We’re getting close to the end of 2020, which means it’s time to announce our favourite albums of the year. After the challenging year we’ve all had, it’s tempting to just want to put 2020 behind us and move on to 2021 to what will, hopefully, be a much better year for everyone. And yet, despite everything, 2020 has actually been a great year for recorded music – especially for those us who tend to focus on music that artists release independently, or via small and boutique record labels. Many artists have actually been making excellent use of the lockdown time forced on them by the coronavirus pandemic to record some wonderful ‘Covid Tune’ singles, EPs and in some case, even full albums. We’ve had great fun sharing them with you this year. We’ve also been doing our best to keep up with regularly scheduled releases. It gives us great pleasure each year, once we have put holiday radio episodes to bed, to consider our favourite albums of the year. 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 is to take all that fabulous music and narrow it down to your ten favourite recordings of the year. You can check out The Top 10 on Episode 560 of Folk Roots Radio. We’ll be playing more of our favourite albums on upcoming episodes of Folk Roots Radio. If you don’t see an album you really loved, that’s likely because it didn’t make it up on our radar because we didn’t receive a copy. Please consider sharing your favourite albums in the comments – we might even spin them on a future episode of the show. Listen to The Top 10 on this episode, and check out the full playlist and the rest of our long list below. Enjoy!
We included an excerpt from our excellent interview with Rick Fines, discussing his wonderful new album “Solar Powered Too”, in Episode 550 of Folk Roots Radio. We’re now very pleased to make the full conversation available. Enjoy!
When Canadian roots and blues artist Rick Fines started work on his new project “Solar Powered Too”, his intent was simple – to make a new recording at his solar powered cottage in the Kawartha Highlands as a follow-up to his very well received “Solar Powered” album from 2006. Initially intended to be just a guitar and voice solo recording, this album has grown into something rather special with some nicely judged guest appearances from some of his friends and a beautifully sympathetic production from Rick with Alec Fraser. Truly a joy for the ears, this is one of those albums you put on, and listen right through to the end. An album that needs to be heard and one that we think will bring comfort to many during these strange, strange Covid times. Solar Powered Too deservedly found a place in Our Favourite Albums of 2020. To learn more about the music of Rick Fines, visit rickfines.ca. Music: Rick Fines “Below The Surface”, “Laundry On The Line”, “Worry Be The Death Of Me” and “Never Let Go” from “Solar Powered Too” (2020, Self).
The holidays are here! Join us on Episode 559 as we celebrate the season with another special blend of Folk Roots Radio for the Holidays, with mostly new, independent songs that are definitely not your typical holiday fare. This year we’ve even thrown some Covid Christmas tunes into the mix! So, throw another log on the fire, settle down in your favourite chair and enjoy music from Good Lovelies, Fresh Breath, Abbie Gardner & Matt Nakoa, Colleen Brown, RUNA, Hal Cannon, Lisa Jeanette, Dion, Brett Perkins & Tamra Rosanes, Skinner & T’witch, Fortunate Ones, Skye Zentz, Screaming Orphans, Eoin Glackin, Céleste Lévis, Philip Scott Poli, Ed Sweeney and Connie Kaldor. Check out the full playlist below.
December is here, and winter is upon us – so it’s time to bring out the Christmas music. We know a lot of people are not fans of holiday tunes which is why on this show we like to focus on new songs about the season rather than just the same old songs and tunes given a quick makeover. And if we play something that’s not a new song, well that’s because the artist has taken it somewhere rather special indeed. So, join us for Episode 558 of Folk Roots Radio – the first of two episodes of Folk Roots Radio for the Holidays, which features solstice songs, winter songs, Hanukkah songs and Christmas songs from RUNA, Sara Thomsen & Paula Pedersen, Connie Kaldor, Ed Sweeney, The Honey Larks, Jackie Washington, MacMaster Leahy Family, Finest Kind, SONiA disappear fear, Aaron Nathans & Michael G Ronstadt, Kelly’s Lot, Tony Turner, Céleste Lévis, Ken Tizzard & Music For Goats, Josh Kimbrough and Jeffrey Straker. Check out the full playlist below.
