We’re holding back the interviews on Episode 508 of Folk Roots Radio as we bring you another hour of great new releases. We may all be continuing to self-isolate in the midst of the on-going Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, but artists are still producing fabulous music. So settle down and enjoy songs from Parkland, Heather Styka, Andrea Ramolo, Jesse Cook, Stuart Markus, Grae J Wall, Michael Logen, Tara Thompson, Rachael Sage, Sara Thomsen, Lara Herscovitch, Deborah Holland, Julian Taylor, Alex Lauzière and Erik Balkey. Stay safe and well everyone. We will get through this… together and apart. Check out the full playlist below.
We started off the hour with three more songs from the In Basements: In Isolation mixtape series – which for the artists concerned, while not quite the same as getting together in person to share new songs, is the perfect way to safely share your music while self-isolating.
This time around we included two songs from the recently released Volume 2. Rob Malowany, from Vancouver, who makes music under the moniker Parkland, joined us with the excellent “Throw Me A Line”, and we followed that with Chicago based Heather Styka with the beautiful “Wash Your Face”. We wrapped up the set with another track from Volume 1, Andrea Ramolo with the lovely song “Thank You For The Ride (Revisited)”, a reworking of the title track from Andrea’s very first album. A song of gratitude, Andrea always wanted to re-record it, and now, it’s her first production – recorded in the back room of her apartment.
You can find Volume 1 and 2 of In Basements: In Isolation on Bandcamp, and, remember, all proceeds from the sale of the albums go to the artists concerned to help make up for lost earnings during this time of social distancing.
If you want to help artists during this difficult time, when they can’t perform in public, don’t just stream their music – BUY it! I know they’ll really appreciate it.
Jesse Cook was supposed to be on tour at this time, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his first album “Tempest” but instead like the rest of us, he’s at home, waiting for the pandemic emergency to pass.
Feeling at a bit of a loose end, Jesse decided it might be fun to re-record the song while self-isolating.
“I wanted to see – have I changed as a musician? Or as a producer? Oddly enough, the process seemed familiar. The original was also created by me, alone at my house, playing all the instruments. 25 years ago, I couldn’t afford to hire musicians. This time around, I’m alone because of social distancing. For the filming, I had the help of my 12 year-old daughter. She wisely wishes to remain anonymous, so I didn’t include her name in the credits, but I wanted to acknowledge her great camera work. I’m incredibly proud of her!”
“Old Friends”, the new album by Long Island’s Gathering Time is about 90% complete. Stuart Markus from the band got in touch to let us know that he’s written a new song “Cold Gray Spring” during his time in lockdown.
“I took a breath and observed how the alternately chilly and dreary weather we’ve been having in the NYC/Long Island area matching the mood, as the losses due to Covid-19 sink in. At this point, pretty much everyone here knows someone who has lost a close friend or family member to the disease, if they haven’t lost one themselves; and that’s not to mention the losses to the community like John Prine and Gene Shay. “
Grae J Wall, from the UK, is new to our radar. Finding himself furloughed due to the Coronavirus lockdown and unable to get together with his musical compadres he decamped to his wife’s summer house at the bottom of the garden and set about recording a few songs and poems. His new album is entitled “mouseclubvirusblues” and you can find it available for sale (name your price) on Bandcamp.
“I’d been wanting to do something that mixed together these two sides of what I do for a while and this is the results. The recording technique is very lo-fi – just one mic and recorded straight down to one track. I liked the idea of it being a bit field-recording style only instead of a field I had a garden and instead of a wax cylinder I had an MP3 recorder. In keeping with this it’s a pretty bluesy collection and you might detect a little influence from the likes of Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams and of course Woody Guthrie. I’m sure some of these tunes will re-emerge as band versions and there may be more songs from the summerhouse to come!”
Michael Logen‘s “When You Can’t Hold Someone” is another song written while in self-isolation.
