senwir Solomon” from “Solomon” (2017, Sain Recordiau Cyf.), Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer “Get Ready” from “Apocalipstick” (2017, self) and Vishtèn “Figeac” from “Vishtèn Live” (2009, Sandbar Music).
A fabulous live performer, Cameroonian Canadian guitarist and singer-songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué blends together blues, afro-roots and soul with some jazzy overtones, to create a sound that is very much her own. Cécile Doo-Kingué is two thirds of the way through a trilogy “Anybody Listening”. “Part 1: Monologues” (2015), was a solo acoustic recording exploring the blues and roots of everyday life while “Part 2: Dialogues” (2016) featured a full band and special guests on a similar set of songs. Cécile will compete the project with “Part 3: Communion” (expected 2019-20), a live recording showcasing her exceptional guitar playing, soulful vocals, and powerful songwriting. Cécile Doo-Kingué sat down with Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio to chat about her music after an exhilarating show at the 2018 Hillside Festival. Check out Cécile Doo-Kingué online at cdkmusik.com. Music: Cécile Doo-Kingué “Thankful” from “Anybody Listening: The Dialogues” (2016, Self).
Newfoundland’s Fortunate Ones feature the fine musicianship and close harmonies of Catherine Allan and Andrew James O’Brien. Known for their fabulous live performances, their critically acclaimed 2015 album “The Bliss” earned them a Juno nomination, and took home the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year. They describe their new album “Hold Fast” (2018) as a study in resilience and partnership in the face of adversity, and features songwriting collaborations with Alan Doyle (Great Big Sea), Tim Baker (Hey Rosetta!), and Meg Warren (Repartee) alongside in studio support from Jim Bryson, Good Lovelies, Alexa Dirks (Begonia) and Kinley Dowling (Hey Rosetta!). The new album was recorded in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia with Daniel Ledwell. Catherine and Andrew joined Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Hillside Festival to chat about their music, and the new album. Check out the Fortunate Ones online at fortunateones.ca. Music: Fortunate Ones, “Hold Fast” from “Hold Fast” (2018, Old Farm Pony Records).