Shawn William Clarke may be one of Toronto’s best kept secrets. After spending time as a sideman for Timber Timbre and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, he is now forging his own solo career. As much a storyteller as a singer-songwriter, Shawn strives to make the subject matter for his songs as important as the beautiful melodies that accompany his well-crafted lyrics. His first solo album, 2010’s “Like Birds Too Tired To Fly” was very well-received. He is just about to release his latest album “William”, produced by James Bunton. We reached him at home in Toronto this week. For more information visit shawnclarkemusic.com. Music: Shawn William Clarke “Ten Years Ago”, “In Conversation” & “I Blame The Loyalist Ghost” from “William” (2014, Self).
Tannis Slimmon, Jude Vadala and Katherine Wheatley come together each Christmas to put on a series of concerts “Songs For The Snowy Season” in collaboration with Folkway Music. This year’s Guelph show (the 8th edition of this holiday tradition) takes place at Guelph Little Theatre, 176 Morris St, Guelph on Saturday, December 6 at 8:30 p.m. (Doors, 8:00 p.m.). This year, the performance will be that little bit more special as they are also releasing their first album under their new group name Boreal, “Winter’s Welcome”. Tickets $22.60 (includes HST) / $25 at the door and available from Folkway Music by phone at 1-855-772-0424, email or in person (22 Dupont Street East, Waterloo); The Bookshelf (41 Quebec Street, Guelph) and online through Event Brite HERE. Tannis, Jude and Katherine joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the new album and upcoming Christmas shows. For more information about Boreal, visit borealsongs.ca.
Toronto-based blues, roots and gospel singer Samantha Martin will be playing the Toronto Blues Society‘s 28th Annual Women’s Blues Revue taking place at Massey Hall in Toronto on Saturday November 22. She is currently applying the finishing touches to her as yet untitled new long player with her band Delta Sugar; a release that’s expected early next year. Because of her strong stage presence and powerhouse vocals, Samantha Martin is very much a once seen, never forgotten live experience. That she writes fabulous songs and sings like she grew up along the Mississippi Delta just adds to the mystique. We caught up with her at the recent Folk Music Ontario conference for a feature-length conversation and impromptu session. Music: Samantha Martin, “Mississippi Sun” from “Mississippi Sun” EP (2014, Dollartone Records), “When You Walk Away” (Live), “Give Me Your Mercy” (Live)”, “Addicted” (Live) and “One More Day” from “Mississippi Sun” (2014, Dollartone Records).
Kitchener-based singer-songwriter Luke Michielsen is just about to release his new album “Oh Surround Me”. Luke joined us in the studio for Folk Roots Radio Overtime on November 15 2014. Sounding at times like REM’s Michael Stipe with songs that have the feel of artists as diverse as Carbon Leaf, Doug Paisley, Hayden and Neil Young, he’s definitely worth checking out. Oh Surround Me was produced by Michael Langford in Toronto. Luke’s Kitchener CD release is at The Boathouse on December 13. He’ll also be in Guelph on December 12 for a pre-release show at Van Gogh’s. Music: Luke Michielson, “For You” from “Oh Surround Me” (2014, Self), “Every Time I Come Home” (Live), “Derrida Says” (Live), “Wanderer” (Live), “Pine Needles” (Live) and “Hypothermia” from “Oh Surround Me” (2014, Self).
Niagara based Shore Thing will be in Guelph on Saturday November 15 2014 for a show at The Cornerstone . They have just released their E.P. “Outside Voices” recorded at Yummy Recordings in St. Catharines. Shore Thing are Jordan Nicolaides on guitar, Wilson Hadfield on guitar, Ben Goerzen on cello and Jarod Cardas on percussion. Their music transcends folk, soul, funk and indie… they describe it as ‘funky’as’folk’! At The Cornerstone they will be joined by The Sweet Experience and Emily & The Mainlanders. The show starts at 9 p.m., and it’s a pay what you can event. For more information visit shorethingtunes.com. We caught up with Jordan Nicolaides in Toronto.
London-based singer/songwriter Carly Thomas and her band will be making their Guelph debut at Van Gogh’s Ear on Saturday, November 22 . The show starts at 9 p.m., and also features local band Let’s Just Be Friends. Carly has just released her new E.P. “Explode” recorded at London’s Sonic Zen Studios by Michael “Musashi” Marucci. We reached her at home in London. Music: Carly Thomas, “Lightning Bolts” and “Explode” from “Explode EP” (2014, Self).
