Folk Roots Radio Episode 380: The Lifers & New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 380: The Lifers & New Releases

We’re taking a distinctly female musical perspective on Episode 380 of Folk Roots Radio as we chat to Liv and Anita Cazzola from Guelph’s The Lifers about their sophomore release “Honey Suite”. Liv and Anita have been delighting listening audiences across Canada since there release of their first E.P. “Set the Sails” (2014) and their first long player “Out & In” (2016), although our relationship with them goes back to their first band as a duo, Detour. It’s a great interview – well worth sticking around for. We also check out more new music from female performers including new releases from Doris Folkens, Alicia Toner and Ali McCormick and Carly Thomas. Check out the full playlist below.


The Lifers feature the intertwined and, at times, ethereal voices of Liv and Anita Cazzola and an accompaniment that may start out quietly with softly plucked strings or an accordion swell before giving way to rip-roaring drums and soaring melodies. As songwriters, their stories juxtapose tenderness and explosive energy, sometimes within a single breath while exploring notions of home, family and community, and highlighting the beauty, vulnerability and power of nature. Their sophomore album “Honey Suite” is more personal than ever, reflecting on the fragility of life and our world, and touching on themes of place, sisterhood, mental health, and the environment. We caught up with Liv and Anita Cazzola at home in Guelph to chat about the new album.

The Lifers will be touring the new album across Canada, the US and Europe this year – in Ontario with their thunderous six-piece band, and abroad with their collaborative project, alongside their Sisterhood of Sound tour with Guelph based singer-songwriter Annie Sumi. The Guelph CD Release show for “Honey Suite” takes place at Royal City Church on Wednesday May 16th with support from Annie Sumi. GET TICKETS. For information about all The Lifers shows, visit

Show Notes

Notes about some of the new music on our radar that made it into Episode 380 of Folk Roots Radio.

London ON singer-songwriter Carly Thomas has a new album out, “Versions”, a collection of original songs revisited. The new album was recorded at Second Records in St Thomas, with Denis Gauthier. Carly Thomas took home Contemporary Singer Songwriter at the 2018 Jack Richardson London Music Awards.

“I’ve been touring with all of these songs across Canada and beyond for the past few years, and they always seem to grow as I grow, and move with me through all the experiences that this life has offered me. Some of them take me back to moments I had when I was first writing them, when they were just sprinkles of ideas, dancing around in my mind. All of them stir up emotions for me still, of places I have been, and people that I have shared time with along the way. I wanted to capture an intimate version of these songs, as if I was playing them in front of the fireplace, and experiencing the beauty of where they have ended up, and where they came from.”

Guelph storytelling singer-songwriter Doris Folkens is getting ready to release her self-titled debut which was produced by mando-maestro Andrew Collins. We just taped an interview with Doris Folkens which you can find on the website HERE. The Doris Folkens CD release show will take place in Guelph at The Common on Saturday May 26 2018 at 7 p.m. For more information about the music of Doris Folkens, visit

Alyssa Sequoia’s “What Color Iz My Skin” is a song that came out of an improvisational jam at a studio in Manhattan (NYC). The comedian and singer-songwriter already had some lyrics for the song that reflected on a challenging health problem that meant she had to learn to walk again.

“The first verse of the song came while I was walking in the woods, my sanctuary – the lyrics felt literal – ‘food can’t fill the place inside where unused gifts lay waiting’. ‘I pick up the pieces and learn to walk again….’ is me gathering my self and putting one foot in front off the other even if its only a visual at first. I’ve struggled with an autoimmune disorder in my life that at times has left me completely bed bound…”

“What Color Iz my Skin” was done in one take – just totally spontaneous freestyle. I honestly didn’t think much of it – my manager found it in the trash, played it and loved it – it was his love and belief in the song that gave it a chance to be heard.”

New Brunswick’s Alicia Toner started out in musical theatre, before deciding to add the titles ‘recording artist’ and ‘songwriter’ to her repertoire with the release of her debut full-length album, “I Learned The Hard Way”.

“With theatre I get to escape and be someone else. With music, it’s just me. And it’s me singing words I have written. It’s much more personal. Theatre requires you to create someone else’s vision but being a songwriter and performing my own songs is so very, very intimate. You are really putting yourself out there, and it can be very scary, but its also a much more rewarding experience.”

The title track was written by Canadian artists Donovan Woods and Stephanie Cadman, which according to Toner set the tone for the rest of the album.

“The overall feel of that song, and how I sort of constructed the album, was about getting through tough times. I am not old by any means, but I am also not 20. I have lived a little, I’ve been through it and I have learned many things the hard way. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Stephanie Cadman introduced Toner to producer Stuart Cameron (from The Heartbroken), son of legendary Maritime musician/songwriter John Allan Cameron, who did much of the production on the album.

“It was amazing working with Stuart, as well as with Peter Fusco [also of The Heartbroken] who also produced the album. It was such a comfortable experience working with them. They were so receptive to my sometimes jum- bled thoughts and encouraged me to go in directions I didn’t know I wanted to go at the time. They helped me make an album that I am so proud of.”

The ‘Lioness of Lanark County’, Ali McCormick has just released her third album “That Place I Know”, her most personal album to date and the follow-up to 2016’s very well received “Clean Water”. The new album is full of road-tested songs that are rooted in stories from her life and experiences and featuring a cast of colourful characters.

A true wilderness wordsmith, Ali McCormick grew up off grid, on a small holding where her family grew their own vegetables, and tended livestock. A rugged life – certainly, with its own fair share of hardship, but there were also the spring melts, maple syrup runs and sunlit days spent chasing deer out of the garden with an old hound dog. For Ali, there was the guitar too.

“Our family was big on frequent, long, drawn out visits,” recalls Ali. “Amidst heated family discussions fueled by boisterous tea and coffee drinking, the guitars would inevitably come out.” It was a golden day when she was given one of her very own, a cherry-topped parlour model.”

Music fueled her dreams, which lead to her heading to the big city in her late teens, with her guitar in hand. Ali describes her songwriting style like her life – a patchwork quilt of personality, rural upbringing and a desire for the open road.

“I’ve been known to park the car half-way up a driveway and stop everything to hammer out a song. I love bringing a song, be it a story or a feeling, to people. If a song has made someone think of something they want to change about themselves, or helped them remember someone they love then I’m in my happy place.”

Visit Ali McCormick online at

And that’s all we have time for, this time around. 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 Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via iTunes, 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 (Pre-release, self)

Carly Thomas
Versions (2017, Self) CDN

Doris Folkens
Uncle Jimmy
Doris Folkens (2018, Self) CDN

Alyssa Sequoia
What Color Iz My Skin
(single) (2017, Self)

Alicia Toner
I Learned The Hard Way
I Learned The Hard Way (2017, Self) CDN

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita
Soar (2018, bendigedig)

The Lifers
Honey Suite (2018, Self) CDN

Interview: Liv & Anita Cazzola from The Lifers discussing their sophomore album “Honey Suite”.

The Lifers
New Eyes
Honey Suite (2018, Self) CDN

The Lifers
Front Door
Honey Suite (2018, Self) CDN

Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Wanna Be Your Lover
Run To Me (2018, Gypsy Soul Records / Fontana North) CDN

Crystal Shawanda
I’ll Always Love You
Voodoo Woman (2018, New Sun Records / Fontana North) CDN

Ali McCormick
All I Feel
The Place You Know (2018, 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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