Well, it’s that time of year – time to run down our favourite albums of 2017. One of the best things about doing a radio show is that you get loads of great music to audition each week. One of the hardest things to do, though, is to take all that great music and narrow it down to your ten favourite recordings of the year. As someone who loves to make best of lists, it’s a fun thing to do, and, if, by doing that, I can expose people to new music they may not have heard, so much the better. As always, this Best of 2017 list only includes those albums that were received from October 1st, 2016 – September 30th, 2017. Listen to tracks from the Top 10 and check out the full playlist below.
Welcome to another hour of festive music for the holidays. Folk Roots Radio at Christmas features a selection of mostly new and original holiday music by independent artists, who hope to bring something new to a genre that’s often criticized as being a vapid and uninspiring marketing tool for a consumer culture, that, let’s be honest, goes mad during the holiday season. With that in mind, we’re also including an interview with Chris McKhool, the leader of world music combo, Sultans Of String, who talks enthusiastically and engagingly about their new spin on seasonal music, “Christmas Caravan”, which really attempts to bring something new to holiday standards many people see as tired, boring and, dare I say it, rather predictable. So here it is. Stoke up the fire, pour yourself some egg nog, settle down in your favourite chair and enjoy! Check out the full playlist below.
Well, it’s that time of year… time for a very special holiday season edition of Folk Roots Radio. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas music, I just hate the uninspiring way it gets used in the run up to the holiday… especially if you’re in the mall, or the grocery store or dare I say it, listening to the radio. So here it is, my 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 a little off the beaten track. Enjoy! Check out the full playlist below.
Winnipeg based singer-songwriter Raine Hamilton will release her second album “Night Sky” in March 2018. Raine sat down with Folk Roots Radio at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about her music and the new album. She also played a couple of new songs live. We’re pleased to bring that interview to Episode 353 of Folk Roots Radio and as always, we also check out more of the latest new releases including new music from Carmel Mikol, The Barrel Boys and Be Good Tanyas founder members Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton. Check out the full playlist below.
Episode 352 of Folk Roots Radio features an interview with Erin Costelo recorded at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference. Erin released a wonderful album in 2016, “Down Below, The Status Quo”, a fabulous slice of genre-bending soulful pop that skips from R&B/Soul to bluesy jazz, and an album that was deservedly one of our Favourite Albums of 2016. Erin joins us to chat about her current musical activities, including starting work on a new album in January. We also check out more of the best new releases including new music from Trent Severn, Susan Cattaneo, Janie Barnett & Blue Room and Edward Sayers. Check out the full playlist below.
Canadian world folk supergroup the Sultans of String have just released their first holiday album, “Christmas Caravan”. Turning the notion of holiday music completely on its head, the new album, recorded and co-produced with JUNO Award winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, features Quebecois fiddle tunes and collaborations with a traditional Turkish string ensemble, and jumps from a classic Andrews Sisters holiday sound, to a Himalayan sleigh ride, African roots music, Gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, ska, and the grandeur of the symphony. You name it, its in there. To help celebrate the season, the band brought in an all star cast of guest musicians including six times Grammy winning Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains), Ruben Blades & Luba Mason, platinum-selling jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky, Alex Cuba, Benoit Bourque of Quebec’s Bottine Souriante, African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Cameroon’s Richard Bona, Rebecca Campbell (Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette), singer Mary Fahl from NYC’s October Project, a recording collective of Turkish Roma violinists in Istanbul, Sudanese-Canadian singer Waleed Abdulhamid, Nashville-based JUNO Award winning country singer Crystal Shawanda, sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid, and hang drum player David Charrier from France. We caught up with Sultans of String fiddle maestro, Chris McKhool, at home in Toronto, to learn more about the new album. The Sultans of String will be touring the album across Canada in the run up to the holidays, including a visit to the Registry Theatre in Kitchener ON (December 1), the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto (December 2) and Aeolian Hall in London (December 3). Check out all the dates and visit the Sultans of String online at sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String, “Turkish Greensleeves”, “Himalayan Sleigh Ride” and “Hallelujah” from “Christmas Caravan” (2017, Self).
The winners of the 2017 Canadian Folk Music Awards were recently announced at a couple of very special gala evenings in Ottawa. On Episode 351 of Folk Roots Radio we feature music from some of the award winners alongside an interview with double award-winning singer-songwriter Ken Yates, recorded at this year’s Summerfolk. Ken took home the awards for both English Songwriter of the Year and New/Emerging Artist of the Year for his wonderful 2016 album “Huntsville”. Check out the playlist below.
We’re all about the Folk Music Ontario conference 2017 Developing Artist Program on Episode 350 of Folk Roots Radio. Each year during the annual conference, a group of developing artists – youth performers are paired with mentors from the Ontario folk community to work on a showcase performance and participate in professional development activities. Join us as we chat to participants in this year’s program and check out some of their music. The program 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 episode features commentary and musical contributions from program coordinator and mentor Treasa Levasseur; Mentors: Kaia Kater, Cindy Doire, AHI, Yao and Leonard Sumner; Youth: Madison Galloway, Sara Gougeon, Moscow Apartment, Ben Heffernan, Rachel Barber and Greg Smith. Learn more about the program HERE. Photo credit: Mike Bourgeault. Check out the full playlist below.
