We catch up with Big Little Lions on Episode 421 of Folk Roots Radio. It’s at least a couple of years since we last sat down with Helen Austin and Paul Otten from the band to chat about their music. Always a great conversation, Big Little Lions released their very well-received third full length album “Alive And Well” earlier in 2018. Full of clever hooks and great harmonies, and, in some cases, a distinct message – it’s definitely worth checking out. We also check out more of the latest new releases and this time round we include new music from Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Lennie Gallant, Jane Yolen & 3 Ravens, Bob MacLean and Caribou Run. Check out the full playlist below.
Mara Levine from New Jersey joins us on Episode 419 of Folk Roots Radio for a wonderful conversation about her music. Mara Levine is not a songwriter, but she is a fine, fine singer, and a great interpreter of other people’s songs. She’s just released a fabulous new album “Facets of Folk”, which features 13 tracks that showcase various different faces of folk music, often with a strong social conscience, and including favourites from Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen and Christine Lavin alongside some new discoveries from contemporary songwriters. And while Mara is with us, she also sings a song from Facets of Folk live. We also check out more of the new albums we’ve received including new music from Jesse Parent, T Buckley, Dave McEathron, Jenie Thai, Andrea Bettger, Niall Teague and the Fast Company, Merry Hell, Mike T. Kerr and Ben Heffernan. Check out the full playlist below.
Shawn William Clarke is a wonderfully quirky and engaging singer-songwriter who really deserves a wider audience. His last two solo albums “William” (2014) and “Topaz” (2017) were very well-received, and both made our long list for favourite albums of the year. A second trip to Europe on tour, another visit to Iceland for some off-venue gigs at the Iceland Airwaves festival, alongside picking up Folk Music Ontario‘s 2018 Songs from the Heart award for best instrumental for “Bellwoods Park” (from the William album) and a very well-received official showcase at the FMO conference, made 2018 a year to remember. It’s always fun to chat to Shawn about his music. We sat down with him at FMO for a great conversation and a couple of live songs, including another new song. Visit Shawn William Clarke online at shawnwilliamclarke.com. Music: Shawn William Clarke “Young In Love (At The End Of The World)” (Live), “Everybody Gets Sad Sometimes” (Live) and “The Tourists” from “Topaz” (2017, Self) CDN.
Long Island based folk band Gathering Time are an excellent harmony trio in the tradition of Peter, Paul & Mary, with a little bit of Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Byrds and Joni Mitchell thrown into the mix. The band features Stuart Markus and Gerry McKeveny on guitars and vocals, with Hillary Foxsong on percussion and vocals. Their latest album is the very well-received “Keepsake” from 2016. Gathering Time joined us in the mobile studio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference for a fun conversation about their music and a couple of live songs, with vocal support from Mara Levine. Visit Gathering Time online at gathering-time.com. Music: Gathering Time “Too Far To Turn Back Now” (Live), “You Were Always On My Mind” (Live) and “Westerly” from “Keepsake” (2016, Treble G Records).
New Jersey based Mara Levine is a fabulous singer, and a great interpreter of other people’s songs. She’s just released a lovely third album “Facets Of Folk” the follow up to “Jewels and Harmony” (2013) and her debut “Mara’s Gems” (2009) which were both well-received. A very well curated collection, Facets of Folk features 13 tracks that showcase various different faces of folk music, often with a strong social conscience, and including favourites from Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen and Christine Lavin alongside some new discoveries from contemporary songwriters. Mara Levine tours across the US, often with Gathering Time (Stuart Markus, Hillary Foxsong, and Gerry McKeveny). She also performs as a duo with both Terry Kitchen, and Caroline Cutroneo. Mara Levine sat down with Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about her music, and shared a live version of Tommy Sands “Daughters and Sons”, which appears on the new album. For more information visit maralevine.com. Music: Mara Levine “You Reap What You Sow” from “Facets of Folk” (2019, Self), “Daughters and Sons” (live) and “By My Silence” (with Gathering Time) from “Facets of Folk” (2019, Self).
Multi-instrumentalist Ellen Froese grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, and describes herself as a young hip-swinger who is not Joan Baez or a sheep, but the vibrato in her voice may suggest otherwise – which provides a big hint as to how much fun she is on stage. Ellen, who is also a member of folk trio In With The Old (currently on hiatus), released her second solo album “Ellen Froese” in Fall 2017. She’s now working on the follow-up with her backing band ‘The Hot Toddies’. Ellen Froese sat down with Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about her music. Visit Ellen Froese online at ellenfroese.com. Music: Ellen Froese “New Year’s”, “Oh Alice” and “I Wish I Had A Foot Long Cigarette” from “Ellen Froese” (2017, Self) CDN.