Nova Scotian funeral director turned songwriter Terra Spencer joins us on Episode 557 of Folk Roots Radio for a very engaging conversation about her wonderful wintery themed second album “Chasing Rabbits”, that reflects on many aspects of life – relationships, travel, going away to college, and, above all, the joy of getting to come home again. It’s a great interview – and settling into an album that reflects on the important things in life is just what we need after the year we’ve all experienced. We continue the winter theme throughout the rest of the episode, and feature music from Ian Gill, Colleen Kattau, Reid Jamieson, Stephan Moccio, Kathleen Healy and Grant-Lee Phillips. Check out the full playlist below.
Vancouver based singer-songwriter Leah Barley joins us on Episode 556 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about her first full length album “Bring Out Your Dead” which features eight original songs for both guitar and banjo – ranging from foot stomping love songs to others that are dark and broody, and, clearly, quite personal. It’s a great listen, and an excellent interview – we hope you’ll stay with us to check it out. As always, we wrap up the episode with more of the new music we’ve received and this time around we hear from Braden Gates, Julie Title, Tré Burt, Gwenifer Raymond, Ordinary Elephant, Chris Pierce and Cidny Bullens. Check out the full playlist below.
Folk trio Boreal, who feature singer-songwriters Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, and Angie Nussey, join us on Episode 555 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about their holiday show, Songs For The Snowy Season. In early December, each year, Boreal heads out on the road for a series of shows that celebrate winter and the upcoming Christmas season. Things are going to be a bit different this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Instead of a whole series of shows, there will be just one performance – a FREE live-streamed performance direct from the River Run Centre in Guelph ON on December 11 at 8 p.m. It’s a fun interview, and it’s always great to be able to chat with Katherine, Tannis, and Angie about their Christmas show, especially as this year everyone, wherever they are, can enjoy one of the highlights of our holiday season. We continue the snow song theme through the rest of the episode and also feature music by Ellis Delaney, The Hello Darlins, Dayna Manning, RUNA, Ted Yoder, Tara MacLean & Adam Brazier, and Melissa Ferrick. Check out the full playlist below.
Sultans of String, released a fabulous new recording “Refuge” earlier this year – an album that highlights the extraordinary contributions that indigenous people, immigrants and refugees make to culture and life in North America. Refuge features collaborations with over 30 musicians including Béla Fleck, Robi Botos, Ifrah Mansour, Demetrios Petsalakis, Imad Al Taha, Amir Amiri, Duke Redbird and Twin Flames. Sultans of String were supposed to be out on tour across both North America and the UK this year but because of the on-going pandemic none of that has been able to happen. Chris McKhool violinist and leader of the band joins us on a very special Covid Times edition of our video sister show, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions to chat about the new album, and how the band has been impacted by the on-going emergency while sharing some of the fabulous videos they have prepared to support what is truly a fantastic project. Unfortunately because of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t been able to record any more video sessions, so we’ve switched to a socially distanced interview format similar to Folk Roots Radio. Since we started the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, we’ve had 50 different artists/bands join us in the studio. Check them out online at sunparloursessions.com. Enjoy!.
Boreal are a fabulous folk trio featuring three great singer-songwriters: Guelph ON’s Katherine Wheatley and Tannis Slimmon and Orillia ON’s Angie Nussey . They get together in early December each year for a series of shows that celebrate ‘the snowy season’ with some wonderful original songs and holiday classics. This year however is going to be a bit different because we’re in the midst of the Covid pandemic – so instead of a whole series of shows, there will be just one performance. But guess what… this time around they’ll be live-streaming a FREE ‘virtual performance’ from the River Run Centre in Guelph on Friday December 11 at 8 p.m. Everyone, no matter where they are, can enjoy a show that has become a highlight of our holiday season. Alongside the upcoming live-streamed show, Boreal have also released a great new single, a Katherine Wheatley song, “Snow Falls Down”. Folk Roots Radio caught up with Katherine, Tannis, and Angie for a fun chat about the upcoming livestream and the new single. If you’d like to register for the livestream – remember it’s FREE, you can do so by signing up for the River Run Centre newsletter HERE. For more information about Boreal, visit borealsongs.ca. Music: Boreal “Snow Falls Down” (single), “Warm Hands” (single) and “Carol Of The Bells” & “Gotta Go” from “Winter’s Welcome” (2014, Self).