Fun bilingual Quebec roots trio Jabbour join us at the Folk Music Ontario conference on Episode 349 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about their music and play three songs live. We also check out more of the latest new releases including new music from Ashley Condon, Dennis Johnson, The Lifers and Harrow Fair with a fabulous version of The Rankin Family classic song “Fare Thee Well”. Check out the full playlist below.
We’re back at the Folk Music Ontario conference on Episode 348 of Folk Roots Radio for an interview with Hamilton Ontario singer-songwriter Piper Hayes & her partner Carson Ritcey-Thorpe. Piper is getting ready to release her first full-length album “Piper & Carson”. Piper and Carson join us in the studio for a fun chat about their music, and a couple of live songs from the new album. As always, we also check out more of the latest new releases. Check out the full playlist below.
We’re holding back on the interviews on Episode 347 of Folk Roots Radio as we bring you a themed hour of music for Remembrance Day. We had lots of great music choices to consider – starting with 30 songs before narrowing it down to the thirteen thought-provoking songs that we can squeeze into an hour. Heading off the beaten track we also feature a lot of fairly recent music. We hope you enjoy the mix we’ve put together. Check out the full playlist below.
Erin Costelo from Halifax NS released a wonderful album in 2016, “Down Below, The Status Quo”. A fabulous slice of genre-bending soulful pop that skips from R&B/Soul to bluesy jazz, the album was a joy from beginning to end, and deservedly one of our Favourite Albums of 2016. We caught up with Erin Costelo at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference, to chat about the critical response to the recording, and her current musical activities. To learn more about Erin Costelo, visit erincostelo.ca. Photo credit: Kimberly Sinclair. Music: Erin Costelo, “Fighter”, “Turn It On” and “The Line” from “Down Below, The Status Quo” (2016, Venue Records).
Montreal based blues roots performer Rob Lutes released a fabulous new album, “Walk In The Dark”, early this year. Featuring twelve strong originals, a couple of co-writes with award-winning Americana songwriter Dale Boyle and a cover of John Prine‘s “Rocky Mountain Time”, the album finds Lutes, a Kerrville New Folk winner, Maple Blues and Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee exploring a wide range of subjects and paying homage to some heroes: James Cotton (on “There’s No Way to Tell You That Tonight”) and guitarist Joseph Spence (on the instrumental “Spence”). Rob Lutes soulful voice, some great fingerstyle playing and support from some of the finest blues and roots players in the business, including regular side player guitarist Rob MacDonald, keyboardist Bob Stagg, Guy Bélanger on harmonica and Joe Grass on mandolin – the album is, truly, a tour de force. I’m sure it will up there for consideration at awards time. We caught with Rob on the road to chat about the new album. Check out Rob Lutes online at roblutes.com. Music: Rob Lutes “A Little Room”, “Believe In Something”, “Rabbit” and “Walk In the Dark” from “Walk In The Dark” (2017, Self).
Raine Hamilton, the Winnipeg based singer-songwriter with the ethereal voice and the wonderful string trio will release her second album “Night Sky” in March 2018. Recorded in Winnipeg with Lloyd Peterson, the album features eight new Raine Hamilton songs and two co-writes with support from, among others, her regular string trio members Quintin Bart on double bass and Natanielle Felicitas on cello. Raine joined us in the mobile studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference for a wonderful conversation about the making of the new album, plus two songs from the new album live and a first spin of the album’s first single “Lift Me Up”. You can also check out the new video for “Lift Me Up” HERE. For more information about the music of Raine Hamilton, visit rainehamilton.com. Music: Raine Hamilton “Robin Hood” (Live), “Bury My Heart” (Live) and “Lift Me Up” from “Night Sky” (2018, Self).
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).
Peterborough ON’s wonderful fuzz-folk duo Mayhemingways have had a fabulous couple of years since the release of their debut album “Hunter St. Blues”. Episode 346 of Folk Roots Radio features a great interview with Benj Rowland and Josh Fewings recorded at this year’s Summerfolk. And, as always, we also check out more of the new music we’ve received, including the latest albums from Sarah Hiltz, Margo Price, Tom Savage and Broomsticks And Hammers. Check out the full playlist below.
Jabbour are Guillaume Jabbour (Lachute, QC.), Carl Rufh (Ormstown, QC.) and Bill Collier (Charlottetown, P.E.I.). Having played in various bands prior (Grouyan Gombo, Les Perroquets, Durham County Poets), the three combined their creative abilities to form a project focused on original work and an engaging live sound. Walking the line that often separates Canada’s two solitudes drives songwriting that features dramatic waltzes, tales reminiscent of Quebec chansonniers, swinging rhythms and toe-tapping two-steps. Jabbour released their debut album “Round The Clock” in 2015. They are currently working on their next album, due in 2018. Jabbour joined Folk Roots Radio in the mobile studio at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about their music and play three songs live. Visit Jabbour online at jabbourband.com. Music: Jabbour “Honey” (Live), “Son Secret” (Live) and “You’re Gone” (Live).
