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).
Toronto based troubadour singer-songwriter Jay Aymar has just released a new album that is surely his most complete artistic statement to date. Drawing comparison to no less than Canadian icon Leonard Cohen, with a nod to the groundbreaking work of Tom Waits, “Your Perfect Matador” sets out to explore love and yearning, and the place of art in our society or as his publicity material describes it… The acclaimed wordsmith and performer pulls out all the creative stops on these nine tracks spinning a poetic fable of seduction, obsession and addiction — while washing it down with a narcotic cocktail of edgy post-Americana, swampy southern roots-rock and even menacing soul-funk. I think you get the picture – this vision is fully realized. Musically the new album, produced by Michael Phillip Wojewoda, is an all-enveloping sonic wonder with some fabulous support from Champagne James Robertson on electric guitar, Robbie Grunwald (keyboards), Devon Henderson (bass), Wojewoda (drums, additional keyboards), Drew Dureka (strings) and wonderful cameo vocal performances by Alejandra Ribera, Shakura S’Aida and Chloe Charles. We caught up with Jay Aymar at home in Toronto to chat about the new album. Visit Jay Aymar online at jayaymar.com. Music: Jay Aymar “Your Poet Bleeding”, “Us Wild Dogs” and “The Greatest Story Never Told” from “Your Perfect Matador” (2018, Self).
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).
There are no interviews on Episode 418 of Folk Roots Radio as we check out more of our favourite albums of the year. We’ve already released The Top 10 on Episode 417 of Folk Roots Radio. This time around we check out The Next 15, featuring some of our favourite tracks from those albums. It’s a great privilege to bring lots of great music and interviews to you each week on Folk Roots Radio, something we’re looking forward to continuing throughout the next year. Listen to tracks from The Next 15 and check out the full playlist below.
It’s that time of year… we’re holding back the interviews on Folk Roots Radio as we check out our ten favourite albums of 2018. One of the best things about doing a radio show is getting loads of great music to listen to each week. One of the hardest things to do, though, is to take all that fabulous music and narrow it down to your ten favourite recordings of the year. To make the selection process go as smoothly as possible, I actually start off with about 40 albums that I’ve really enjoyed, and narrow that down to a 25 album long list, and then select what I consider my ten favourite albums. You can check out The Top 10 on this episode, and The Next 15 on Episode 418 of Folk Roots Radio. So here they are… in reverse order, Folk Roots Radio’s favourite albums of 2018. Listen to The Top 10 and check out the full playlist below.
Episode 416 is the third of three special episodes of Folk Roots Radio to celebrate the season. An all music episode, we move towards the end of the year with a selection of music that covers the bases… we have some seasonal music, we have some wintery music and we also have some music that sounds wintery but actually it’s a bit political. It’s all good stuff, because on this show we only play good music and if we’re going to play it, it has to feel good next to everything else. So sit back, grab another glass of egg nog and enjoy more Folk Roots Radio at the end of the year with music from Laura Mulcahy, Georgian Bay, The O’Pears, Bill Keith, Richard Ruane & Beth Duquette, Randall Kromm, Katherine Rondeau, Iain Thomson And Marc Duff, Arnie Naiman, Carla Gover & Zoey Barrett (from Zoe Speaks), Naming The Twins, Laura Zucker, Susan J. Berman, Sofia Talvik and Ian Foster & Nancy Hynes. Check out the full playlist below.
We’re back with more holiday music on Episode 415 of Folk Roots Radio. I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas music, I just hate the way it gets used as a cheap marketing tool, especially if you’re in the mall, or the grocery store or dare I say it, listening to the radio. So here it is, another attempt at some thoughtful and insightful holiday music programming – featuring mostly new self-written songs, and if they’re not original compositions, well let’s just say the artists concerned definitely take them off the beaten track. We also talk to Cambridge ON singer-songwriter Allison Lupton about her new Christmas single “The Eve of Christmas Day”, recorded with the fabulous English vocal trio The Young’uns alongside music from The O’Pears, Faron Young, Eddie Cletro with The Frontiersmen, Jimmy Witherspoon, Hank Snow, Johnny Salad, Ian Foster & Nancy Hynes, Meghan Cary, Lennie Gallant, Bob MacLean, Naming The Twins, Randall Kromm, Delta Moon, Sarah Smith and Suzzy Roche with Family and Friends. So take off your Santa suit, put your feet up and enjoy some great music to celebrate the season! Check out the full playlist below.