“It’s so strange to be separated from each other at a time like this. I’ve been deeply moved by images of people holding up signs outside hospital windows to let their loved ones know they’re still with them. I finished writing this for those of us (and I think it’s all of us), who have people out there in the world they can’t be with right now due to quarantine, that they’re concerned about. There will be many wonderful reunions when this is all over. This is for all of us.”
Tara Thompson‘s new single “My Dogs Are Home” is from her forthcoming debut album “Circus”; a reflection of her years navigating the ups and downs of the music industry in Nashville. The song was written with a girl’s best friends in mind… her dogs, and a bottle of wine – and the fact that they may be your only company during your time in isolation.
Rachael Sage has a new song cycle collection out entitled “Character” which gives her an opportunity to explore authenticity, gratitude, compassion and optimism. The song we included on this episode, “Bravery’s On Fire”, was written shortly after a diagnosis of uterine cancer. Having now made a full recovery, Rachael has committed herself to staying healthy and with a renewed sense of purpose – creating music that reflects on its power as a healing tool. The CD version of this album is beautifully packaged and comes with a second disc of acoustic re-workings of songs from the original album. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Sara Thomsen, a songwriter from Minnesota, is a staunch supporter of struggles for human dignity and ecological sustainability. On this episode we used her beautiful song “Water Is Life” from her new album “Song Like a Seed” (2019, Harmony Works) to reflect on Earth Day (April 22) and the deep connection we have to each other and the environment that surrounds us.
The songwriting of Lara Herscovitch has been described as music for the heart and soul. Lara reached out to us this week to let us know that she has a new album out, “Highway Philosophers”. On this episode we play the wonderful “Shine Sister Shine” – which turned out to be the perfect compliment to Deborah Holland‘s uplifting “The Sun Is Out” from her new E.P. “Fine, Thank You!”. The Sun Is Out is all about making it through another winter, and dare I say it, it could also be a song to help us look forward to the end of this pandemic. The sun will come out again when we get through this crisis.
Julian Taylor is getting set to release a new Americana tinged solo album “The Ridge”. The eight-song album was originally scheduled for a fall release date, but Julian decided to bring the release date forward in the hope that his songs might bring joy to listeners in troubled times.
“I’d really like the heart of this record and the stories to connect with people. These are letters to members of my family. It’s something that everyone has – family (whether chosen or not) and memories.”
The first single from the new album, the title track, reflects on how life has changed since his grandparents days in Maple Ridge BC, and the innocence that has been lost in a world that feels more and more divided.
Alex Lauzière is a young singer-songwriter from Windsor ON who has just released his first three song E.P. Congratulations, Alex!
We wrapped the episode with another song by the late great John Prine, tragically taken from us by the Covid-19 virus. It’s still hard to believe that he is gone. This time around we play a great cover by Erik Balkey of a fine song, “All The Best” which originally appeared on John’s 1991 album “The Missing Years”.
That’s all we have time for. 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 episodes.
If you enjoy the music we play on this show and want to support the artists – many of whom aren’t able to play live at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic, don’t just stream their music – that earns them much less than a penny per play. Instead, buy their music – and really make a difference to their income. They’ll love you for it!
Stay safe and well everyone! We’ll get through this… together and apart.
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 Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)
Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)
Tempest 25 (Demo)
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Grae J. Wall
mouseclubvirusblues (2020, Self)
When You Can’t Hold Someone
(single) (2020, Back Room Racket)
My Dogs Are Home
(single) (2020, Self)
Bravery’s On Fire
Character (2020, Mpress Records)
Water is Life
Song Like a Seed (2019, Harmony Works)
Shine Sister Shine
Highway Philosophers (2020, Self)
The Sun Is Out
Fine, Thank You! (2020, Rage On Records) CDN
The Ridge (2020, Howling Turtle Inc.) CDN
Let It All Go
Alex Lauzière (2020, Self) CDN
All The Best
For The Ladies, The Covers (2010, Hudson Harding Music)