Peterborough ON’s fuzz-folk duo Mayhemingways have had a fabulous couple of years since the release of their debut album “Hunter St. Blues”. The Mayhemingways have spent a lot of 2017 on a cross-Canada tour as side players and the support act for Bill & Joel Plaskett and their new collaboration “Solidarity”. Benj Rowland (synth. bass, accordion, banjo, guitar and vocals) and Josh Fewings (Drums, backing vocals) are now working on their sophomore release, provisionally titled “Skipland”. We caught up with the Mayhemingways at Summerfolk to chat about their music. To learn more about the Mayhemingways, visit mayhemingways.wordpress.com. Photo: Michelle Fortier. Music: Mayhemingways “Hunter St. Blues” from “Hunter St. Blues” (2015, Self).
Ken Yates is one of Canada’s brightest young singer-songwriters. Unforgettable melodies, emotionally charged storytelling, and top-notch guitar chops are all on display on his new Jim Bryson produced album “Huntsville” – its 11 tracks capturing his artistic evolution amid extensive touring over the past three years. We caught up with Ken at Summerfolk 2017 to chat about his music. Visit Ken Yates online at kenyates.com. Photo: Michelle Fortier. Music: Ken Yates, “Roll Me On Home” from “Huntsville” (2016, Self).
We’re holding back the interviews on Episode 345 of Folk Roots Radio to check out more of the best new releases we’ve received over the last few months. Join us for some great tracks from Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, Lynn Jackson, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Shawn William Clarke and more. Check out the full playlist below.
British Columbia singer-songwriter Ken Dunn released his seventh album “Wondrous Beauty” earlier this year. Ken joined us in the studio with partner Anna Green for an in-depth discussion about his music and the new album. We’re pleased to bring a portion of that interview to Episode 344 of Folk Roots Radio alongside a look at some of the best of the latest new releases. Check out the full playlist below.
Classically trained Toronto singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist Shawna Caspi has just released her fourth album “Forest Fire” – which is more of a band project than her previous releases. Shawna joined us in the studio recently to chat about the album and record a solo set for the video series, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions. We’re pleased to bring the interview from the session to Episode 343 of Folk Roots Radio alongside a look at more of the great new music we’ve been receiving. It’s a great hour of music and conversation. I hope you’ll check it out. Check out the full playlist below.
Toronto-based singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist Shawna Caspi has just released her fourth album “Forest Fire”. The new album features seven Shawna Caspi songs alongside cover versions of Lynne Miles “Brave Parade” and the “Tennessee Waltz” (Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King). Forest Fire was produced by Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith) with musical support from Rosalyn Dennett (fiddle, backing vocals), Joel Schwartz (electric guitar, baritone guitar, rhythm acoustic guitar, mandolin, resonator, tenor banjo), Dave Matheson (piano, organ), Alyssa Wright (cello), Ben Whiteley (standup bass) and Don Kerr (drums, backing vocals, cello). Shawna recently joined us in the Quantum Sound Productions studio in Kingsville Ontario to record an episode of the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions. Musicians join us in the studio to record six songs live and sit down with Folk Roots Radio to chat about their music. We’re pleased to bring our interview with Shawna to you today. For more information about the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions visit sunparloursessions.com. To learn more about Shawna Caspi, visit shawnacaspi.com. Photo: Dale Butler. Music: Shawna Caspi “Love In A Moving Van” and “Brave Parade” from “Forest Fire” (2017, Self).
Singer-songwriter Ken Dunn’s 2015 album “The Great Unknown” was one of my favourite albums of the year. An exquisite slice of beautifully played thoughtful folk with Ken Dunn’s lovely languid singing voice, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to it. His wonderful new album “Wondrous Beauty,” (his seventh,) is the start of a whole new relationship with his music. 10 new well-crafted Ken Dunn songs – with some really nice harmonies from partner and keyboard player Anna Green, some great fiddle from Tyler Beckett, and a lovely understated production from Ken himself. Ken joined us in the studio with partner Anna Green to chat about the new album. For information on Ken Dunn visit kendunnmusic.com. Photo: Michelle Fortier. Music: Ken Dunn: “Hold On”, “Hills Of Strathavon”, “Wondrous Beauty”, “Wild & Free” from “Wondrous Beauty” (2017, Self).
Brendan Scott Friel started his music career as the lead guitarist in well-received Windsor harmony rock combo The Brilliancy, before deciding to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. Earlier this year, Brendan joined us in the Quantum Sound Productions studio in Kingsville ON to record an edition of the video series, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions. Episode 342 of Folk Roots Radio features our interview with Brendan alongside live versions of three songs from his debut album “Quiet Cars”. As always, we also check out more of the latest new releases including new music from David Myles, Ian Sherwood and the Skydiggers. It’s a good one! I hope you’ll join us. Check out the full playlist below.