We love seasonal music on Folk Roots Radio – what we don’t love is more straight up versions of the same old Christmas songs and carols. Join us on Episode 414 of Folk Roots Radio as we celebrate the season with a selection of music that’s mostly new, independent and definitely interesting. We also include an interview with Chris McKhool, the leader of world music combo, the Sultans Of String, who are taking their “Christmas Caravan” back out on the road this holiday season alongside music from Ian Foster & Nancy Hynes, Rich Krueger, Reg Meuross, Kelly’s Lot, Vi Wickam, Bob Jensen & Tony McManus, Rachael Sage, Mara Levine, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and Eric Gerber. It’s a great episode, and the perfect accompaniment to a glass of your favourite tipple and a mince pie, or two. Check out the full playlist below.
North Carolina singer-songwriter Jonathan Byrd has just released his latest album “Pickup Cowboy”, the follow up to his great 2014 album “You Can’t Outrun The Radio”. The new album was actually delayed for a couple of years, after the sad death of cellist Paul Ford – long time member of Jonathan’s backing band ‘The Pickup Cowboys’. Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumour on the last day of recording the new album, and passed away a year later. The album was finally completed in Winnipeg with the help of Joanna Miller on drums, and Alexa Dirks and Andrina Turenne on backing vocals alongside Byrd and long time multi-instrumentalist and guitarist Johnny Waken. Pickup Cowboy features ten songs, eight Byrd originals (one a co-write with Charles Humphrey III, formerly with the Steep Canyon Rangers) and two songs by fellow singer-songwriter Matt Fockler, the inspiration for the title track. To learn more about the new album, we caught up with Jonathan Byrd at home in North Carolina. Visit Jonathan Byrd online at jonathanbyrd.com. Music: Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys “Pickup Cowboy”, “When The Well Runs Dry” and “Do You Dream” from “Pickup Cowboy” (2018, Waterbug Records).
We celebrate the start of winter on Episode 413 of Folk Roots Radio with an interview with Toronto based vocal trio The O’Pears who have just released a lovely winter themed second album “Stay Warm”. We also stay with the winter theme as we check out music from Allison Lupton, Kenneth Paul Cooper, Kim Moberg, Sofia Talvik, Bob MacLean, David Lamotte and Katey Laurel. Check out the full playlist below.
Episode 412 of Folk Roots Radio features an interview with banjo toting Manitoba based roots singer-songwriter, Carly Dow, who sat down with us at the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about her great new sophomore release “Comet”. We also check out more of the new music we’ve received including new releases from Caribou Run, Davie Furey, David Milton, Rachel Beck, Jesse Matas, Craig Bickhardt, Ben Heffernan and Abigail Lapell. Check out the full playlist below.
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.
“Stay Warm”, the new winter themed album by Toronto’s The O’Pears is quite lovely, and highly recommended for those of us who love snuggling up with some good tunes during the dark days of the winter. This is definitely not your typical seasonal fare, as it very carefully skirts the schmaltz and over the top nature of many holiday albums, in favour of a grounded approach that focuses more on winter as the season, recognizes the challenges that many people feel at this time of year, but also celebrates the joy of settling down to enjoy the shortest of days with family and good friends. The album features twelve songs – seven originals (including a musical version of Boris Pasternak’s poem “Winter’s Night”), a well chosen cover (Joni Mitchell’s River) and a few winter classics with some fine band arrangements, beautiful harmonies and wonderful a cappella. To learn more about the new album, we caught up with Lydia Persaud, Meg Contini & Jill Harris from the O’Pears at home in Toronto. For more information about The O’Pears and their upcoming tour dates visit theopears.com. Music: The O’Pears “A Candle Burned”, “Stay Warm”, “Hearts Grow Fonder” and “Find The Sun” from “Stay Warm” (2018, 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.