The Big Little Lions are Helen Austin and Paul Otten. A remarkable songwriting duo, they actually live in two different places – Helen on Vancouver Island, and Paul in Cincinnati OH, and send song ideas back and forward as they work on them, individually and together. Big Little Lions released their latest album “Alive And Well” in February 2018 – a very well received folk pop recording chock full of poppy songs with clever hooks and great harmonies, and, in some cases, a distinct message. Helen and Paul from Big Little Lions sat down with Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about their music. Visit Big Little Lions online at biglittlelions.com. Music: Big Little Lions “Against The Wall”, “Static” and “Find Your Tribe” from “Alive And Well” (2018, Self) CDN.
Everyone loves a good story. Winnipeg country roots troubadour, Kevin Roy, shares his songs as if telling a story for the first time over morning coffee. He delivers poignant folk ballads, wry wit toe-tappers, and barnburners with the right balance of aw-shucks honesty and unbridled enthusiasm. Kevin released his very well received first full length long player “Heartworn Highways” in 2016. Kevin Roy sat down with Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about his music and play a few tunes live. It’s a great session, and definitely worth a listen. Check out Kevin Roy’s upcoming tour dates online at kevinroymusic.com. Music: Kevin Roy “The Mighty River” (live), “Taller Than The Trees” (Live) and “Gone With The Wind” (Live).
Multi-instrumentalist (fiddle, mandolin, guitar and piano) singer-songwriter; two time Juno Award winner; and inductee in the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, Shari Ulrich has released 23 albums to date during a storied career that has also included work with Pied Pumkin, The Hometown Band, Ulrich Henderson Forbes (UHF), Bentall Taylor Ulrich (BTU), and the bluegrass band, The High Bar Gang. As a songwriter, Shari is a huge believer in serving the song. “It’s not about the ego or proving you are a great player. When I’m performing I’m celebrating the song and what it does for people.” Her most recent solo release, 2014’s “Everywhere I Go” took home the Canadian Folk Music Award for (English) Songwriter of the year. She’s currently hard at work on a new solo project and will be touring Ontario in May 2018 with her trio featuring her daughter Julia Graff (on violin, mandolin, guitar & vocals) and fellow High Bar Gang member Kirby Barber (on bass, guitar and vocals). Shari Ulrich sat down with Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference. To learn more about her music, visit shariulrich.com. Music: Shari Ulrich “Freefall” from “Everywhere I Go” (2014, Borealis Records), The High Bar Gang “Don’t This Road Look Rough & Rocky” from “Someday The Heart Will Trouble The Mind” (2016, Borealis Records) and Bentall Taylor Ulrich “You Got Lost” from “Tightrope Walk” (2016, Borealis Records).
Hamilton folk singer-songwriter Piper Hayes is getting ready to release her first full-length album, “Piper & Carson”, which also features her partner Carson Ritcey-Thorpe. Produced by Chris Bartos, the album was recorded live off the floor at Thorpe’s Organic Produce farm in Millgrove, ON (near Hamilton) in the summer of 2017. Joining Piper Hayes (lead vocal, rhythm guitar) on the album are Carson Ritcey-Thorpe (vocal, lead guitar), Kevin Neal (pedal steel), Leah Ritcey-Thorpe (back-up vocals) and Chris Bartos (upright bass, piano, electric and acoustic violin, electric guitar, Moog, vocals). Album release shows take place in Hamilton, at This Ain’t Hollywood, on Thursday, December 7, 2017, doors at 8:00 p.m. (show at 9:00 p.m.) and in Toronto, at The Dakota Tavern on Friday, December 8, 2017, doors at 6:00 p.m. (show at 7:00 p.m.). The support for the Hamilton show will be the great Guelph-based folk group The Lifers, while Owen Sound folk duo Our Shotgun Wedding join Piper for the Toronto release. Piper and Carson joined Jan Hall from Folk Roots Radio at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference for a fun chat about their music and a couple of live songs. For more information about Piper Hayes, visit pipersings.com. Music: Piper Hayes “In My Bones” from “Piper & Carson” (2017, Self), “Careless” (Live), “Big Red” (Live) and “Honey” from “Goodbye Mister Nice Guy” (2016, Self).