The Hello Strangers are sisters Larissa Chace-Smith and Brechyn Chace. They come from rural Pennsylvania and write wonderful roots songs with an earthy Appalachian feel and fabulous harmonies that can chill you to the bone. They describe their music as original Pennsyltucky Fried Sister Folk which is a fair approximation of how ‘it’ makes you feel. These girls have it, in spades. Their first full-length, self-titled album is already among our favourite albums of 2014. We caught up with them at home in Pennsylvania. Photo: Ryan Smith Photography. Music: The Hello Strangers, “The World Knows Far Better”, “What It Takes To Break A Heart” and “Runaway” from “The Hello Strangers” (2014, IMI)
Joanna Chapman-Smith may be based in Toronto, but with familial roots in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Italy and Brazil, and a touring schedule that has taken her across the world she has a diversity of life experience that not only comes through in her body of recorded work but also points towards an exciting and very creative future. Her most recent album “Love Me Deeply” only came out in 2013, however she is already preparing to head back into the studio to record a folk-tale album with Ken Whiteley in the producer’s chair. As well her own career as a singer-songwriter, Joanna is also the founder of Songbirds Travelling Music School, which delivers music, vocal and creative workshops into far-flung under-supported communities of Canada. We caught up with her at the recent Folk Music Ontario conference. Music: “Pick Me Up” (Live), “Cry For The Departed” (Live), “Goose Girl” (Live), “Melodies” (Live), “Paris” from “Love Me Deeply” (2013, Wound Up Records).
In this audio documentary we step inside the Youth Program at the 2014 Folk Music Ontario (FMO) Conference. The program is open to residents of Ontario and the National Capital Region, between ages 15 and 21, who are chosen for their interest, ability and experience. The selected youth members are paired with experienced mentors from the Ontario folk music community for the duration of the weekend conference, while developing a showcase performance and participating in professional development activities. The documentary features commentary and musical contributions from programme coordinator Treasa Levasseur, mentors David Newland, Melanie Brulée, Drew Gonsalves, Tannis Slimmon and Brian Kobayakawa; as well as youth members Jazmine Wykes, Campbell Woods, Martine Fortin, Annie Sumi and Benjamin Rogers. For more information on the Folk Music Ontario Youth Program visit folkmusicontario.ca. Photo credit: Mike Bourgeault. Music: Treasa Levasseur “Shine Your Light” from “The Memphis Sessions” (2013, Self), David Newland “I Saw the Light” from “Give It A Whirl” (2012, Self), Melanie Brulée “Wonder” from “Sucré/Salé” (2012, Self), Kobo Town (Drew Gonsalves) “Mr. Monday” from “Jumbie In The Jukebox” (2012, Cumbancha), Tannis Slimmon “Do What You Do” from “In & Out Of Harmony” (2013, Self), Brian Kobayakawa “Indeed Indeed” (Demo), Jazmine Wykes “Laura’s Song” (Demo), Campbell Woods “Mad Trapper” (Demo), Martine Fortin “Qui est c’est fille?” (Demo), Annie Sumi “Life Like That” (Demo), Benjamin Rogers “Wayfarer” & “Pendulum” from “Wayfarer” (2014, Self).
Fish & Bird are a five piece alt. folk – roots band, featuring songwriter Taylor Ashton (vocals, banjo), Adam Iredale-Gray (fiddle, vocals), Ryan Boeur (electric and acoustic guitars), Ben Kelly (drums) and Zoe Guigueno (upright bass, vocals). They will be in Guelph for a Folk Roots Radio promoted CD launch for “Something In The Ether” at Silence, 46 Essex St on Wednesday November 12 2014. The support act will be Guelph’s own Tannis Slimmon. I had the privilege of introducing Fish & Bird at the Kingsville Folk Music Festival this summer, and they put on a fabulous show. Their performance at Kingsville was especially memorable in that they earned, that rare distinction, a festival main stage encore. The Silence show starts at 8 p.m. (doors 7:30 p.m.) Tickets four the Guelph show are $20 in advance ($25 at the door). Advanced tickets may be purchased online from Ticket Scene here. Silence is a fully accessible concert venue. We caught up with Taylor Ashton earlier this week. Music: Fish & Band, “Something In The Ether” , “Lost” and “Go-To-Bed Light” from “Something In The Ether” (2014, Fiddle Head Records).