Helen Austin and Paul Otten are two fabulous songwriters who make music together as Big Little Lions. They were on tour as the coronavirus pandemic hit, and despite having to head home and into lockdown, they have continued to make great music – including the release of a pandemic inspired album “Are We there Yet?”. They join us on a special ‘Covid Times’ edition of our video sister show, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, for a fun in-depth conversation about how their lives and their music have been changed by the on-going emergency, while sharing some of the great videos they have been producing in lockdown. Unfortunately because of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t been able to record any more video sessions, so we’ve switched to a socially distanced interview format similar to Folk Roots Radio. Since we started the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, we’ve had 50 different artists/bands join us in the studio. Check them out online at sunparloursessions.com. Enjoy!.
We have another very special interview to bring you on Episode 554 of Folk Roots Radio. Hamilton ON based duo Piper Hayes & Carson Ritcey Thorpe who make music together as Piper & Carson, join us to chat about their wonderful new recording “Edgewalker’s Remedy” – a concept album specifically designed to provoke reflection about our lives and what we all take for granted. Piper & Carson definitely walk the talk, and firmly believe that folk music can change the world. They describe their work as deeply rooted in intention and both have a strong desire to use their platform to promote social change and self-awareness. So, settle down and enjoy Piper & Carson in Conversation – Edgewalker’s Remedy on Folk Roots Radio. Check out the full playlist below.
Singer-songwriter and humorist Steve Poltz joins us on a special ‘Covid Times’ edition of our video sister show, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, to chat about how he has been spending his time off the road during these strange, strange times – including the release of a wonderful lockdown single, appropriately entitled “Quarantine Blues”. Unfortunately because of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t been able to record any more video sessions, so we’ve switched to a socially distanced interview format similar to Folk Roots Radio. Since we started the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, we’ve had 50 different artists/bands join us in the studio. Check them out online at sunparloursessions.com. Enjoy!
We’re holding back the interviews on Episode 553 of Folk Roots Radio to bring you another hour of great new music to help you get through these strange Covid times. This time around we hear from The Bengsons, Gillian Tuite, Moira & Claire, Beppe Gambetta, Big Little Lions, Michael Lane, River North, Reid Jamieson, The Avenoir Project, Flo Perlin & Pilgrims’ Dream, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, iskwē & Tom Wilson (Lee Harvey Osmond), Tomato Tomato, Langhorne Slim and Ricky Green & Danny Traves. Remember, if you like the artists you hear on this show, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music and then you’ll really make a difference to their income during this difficult time when it’s much more challenging to find live shows. Check out the full playlist below.
Fresh Breath‘s Josh & Katie Pascoe are probably two of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. In fact, they really walk the talk – proudly describing themselves as artists whose attitude is gratitude. They join us on a special ‘Covid Times’ edition of our video sister show, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, to chat about the great singles, with accompanying videos, they recorded during Covid-19 lockdown. Unfortunately because of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t been able to record any more video sessions, so we’ve switched to a socially distanced interview format similar to Folk Roots Radio. Since we started the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, we’ve had 50 different artists/bands join us in the studio. Check them out online at sunparloursessions.com. Enjoy!
Tecumseh ON singer-songwriter Glen MacNeil joins us on Episode 552 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about his new self-titled EP, the follow up to the wonderful “Where The Heart Remains” from 2015 – one of our favourite albums of that year. The new EP, most of which was recorded in Covid lockdown, is also an excellent album. As always, we wrap up the episode with more of the latest new releases and this time around we hear from Leah Barley, Sophia Clark, Terra Spencer, Grace Pettis, Redi Hasa, Steve Conn and VISSIA. Check out the full playlist below.
Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn from Vancouver based folk collective The Fugitives join us on Episode 551 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about their wonderful new album “Trench Songs”, which takes as its source material, lyrics from songs written by frontline soldiers during the First World War – set to new music from the band. It’s a great interview. We hope you’ll stay with us to check it out. As always, we wrap up the episode with more new releases, and this time around we hear from Christa Couture, Emily Rockarts, Karl Mullen, Ian Foster, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc and James Gates. Check out the full playlist below.
