Folk Roots Radio Episode 296: Banjofest Guelph Interview & More New Releases

We love the banjo on Folk Roots Radio which is a very good thing, as this edition has more than the usual amount included. We talk to Ian Molesworth about Banjofest – a one day festival taking place in Guelph in March and listen to some of the artists who will be taking part. We also check in on some of the artists who will be performing at the 10th annual Hillside Inside which takes place in Downtown Guelph from February 9-12. Among the new releases, we get to hear some great musical commentary about the recent political upheaval south of the border.

Banjofest Guelph sounds like the perfect day out for anyone who love’s banjo. Guelph’s first festival devoted to banjo music takes place at Silence, 46 Essex Street in Guelph on Saturday March 11 2017. The festival features a full day of banjo music, in all its glory. The afternoon Session (2-5:30 p.m.) features Buckwheat Honey, Lotus Wight, The BIG Schotts, and Chris Coole with Arnie Naiman, commemorating the recording of their album “5 Strings Attached With No Backing” (1997, Merriweather Records) 20 years ago. The evening session (8-11 p.m.) includes performances by The Banjo Mechanics featuring Ian Pattison and Lewis Melville, Tim Posgate with Andrew Downing and The Lonesome Ace Stringband. Tickets are $25 per session or $40 for both sessions (there are only 55 tickets available for each session) and can be purchased by emailing [email protected]. The event is co-sponsored by Woodall Music Acoustic Roots Music Instructional DVDs and Folkway Music. Organizer Ian Molesworth joined us to chat about the festival.

The Hillside Festival‘s winter indoor festival, Hillside Inside, takes place from February 9-12 in a variety of venues in Downtown Guelph. They’re celebrating ten years of winter programming, and, as usual, they’ve put together a wonderfully diverse programme of concerts, workshops and community activities that really does provide something for everyone. This year, for the first time, because of support from the Central Students Association at the University of Guelph and UC Programming, they’re expanding their programming into Thursday evening. Featured artists this year include Bros (the new project featuring Ewan and Shamus Currie from The Sheepdogs), live-wire troubadour singer-songwriter Steve Poltz sharing the bill with Sudbury Ontario’s Murder Murder, DJ Shub (formerly of A Tribe Called Red) with special guests Lido Pimienta and HEAT, and a Sunday Morning brunch with Begonia (from Chic Gamine). For more information on all the weekend activities, concerts, workshops and the Girls & Guitars storefront showcases (celebrating its fourth year) and to get tickets, visit

When Stephen Fearing wrote “Blowhard Nation” for his latest solo album “Every Soul’s A Sailor”, I don’t think he was seriously expecting you know who (I cannot mention his name) would be elected to one of the top jobs in the world. But shockingly it happened, and for that reason we felt a themed opening set was in order, starting off with Stephen’s great protest song.

Harp And A Monkey are electro-folk storytellers from Lancashire in Northern England. The band features Martin Purdy (vocals, glockenspiel, accordion, harmonica and keyboards), Simon Jones (harp, guitar, viola) and Andy Smith (banjo, melodica, guitar and programming) delight in weaving stories into their songs of life, love and remembrance. “The Postman’s Song” is from War Stories, their 2016 album commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

Ali McCormick comes from “The Lanark Highlands” just outside Ottawa and likes to go by “The Lanark Lioness”. On this episode we listened to the title track from her excellent new album “Clean Water”, produced by Brock Zeman. We also heard some new music from New Jersey singer-songwriter Loretta Hagen. Loretta is back in the studio working on songs for her next album. This week, we listened to a fine new demo “This World Of Ours”. We’re looking forward to more.

So there you are, four songs from some great recent releases that are loosely connected but I think you get the point. One of the least suitable people ever has been elected to one of the world’s top jobs. A demagogue and would be dictator he may be – but it is not all bad news. The land is still alive with the sound of great music so you can expect to hear some great new protest songs over the next four years… and let’s hope it’s just four years!

We wrapped the hour with two songs that speak to hope for a brighter future. Steve Poltz, star of last summer’s Hillside Festival (and coming back for Hillside Inside, see above) with the absolutely wonderful “I Want All My Friends To Be Happy” from his great 2015 album “Folksinger” and Christine Lavin with “We’ll Turn This Ship Around” – a song that definitely doesn’t need any further explanation.

Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have a lot of great music and interviews 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)

Stephen Fearing
Blowhard Nation
Every Soul’s A Sailor (2017, Lowdenproud) CDN

Harp And A Monkey
The Postman’s Song
War Stories (2016, Moonraker)

Ali McCormick
Clean Water
Clean Water (2016, Self) CDN

Loretta Hagen
This World Of Ours
(Single) (2016, Self)

Rant Maggie Rant
Mi’kmaq Enigma
Latitude (2016, Self) CDN

Manitoba Hal Brolund
Come On In My Kitchen
Manitoba Hal / Live In Ghent (2016, Hal’s Kitchen) CDN

Arnie Naiman and Chris Coole
Country Blues
5 Strings Attached With No Backing (1997, Merriweather Records) CDN

Interview: Ian Molesworth joins us to talk about Banjofest Guelph.

The Banjo Mechanics
Still Jiggin’ For Trout
JLP (2014, Self) CDN

The Lonesome Ace Stringband
Saro Jane
Gone For Evermore (2016, Self) CDN

Donna Lynn Caskey
Break Free
The Love Still Shows (2017, Cordulia)

Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches
I’m Gettin’ Married
Very Next Thing Ep (2016, On The Bol Records)

Murder Murder
Movin’ On
From The Stillhouse (2015, Self) CDN

Steve Poltz
I Want All My Friends To Be Happy
Folksinger (2015, 98 Pounder Records)

Christine Lavin
Turn This Ship Around
(Single) (2017, Self)

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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