Episode 285: Folk Music Ontario 2016

This edition of Folk Roots Radio is all about the 2016 Folk Music Ontario conference that recently took place in Ottawa. We play music from some of the great artists we saw play official showcases at the conference and chat with two of our favourite bands, The Young Novelists and The Bombadils.

I was fortunate to be asked to introduce the acts in two of the official showcases at this year’s Folk Music Ontario conference. It seemed only right, therefore, that I play music from some of the artists that impressed me in the showcases on this special edition of Folk Roots Radio. We started off with Alex Millaire and Kaitlin Milroy who make up the Ottawa band Moonfruits. They have a very original and arty take on folk-pop. We played “Au chant de l’alouette”, a song that will likely find its way on to their first French language album that is expected in 2017.

Harrow Fair are Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner. They recently released a great debut album of foot-stomping retro country, “Call To Arms”, on Miranda’s own label, Roaring Girl Records. They put on a wonderful official showcase – and they’re definitely worth catching on your travels next year. For just fiddle, dobro/acoustic guitar and vocals they put on a heck of a show! Check them out online at harrowfair.ca.

Next up we had The Unseen Strangers from Toronto who were also particularly impressive, and specialize in a mash-up of bluegrass and contemporary musical influences a and a good sense of humour. This week we listened to “Wicked Lover” from their third album “Stranger Places”. We also heard from singer/songwriter Kayla Luky from rural Grand View, Manitoba with “Comfort And Wrong” from her upcoming release of classic country “Back To Dirt”.

Maz, from Montreal, are another one of these wonderful Quebec bands taking traditional music to places new – and in this case, through their interest in modal jazz and electro, producing a wonderfully atmospheric and energetic, yet also quite clearly Trad. Quebecois, sound. This time round, we played the title track from their latest “Chasse-Galerie” (2013, Bleu44) however they have a new album scheduled for 2017.

The Young Novelists, are a six piece folk-roots band when playing close to their Toronto home, but pretty much everywhere else they’re stripped down to their essence, a finely tuned harmonizing duo featuring the band’s principal songwriter Graydon James on guitar/vocals and his wife Laura Spink on percussion/vocals. The Young Novelists have had a fabulous year in 2016. 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. A fixture on the Canadian scene, The Young Novelists are now touring into the United States. Graydon and Laura sat down with us at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about their music, travels, and future plans.

The Bombadils produced some big news in 2016, announcing that they’re now a two piece featuring Sarah Frank (fiddle, banjo, vocals) and Luke Fraser (guitar, mandolin, vocals) after bassist Alan Mackie and flautist Anh Phung moved on to new projects. The newly slimmed down Bombadils released their first album as a duo, “New Shoes” on Borealis Records earlier this year. The Bombadils now perform live as a duo, or in larger settings, with cello or bass. Sarah and Luke sat down with us at FMO to chat about the changes in the band and the release of the new album.

We wrapped the hour with some francophone pop-folk from Manitoba’s Jocelyne Baribeau followed by Peter McMurtry and his band Ptarmigan from Peterborough ON who play what they describe as alt. folk – although based on their brilliant official showcase, and the amount of myth, metaphor and modern sonic landscapes on offer, I’d be comfortable calling them prog folk. And pretty good they are too – their just-released self-titled album is well-worth checking out.

And that’s all we have time for this time around. You can check out the full playlist with artist links below. Please share your love for all the great folk and roots music out there.

Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have a lot of great music to bring you on future shows. I hope you’ll join us!

You can listen to this episode again on Mixcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (expected 2016)

Au chant de l’alouette
(Sampler) (2016, Self) CDN

Harrow Fair
Told A Lie To My Heart
Call To Arms (2016, Roaring Girl Records) CDN

The Unseen Strangers
Wicked Lover
Stranger Places (2016, Self) CDN

Kayla Luky
Comfort And Wrong
Back To Dirt (2016, Self) CDN

Chasse-Galerie (2013, Bleu44) CDN

The Young Novelists
Always Make The Mistake
Made Us Strangers (2015, Self) CDN

Interview: Graydon James and Laura Spink from the The Young Novelists join us to chat about their music at the Folk Music Ontario conference.

The Young Novelists
Hear Your Voice
Made Us Strangers (2015, Self) CDN

Interview: Luke Fraser and Sarah Frank from The Bombadils join us to chat about their music at the Folk Music Ontario conference.

The Bombadils
Train In The Night
New Shoes (2016, Borealis Records) CDN

Jocelyne Baribeau
Pauvre lune
Entre toi et moi (2015, Self) CDN

A Magician Of Sorts
Ptarmigan (2016, Self) CDN

About the author


Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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