Crooked Brother Jesse Matas released a fabulous solo album this year, “Tamarock”. Every now and again an album pops up on your radar that makes you sit up take notice – Tamarock is one of those albums. Jesse Matas has a great vocal style, the album features some fine playing, with a lovely sonic palate and a production that really gives all the instruments space to breath. But, above all, it’s full of some really interesting songs with great lyrical imagery – and that’s what makes this album, a recording that you really need to check out. Recorded (mostly) live-off-the-floor at Private Ear Recording in Winnipeg MB, Tamarock is Jesse’s first release since 2014’s “Thank You, I’m Sorry”, the third album from the Crooked Brothers. It’s definitely one of our favourite albums of the year. We caught up with Jesse Matas at home in Waterloo ON to chat about the new album. Upcoming dates (solo): Burdock (Toronto, December 6), Yeti Cafe (Kitchener,December 7), Silence (Guelph, December 8). Visit Jesse Matas online at jessematas.com. Music: Jesse Matas “Hardline”, “Monarch”, “Walking Human”, “Before, We” from “Tamarock” (2018, Self) CDN.
We don’t normally cover jazz on Folk Roots Radio but this is a rather special event, and the perfect gift for a loved one this holiday season. Acclaimed Canadian singer and pianist Carol Welsman will be coming to the Mary Webb Centre in Highgate ON on Saturday December 15 for a very special show of jazz and pop holiday classics billed as a Baby Grand Jazz Christmas. There will also be wine tasting courtesy of Pelee Island Winery and a Christmas Market. The show starts at 8 p.m. (Doors at 6 p.m.). Tickets are $40 in advance ($45 on the day of the concert). You can buy tickets online HERE. Carol Welsman joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the show. Visit Carol Welsman online at carolwelsman.com. Music: Carol Welsman “What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life” from “Swing, Ladies, Swing – A Tribute To Singers Of The Swing Era” (1999, Welcar Music) and “The Christmas Song” from “Journey” (promotional single) (2011, Justin Time) CDN.
Windsor ON singer-songwriter Karen Morand joins us in the studio on Episode 411 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about her great new EP, “Every Flash Of Light” which was recorded in St.Thomas, ON with Deni Gauthier. We also check out more of the new music we’ve received including music from Lucy Kaplansky, Joe Crookston, Dave McEathron, Ray Lambiase, Rich Krueger, Dave Hadfield and Natalie Merchant & Friends. Check out the full playlist below.
Episode 410 of Folk Roots Radio features an interview with singer-songwriter Ken Tizzard chatting about his latest release “A Good Dog Is Lost” – his loving tribute to Newfoundland Songsmith Ron Hynes who sadly passed away in 2015. We also check out more of the latest new releases, including new music from Paul Sachs, House Of Hamill, Tom Rush, Abby Zotz, Steafan & Saskia, Jesse Winchester and The Lay Awakes. Check out the full playlist below.
Sultans Of String are taking their Christmas Caravan out on the road again this holiday season, with an extensive tour that takes in B.C. and Ontario and then heads into the US, and depending on the date features some special guests. Christmas Caravan isn’t your typical holiday album – as the band and their guest performers take seasonal music into another realm altogether, with some fine vocals performances, wonderful high octane world beat music and some fabulous virtuoso musicianship. On this tour, the Sultans of String will also be raising money for the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) in Canada who provide shelter, food, water, medical care and other life-saving assistance to refugees around the world. You can donate online HERE. Sultans of String leader Chris McKhool joined us again on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the upcoming tour. Check out all their tour dates at sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String “Jesous Ahatonhia (Huron Carol)” (feat. Crystal Shawanda) and “The Little Swallow/Al Vuelo” (feat. The City of Prague Symphony Orchestra) from “Christmas Caravan” (2017, Self) CDN.