Canadian roots and blues artist Rick Fines joins us on Episode 550 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about his truly fabulous new folk blues album “Solar Powered Too” which started out as a straightforward guitar and voice album, to be recorded at his solar powered cottage in the Kawartha Highlands, before turning into something rather special. It’s a really great interview – we can only bring part of it to you on this episode, but we do hope you’ll check it out, as we’re sure this album will feature in our favourite albums of 2020. We’ll be releasing the full interview very soon, so stay tuned for that. As always, we wrap up the episode with more new releases and this time around we hear from JJ Shiplett, Maybe Babs, Justin Farren, Kennedy Road, Brian Blain, The Mastersons, David Gillis, Donal Hinely and Dan Tuffy. Check out the full playlist below.
Vancouver based folk collective The Fugitives have just released a fabulous new album “Trench Songs” which takes as its source material, lyrics from songs written by frontline soldiers during the First World War – set to new music from the band. The album is based on “Ridge”, a new stage show by The Fugitives’ Brendan McLeod which was due to be performed in front of a live audience at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver this past March. Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, those live shows had to be cancelled – however Ridge has now been re-imagined as a feature film, using a variety of locations throughout the Chan Centre to tell the story. Co-leaders of the Fugitives Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the new project. Watch the feature film version of Ridge HERE. For more information about The Fugitives, visit fugitives.ca. Music: The Fugitives “Thirteen Pence”, “Hymn 43”, “If I Could Turn The Clock Back”, “After Loos”, “The Next Man Who Dies”, “Where Do We Go, Boys” and “Take Me Back To Old Ontario” from “Trench Songs” (2020, Borealis Records).
We have a very special interview to bring you on Episode 549 of Folk Roots Radio. Aaron Jensen, the composer and arranger for Toronto based a cappella group Countermeasure joins us to chat about their new concept album “Guest Sessions” which features collaborations with world class instrumentalists like Kevin Fox, Christian Roberge, Randy Brecker, Evelyn Glennie and Natalie McMaster; each piece on the new recording being specifically tailored to compliment the sound and aesthetic of the guest artist. It’s a great album and an excellent interview – we hope you’ll check it out. We wrap up the episode with new songs inspired by Canadian icon Leonard Cohen (who left us four years ago) from Lynn Jackson, Imogen Joy and Shawn William Clarke; alongside two of the tracks that the great man was working on prior to his death, that are included on his posthumous album “Thanks For The Dance” – the sublime “The Goal” and the beautiful title track. Check out the full playlist below.
We’re holding back the interviews again on Episode 548 of Folk Roots Radio as we bring you an hour of the latest new releases including more Covid tunes, and some great new protest songs. Join us for new music from Paul Snider, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Philip Scott Poli, The Roxton Rambles with Ken Whiteley & Ceilidh Wood, Valeri Dimchev with Anton Apostolov & Valeri Pastarmadzhiev, Justin Farren, Brian Blain, Adam Wendler, Moira Smiley & Seamus Egan (with Sam Amidon), HuDost and Gabriel Campagne. We also include special tributes to outlaw country pioneers Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver who both sadly passed away recently. Remember, if you like what you hear on this show… don’t just stream the music – BUY the music and then you’ll really make a difference to artists income during this difficult time when it’s much more challenging to find live shows. Check out the full playlist below.
We’re pleased to bring you another one of our Covid Times interviews on Episode 547 of Folk Roots Radio. As you know, the coronavirus pandemic has completely upended the lives of people who make their living through music. This time around we catch up with zany singer-songwriter and humorist Steve Poltz to learn more about his life during these strange, strange times – while checking out a wonderful new lockdown single, appropriately entitled “Quarantine Blues”. As always, it’s a great conversation. We wrap up the episode with new music from Rick Fines, Rube & Rake, Clare Follett, Carmanah, Hamish Napier, Aoife Scott, Terra Lightfoot and Dione Taylor. If you like the music you hear on Folk Roots Radio, don’t just stream the music – BUY the music, and then you’ll really make a difference to artists income during a period when live shows are hard to find. Check out the full playlist below.