Growing up in Cape Breton, you’d expect Mike McKenna Jr. to have celtic music coursing through his veins. Indeed he has – his first instrument was a fiddle, but he also fell in love with the storytelling aspect of being a troubadour singer-songwriter with east coast grit in his voice. After leaving Cape Breton for a new home base in Montreal, Mike released his first E.P., “Travelin Man” in 2016. He’s currently readying his first full length album, “Pacific Northwest Bound”, for release in May 2017. Mike joined us in the studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about his music, and play three songs live. For more information about Mike McKenna Jr., visit mikemckennajr.com. Music: Mike McKenna Jr. “Travelin Man” from “Travelin Man” (2016, Self), “The Highway” (Live), “Little Things” (Live), “Die In The West” (Live) and “Take Me Home” from “Travelin Man” (2016, Self).
Montreal based troubadour singer-songwriter Bobby Dove released her debut album “Thunderchild” in October 2016. Recorded in Peterborough, Ontario with producer James McKenty (Blue Rodeo, Gordon Lightfoot), the album harks back to the golden age of country music, and features a mix of broody ballads, honky-tonkin two steps and reflections on the what-ifs of life. Bobby joined us in the studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about her music and to play a couple of songs live for us. For more information about Bobby’s music, visit bobbydove.com. Music: Bobby Dove, “Thunderchild” from “Thunderchild” (2016, Self), “Gridlock” (Live), “Another Doggone Day” (Live), “Too Late To Go Home” from “Thunderchild” (2016, Self).
Award-winning songwriter and full-time road dog, Winona Wilde has been slinging her boisterous brand of country-folk Canadiana all over Canada, the U.S & Europe for several years without rest. Wielding lyrical wit and fearless emotion, this born-again-Ontarian promises to be two parts funny and one part sad. A 2016 Folk Music Ontario Official Showcase Artist and 2015 BC Musician Magazine Songwriter of the Year, Winona Wilde joined us in the mobile studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about her music, and play a couple of new songs live. For more information, visit winonawilde.com. Music: Winona Wilde, “Dating Song” from “You Lose Some, You Lose Some” (2015, Self), Chick Singer (live), Wasted Time (live) and “Paper Clips For The Apocalypse” from “You Lose Some, You Lose Some” (2015, Self).
Multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and composer, the prolific, Benjamin Dakota Rogers is pushing the boundaries of traditional folk with each album release. Combining fiddle, guitar and mandolin with his unique voice and strong lyrics, he creates music that demands your attention. Benjamin has picked up Canadian Folk Music Awards nominations for each of his three releases; the “Wayfarer” E.P. from 2014, 2015’s “The Strong Man’s Address to the Circus Crowd” and his latest, “Whiskey & Pine”. Whiskey & Pine features 11 songs that showcase Benjamin’s strong vocals, powerful guitar and fiddle, with support from Chris Rait on stand-up bass, guitar and djembe. Benjamin joined us in the mobile studio at the recent Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about his music, and play three songs live. For more information about Benjamin’s music visit benjaminrogersmusic.com. Music: Benjamin Dakota Rogers “Soldier Song” from “Whiskey & Pine” (2016, Self), “Whiskey For Blood” (Live), “Mr. Robot” (Live), “Come Home” (Live) and “Whiskey & Pine” from “Whiskey & Pine” (2016, Self).
Self-described “pilgrims of funk, soul ‘n’ roll”, the fabulous Julian Taylor Band are heading out on an eleven date tour of Southern Ontario in support of their double vinyl release “Desert Star” (2016, Aporia Records) during February and March. Desert Star – one of our favourite albums of 2016, was originally released on four E.P.s before the vinyl version made its appearance last fall. If you love the sound of a funk, soul and rock n’roll band, with some folk, blues, jazz, reggae and calypso thrown into the mix, you definitely need to check them out – they’re wonderful live. The tour starts in Windsor at The Rondo on March 16, they’re at Aeolian Hall in London ON on March 25, with a Hamilton date at The Casbah on April 2. You can check out all the tour dates online at juliantaylorband.com. Julian Taylor sat down with us at the Folk Music Ontario conference this past October to chat about his music, and the new album. Music: Julian Taylor Band “Just A Little Bit”, “One Time”, Get Loud” and “Set Me Free” from “Desert Star” (2016, Aporia Records).