Cambridge Live Music (ClM) are a group of music lovers passionate about the local live music scene in Cambridge, Ontario. Their mission is simple – to raise awareness of the incredibly talented artists who perform live music, of any genre, within their own “Music City” – Cambridge!. CLM publishes a free Live Music calendar on their website at cambridgelivemusic.com as well as via the monthly Live Music poster displayed in almost every local live music venue, as well as select local businesses. Ted Ferris from CLM joined us in the studio to chat about this important local music awareness project. Music: Jesse Parent, “Good To You” from “Good To You” EP (2009, Self); Dan Walsh, “Stayin’ Low” from “Outta The Jam” (2013, Self)
The MacKenzie Blues Band are one of the hottest bands out of Owen Sound. Featuring the powerhouse vocals of Tara MacKenzie alongside the guitar of Trevor MacKenzie with Joel Dawson on bass and Mike Weir on drums they were voted best new artist or group at the 2014 Maple Blues Awards. They released their sophomore album, “Slam! Bam!”, an album of dark and spiritual but ultimately uplifting blues earlier this year. We caught up with band members Tara MacKenzie, Trevor MacKenzie and Mike Weir at the Folk Music Ontario conference for a feature length conversation. Photo: Jason Ruznak. Music: MacKenzie Blues Band – “Down With Love (Slam! Bam!)”, “Move On”, “Bone Cage”, “Spiritual Power” and “Higher Road” from “Slam! Bam!” (2014, Self)
David Sereda is a singer, songwriter, actor, pianist, composer, voice coach, producer and educator. He has written musicals, released CDs, and performed at many music festivals across Canada. And, he was one of the first openly gay recording artists in Canada, with his first release, “Chivalry Lives” coming out in 1981. His last CD, “The Blue Guide” (re-released in 1996) looked at love and loss, and the journey of a relationship from infatuation to devotion to the death of the beloved. His upcoming album, “Boyfriend”, is a collection of songs about finding a way to love, and live after a world-shaking loss. David will be playing a show in Guelph on Friday October 24 at Magnolia Café with Tyler Wagler on double bass, who will also perform an opening set. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15 at the door. Magnolia Café is a licensed cafe and restaurant that also doubles as one of the area’s most intimate listening venues. Because of the size of the venue, reservations are highly recommendeded especially if you’d like to enjoy a meal before the show! We caught up with David at home in Port Dalhousie. Music: David Sereda, “Beyond The Shadow” (single), David Sereda & Echo Women’s Choir, “When The Tide Goes Out” (Live Demo) and David Sereda, “Beyoutiful” (Demo)
Shane Jacob Philips releases his excellent new album, “Social Justice & Peace” with a show at The Cornerstone, Guelph on November 8 at 9 p.m. Social Justice and Peace features seven songs with a social conscience intended to provoke the listener to question the current direction we are moving in. As a committed social activist, Philips walks the talk, even if that means walking 102 km straight over 29 hours to deliver a message about water issues to the Ontario Minister of the Environment. Featuring Shane Philips trademark soulful vocals within laid-back folk-style arrangements that allow the lyrics to breath, it is not just a great album but also one where the lyrics deserve closer scrutiny. Music: Shane Jacob Philips, “Freedom” from “Social Justice & Peace” (2014, Self).
Nicole Ensing is a Guelph Ontario-based pianist and vocalist. Classically-trained, in recent years she has also developed her folk side as pianist in the Celtic band The Wild Oats. Along with her love of jazz and pop, this combination of influences yields an appealing knack for catchy, well-crafted keyboard lines that draw freely on jazz stylings and folk charm. Nicole has just released her debut album based on the poetry of G.K. Chesterton “Riddles and Creeds” on Chanter Records. Backing Nicole are Sam Fitzpatrick on upright and electric bass, Brian Bork on guitar and Joel Sypkes on drums. On Riddles and Creeds, Nicole and producer Ross McKitrick have taken some of the vivid poems of English writer and poet G.K. Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) , a formative influence on both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and created songs that explore themes of the magic of life, spiritual search, and friendship. The Riddles and Creeds CD release takes place on Sunday November 2 at The Albion (Upstairs) 49 Norfolk St, Guelph at 7:30 p.m., cover $10 at the door. Nicole Ensing and Ross McKitrick joined us in the studio for a feature length conversation about the new album. Music: Nicole Ensing Band, “Child Of The Snows”, “A Second Childhood”, “The Aristocrat”, “The Great Minimum” and “The Rolling English Road” from “Riddles & Creeds” (2014, Chanter Records)