Yukon based folk-roots singer-songwriter Gordie Tentrees joins us on Episode 546 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about the life, music and legacy of Aylie Sparkes, a Manitoba born singer-songwriter who arrived in the Yukon in 2001 with a truck full of guitars and barely a penny to his name. Finding his community, Aylie Sparkes built such a fabulous reputation for his live performances and slide guitar play that he had people queuing around the block to get into his shows. Passing away from cancer in 2005 and close to his 39th birthday, Aylie Sparkes recorded only one full length album, the recently re-released “Beautiful & Deranged” from 2003 which was nominated for Blues Album of the Year at the 2004 Western Canadian Music Awards. Beautiful & Deranged is a truly awesome album, and this is a great interview. So, settle down and enjoy Gordie Tentrees in Conversation – a tribute to Aylie Sparkes, on Folk Roots Radio. Check out the full playlist below.
Singer-songwriter and humorist Steve Poltz is an absolutely fabulous live performer. There is just no two ways about it. See one show, you’ll become a fan for life – and like everyone else, you’ll be revelling in the power of being in the moment for a performance where anything can happen, and often does. Steve Poltz was born in Canada (Halifax NS) and raised in San Diego where he spent much of his life before he moved to Nashville in 2016. After a series of well-received albums, the release of “Shine On” in 2019 really started to move Steve’s career up to another level – and then COVID hit. As a touring artist, Steve works exceptionally hard and plays more than 150 dates a year across North America, Europe and Australia. To see all his 2020 plans evaporate almost overnight was disappointing to say the least. Steve Poltz joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about how he has been spending his time off the road, including the release of a wonderful new lockdown single, appropriately entitled “Quarantine Blues”. Watch the video version of this interview on our sister show the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions HERE. For more information about the music of Steve Poltz visit poltz.com. Music: Steve Poltz “Quarantine Blues” (single) (2020, 98 Pounder Records / Compass Records), “Ballin’ On A Wednesday” from “Shine On” (2019, 98 Pounder Records / Red House Records) and Hey God I’ll Trade You Donald Trump For Leonard Cohen (single) (2017, 98 Pounder Records)
We included a portion of our interview with Shaye Zadravec in Episode 523 of Folk Roots Radio. We’re now pleased to be able to bring you the full conversation. It’s definitely worth checking out. Enjoy!
Shaye Zadravec, a young vocalist from Calgary Alberta, has been creating quite a buzz for her ability to interpret other people’s songs. Shaye, who describes herself as a singer and only occasionally a songwriter, started out her career in dance before moving into musical theatre and then on to a full music career. Her first full-length album, “Now & Then”, features ten tracks, and includes fine versions of songs by Jay Farrar (Windfall), Jesse Winchester (Biloxi), Paul Westerberg (Skyway), Lawrence Russell Brown & Pat McLaughlin (The Whispering Wind), Lynn Miles (Night Drive), Roy Forbes (The Slider), Joan Besen (Did You Fall In Love With Me) and Ian Tyson (Summer’s Gone, Silver Bell) alongside a beautiful instrumental by (her producer) Goran Grini (East Longview Serenade) that uses samples from four songs on the album. Now & Then was recorded over five days at OCL Studios (just outside Calgary) and produced by Norwegian musician Goran Grini (who also plays some acoustic guitar / Wurlitzer piano) with support from Mike Lent (bass), Chris Nordquist (drums), Tim Leacock (guitars / mandolin), Russell Broom – guitars, Bruce Bouton (steel guitar), Denis Dufresne (fiddle) and Sydney Zadravec (background vocals). Shaye Zadravec’s first EP “Norway” (also produced by Goran Grini) is also worth checking out. It features an absolutely gorgeous cover of Chip Taylor’s “I’ll Carry For You” alongside spine-tingling versions of “Lilac Wine”, made famous by Nina Simone and Elkie Brooks and Cris Cuddy’s “Dear Elvis”, as well as an excellent version of Shelby Lynne’s “If I Were Smart”. Although Shaye Zadravec has not really been able to perform live since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, in the past she has opened shows for William Prince, Dan Mangan, David Francey, Chip Taylor, and pop opera sensations Il Divo. If you want to check out Shaye Zadravec’s live work, take a look at this fantastic performance of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “To Cry About” (with support from Tim Leacock) at the Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, Manitoba, in March 2019 while she was on the Il Divo tour. For more information about the music of Shaye Zadravec, visit shayezadravec.com. Music: Shaye Zadravec “Biloxi”, “Skyway”, “Summers Gone” and “Night Drive” from “Now & Then” (2020, Indelible Music) CDN.