Corin Raymond is having a great start to 2017, with a Juno Award nomination for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year for “Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams”. The album was also named our favourite recording of 2016. Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is quintessential Corin Raymond, featuring some fabulous word craft on ten songs, eight co-written with other top drawer songwriters Jonathan Byrd, Sean Cotton, Rob Vaarmeyer, Rakhu Lokanathan and Jaxon Haldane alongside one Corin Raymond original, the glorious “Morning Glories” and a cover of Doug Norquay‘s “Best Demented Cowgirl Face” (one of the best and most intriguing song titles out there). The album also earned two nominations at the 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards, with David Gillis taking home the gong for Producer of the Year. Corin joined us in the mobile studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference this past October to chat about the making of “Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams”. For more information about Corin’s music, visit corinraymond.com. Music: Corin Raymond “Rain Bed”, “Two Miles Of Train”, “Best Demented Cowgirl Face” and “Under The Belly Of The Night” from “Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams” (2016, Local Rascal Records).
We’re all about the Folk Music Ontario (FMO) Developing Artist Program (formerly known as the FMO Youth Program) on Episode 295 of Folk Roots Radio. Each year during the annual conference, a group of youth performers are paired with mentors from the Ontario folk community to work on a showcase performance and participate in professional development activities. The programme is open to residents of Ontario and the National Capital Region, between the ages 15 and 21, who are chosen for their interest, ability and experience. This documentary features commentary and musical contributions from programme coordinator Treasa Levasseur; Mentors: Cécile Doo-Kingué, Christa Couture, Graydon James, Lynn Miles and Alysha Brilla; Youth: Brandon Girouard, Anita Cazzola, John Muirhead, Missy Bauman and Melina Hanke. The 31st annual FMO conference takes place October 19-22, 2017, at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites, 5875 Airport Road, Mississauga, ON. The closing date for the 2017 Folk Music Ontario Developing Artist Program is August 18. Learn more about the program HERE. Photo credit: Mike Bourgeault.
Graydon James and Laura Spink are the heart of Toronto’s The Young Novelists, a six piece folk-roots band when playing close to home, but pretty much everywhere else they’re stripped down to their essence, a finely tuned harmonizing duo. They’ve had a fabulous couple of years musically – their sophomore release, 2015’s “made us strangers” was very well received, taking home the prize for New/Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards and they’re now touring in the United States regularly. Graydon and Laura sat down with us at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about their music, travels, and future plans. Photo: Ana Muira Music: The Young Novelists, Always Make The Mistake and Hear Your Voice from Made Us Strangers (2015, Self)
The amazing Scottish singer-songwriter with the delicate and dexterous vocal delivery, Fraser Anderson, who now makes his home in the wonderful musical city of Bristol in the UK, joined us in our mobile studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about his music and latest album “Under The Cover Of Lightness” (released in April 2016). During our chat, Fraser played a couple of live songs and gave us a wonderful poem recitation. Our fun conversation included one of his first musical experiences – singing in his father’s butcher’s shop with an animal bone for a microphone, and one of his most meaningful, playing with Dougie MacLean for four years. The gorgeous Bex Baxter also joined us in the studio on harmony vocals. Fraser’s new digital EP recorded in Toronto, “Beautiful Eyes Ontario Skies” was released on November 4. For more information visit fraseranderson.com. Photo credit: Charles Gravely. Music: Fraser Anderson “Rising Sons” from “Under The Cover Of Lightness” (2016, Membran), “What Kind Of Man” (Live), “Beautiful Eyes” (Live), “With You All” (Live), “Crying From My Heart” from “Under The Cover Of Lightness” (2016, Membran).
Brian Blain, self-proclaimed semi-retired blues guy, “Blainsletter” blogger and managing editor of the Toronto Blues Society‘s Maple Blues newsletter, stopped by our mobile studio at the 2016 Folk Music Ontario conference for an immensely enjoyable conversation about his 40 plus years in the music business, the upcoming official release of his remix album “New Folk Blues 2.0” and to play a couple of tunes live. As always it was great fun. Brian will be celebrating “New Folk Blues 2.0” with a show at Toronto’s legendary Old Mill on Saturday, October 29 where he will be joined by George Koller, Michelle Josef and Alison Young, who all contributed to the remixed recording. For more information visit brianblain.com. Photo credit: Russ Kelley. Music: Brian Blain “Forgotten”, “The Ghost of Clinton’s Tavern” from “New Folk Blues 2.0” (2013, Self), “Cape Cod Blues” (Live) and “Last Time I Saw Lenny” (Live).