For over a decade Tyler Wagler has been a coveted sideman in Canadian folk, roots, reggae and rock music. He has been busy playing guitar, bass and mandolin with artists such as The Human Rights, David Sereda, Friendly Rich and The Lollipop People and many more. Since relocating to Guelph from Toronto, Wagler has performed with such prominent locals as Bry Webb, Tannis Slimmon, Alysha Brilla and Jessy Bell-Smith, as well as releasing two solo EPs and a full length disc with modern jazz trio Hammerton/Wagler/O’Neill. His latest EP, “4 Songs”, is an intimate, stripped down affair, framed by warm double bass, a creaking upright piano and contributions from some of the finest musicians in the folk and indie communities. Tyler Wagler will be appearing at Magnolia Café, 88 Yarmouth Street Guelph with David Sereda on Friday October 24. Tyler Wagler joined us in the studio to chat about his music. Music; Jessy Bell-Smith, “Deep Water” from The “Town” (2014, Self); Tyler Wagler, “Rooster” from “4 Songs EP” (2014, Self); Tyler Wagler, “Lines Written In Early Spring” from “Tyler Wagler EP” (2011, Self); David Sereda, “Beyond The Shadow” (Single) (2013, Self); Tyler Wagler, “Blazing Waters” from “4 Songs EP” (2014, Self); Tyler Wagler, “Enemy” from “4 Songs EP” (2014, Self)
If you like your Americana rough around the edges you’ll love Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson‘s new roots album “River Of Sand”. River Of Sand, produced by fellow singer-songwriter Lynn Miles, was four years in the making, and contains some very personal songs, that speak to the challenges we all face on this road called life. As a live artist, Lynne Hanson has been gaining rave reviews for her polished performances whether playing solo or with her band The Good Intentions. We caught up with Lynne at home in Ottawa. Music: Lynne Hanson, “River of Sand”, “Heaven and Hell” and “Trading in my Lonesome” from “River of Sand” (Continental Sound City, 2014)
“If the Carter Family, Robbie Robertson and Alfred Hitchcock had written songs together, they might sound like this.” That’s how L.A. based Ernest Troost introduces himself in concert. What makes him so remarkable is that he’s a late arrival on the folk scene. After studying jazz guitar and classical music at Berklee College of Music, Ernest built a career as an award-winning TV and Film composer in Hollywood, working on the cult classic Tremors, HBO’s A Lesson Before Dying, many Hallmark Hall of Fame specials and, more recently, the Campbell Scott indie film Crashing, which features the title track from Troost’s album “All the Boats Are Gonna Rise”. Along the way he composed, arranged and produced two albums of lullabies for Judy Collins. Ernest started making a name for himself as a singer-songwriter when he picked up the guitar in 2004; and in 2009 he was named a New Folk Winner at the famed Kerrville Folk Festival. His latest album, “O Love”, is already creating quite a buzz within the folk community. An album of real Americana, it features widescreen story songs alongside beautiful and heartfelt love songs. Showcasing a variety of styles from Piedmont blues through waltzes and the odd bit of rock n’roll, O Love is an album that will surely feature in many people’s best of the year. We tracked him down for an interview, at home in California. Music: Ernest Troost, “Old Screen Door”, “Harlan County Boys” and “The Last Lullaby” from “O Love”. (Travelling Shoes Records, 2014)
Cambridge ON based three piece folk/rock alternative band Factory City have a CD release on Saturday September 27 at The Burns Howff Scottish Pub, 95 Saginaw pkwy, Cambridge. The cover is $5 or free with CD purchase! Factory City have been together since 2013, although all of members are stalwarts of the local scene. They feature guitarist/vocalist Mike Meacher, Fyl Bennett on stand-up bass and drummer Mat Bowman. Stylistically they describe their music as blurring the lines between folk music and rock alternative with songs that tell stories of love, tragedy, grief and hope. For more information visit factorymusic.com. Music: Factory City, For You from Factory City (2014, Self)
Fearing & White are back on tour in Ontario and Alberta. Stephen Fearing & Andy White released their second album as a duo, “Tea & Confidences” earlier this year. We caught up with Andy White prior to their barnstorming appearance at the 2014 Hillside Festival. You can check out that interview on the website HERE. As it seemed only fair that we check in with the other half of this pair of wandering minstrels, we caught up with Stephen Fearing at home while on a short touring break. During our fun and wide-ranging conversation we tackled such topics as balancing solo and band commitments, recording and touring “Tea & Confidences”, why Gary Craig is such a great drummer, music as a business for independent artists 101 and the ‘Manzer guitar / Air Canada incident’. It’s a great interview and well worth checking out. Music: Fearing & White, “Emigrant Song”, “Tomorrow Takes A Long Time”, “We Came Together” and “To The Great Unknown” from “Tea & Confidences” (2014, Lowdenproud).