Folk Roots Radio Episode 513: We’re All About The Music! (Social Distancing Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 513: We're All About The Music! (Social Distancing Edition)

We’re holding back the interviews on Episode 513 of Folk Roots Radio as we bring you another hour of great new music. We’re including more Covid-19 tunes and songs from isolation alongside some great new releases. Live performances may have been curtailed by the current crisis, but the new music just keeps on coming. Join us for great new songs from Big Little Lions, Sofia Talvik, Stan Simon, Liona Boyd, Westward The Light, Sherman Downey, Kristen Martell, 100 Mile House, Peter Rowan & Don Edwards, The Hello Darlins, Christina Hutt, Elles Bailey, Danny Schmidt and Noah Reid. Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

Helen Austin and Paul Otten make music together as Big Little Lions. Like many artists, Big Little Lions were out on tour when the pandemic hit. In their case, they were touring their latest release “Inside Voice”. You can check out a great interview with Helen and Paul discussing their most recent album HERE.

Although Helen and Paul have no idea when they will be able to play music together again or, indeed, when they will even see each other (as Helen lives on Vancouver Island, and Paul in Cincinnati OH), they’re still writing songs together. They’ve just released a new song, a hopeful little Covid-19 number appropriately entitled “Need One Another”. And yes, we definitely do…

Swedish Americana singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik wrote “Broken (…Steel Guitars in Heaven)” as a tribute to her close friend and pedal steel guitarist Tim Fleming, who played on many of her recordings. Tim sadly suffered a heart attack, but initially mistook his symptoms for Covid-19 which prevented him from seeking medical help for four days. By the time he did get to the hospital it was too late to save him.

As Sofia tells it, although Tim Fleming’s death was not caused by a Covid-19 infection, the virus indirectly killed him – a terrible side effect of this whole crisis.

Please take care of yourselves. Reach out to your medical support team if you have anything you’re concerned about. You don’t necessarily have to take a trip in to see them – I’m sure they’ll be just as happy as you if you get to stay at home.

Multi-award winning and Gold and Platinum-selling Canadian, ‘First Lady of the Guitar’ Liona Boyd is “Sending Love In The Time Of Corona” by way of her new single which is available now. Proceeds from the song’s release will be directed to the Unison Benevolent Fund to help support musicians and industry professionals with counselling and emergency economic relief.

“While bicycling early one morning near my winter house in Palm Beach, Florida, I was anxiously thinking about my friends, family and fans scattered around the world and how we are all having to cope with rapidly changing times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I began to hum the melody and lyrics to a little song, which would become “Sending Love In The Time Of Corona”. Wanting to help raise money for the Unison Benevolent Fund, I conceived this song to bring a message of hope and appreciation to those affected, and to those helping others.”

Scottish folk band Westward The Light have just released their self-titled debut, after three years together. The band: Charlie Grey (fiddle), Sally Simpson (viola/fiddle, Owen Sinclair (guitar, vocals) and Joseph Peach (piano) are well known on the Scottish folk scene and between them, they have played with Heisk, Tannara, Inyal, Iona Fyfe Band, and the duo Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach.

Westward The Light is an opportunity for them to make music a bit differently than with their other projects, focusing on simply arranged but well played traditional tunes and songs.

Newfoundland’s Sherman Downey has just released his third folk/pop album “New Beautiful”, the follow up to his very well received debut “Honey For Bees” and second release “The Sun In Your Eyes”. That album’s first single “Thick as Thieves” went on to win Sherman the CBC’s inaugural Searchlight competition in 2013.

The latest release features character driven songs that hint of escapism and a hope for a brighter alternative – something we all need during these strange times. It tells stories of folks who find contentment in the things they have and those who long for home after craving escape, and offers a glimpse at what it’s like to wander far from home and long to return.

On this episode we play “Front Porch”, a fun song about people watching from the front porch – something that’s probably not too exciting during these locked down social distancing days.

Smithsonian Folkways recently acquired Western Jubilee Recording Company, the iconic Colorado Springs–based record label focusing on cowboy music and poetry. With acclaimed releases from Norman Blake, Waddie Mitchell, Sons of the San Joaquin, Don Edwards, and Katy Moffatt, Western Jubilee showcases artists celebrating life on the range.

To commemorate the label, Smithsonian Folkways have released a new compilation “Take Me Back to the Range: Selections from Western Jubilee Recording Company”. The music shares a deep reverence for the land and the cowboy lifestyle in all its complexities, from the hardened, masculine stereotype of popular culture to more sensitive and nuanced portrayals.

Calgary based roots rock supergroup The Hello Darlins came together in 2016 when Calgary-based vocalist/producer Candace Lacina and keyboardist/producer Mike Little (known as MFL) crossed paths again after first meeting at a recording studio six years earlier. After reconnecting, they soon found themselves making music together in between their work with other artists, including Shania Twain, The Road Hammers, George Canyon, as well as the legendary B.B. King.

As The Hello Darlins, Lacina and Little, along with a powerhouse cast of professional studio musicians, combine to produce a distinct hybrid of country, gospel and blues. Their first single “Still Waters” features a cameo from JUNO Award winner Matt Andersen.

Christina Hutt is a traditional country artist from Northern Ontario with a rich, soulful voice, and who is constantly being compared to Patsy Cline. After taking in a George Jones tribute concert last year, Christina couldn’t leave the classic country sound behind. When she got home, the inspiration poured out into first single “Fifteen Shades” which was recorded at Currie’s Music in Gravenhurst Ontario with support from Bet Smith and The Currie Brothers.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic stirred up powerful memories for Bristol UK based blues/roots singer-songwriter Elles Bailey. As a three year old, Elles spent 17 days in intensive care in a coma on a respirator – supported by an incredible team of doctors and nurses. Proceeds from the release of Elles’ new single “Help Somebody” will go to support the HEROES Charity, and their Help Them Help Us campaign for frontline health workers.

“Although it was inspired by a different crisis, this song feels even more relevant today. During this pandemic, I have seen such an outpouring of love and kindness, and community spirit. Helping your neighbour helps make the world a better place and I truly hope this song will inspire people during this terrible time.”

“For this single release I’m partnering with the charity HEROES. Their ‘Help Them Help Us’ campaign is supporting frontline NHS workers in a variety of ways, from 3D printing much-needed personal protective equipment to delivering food to them at work on their long, arduous, dangerous shifts; as well as providing a variety of gifts to help thank and reward them, and keep up morale.”

Danny Schmidt‘s new single 2020 vision reflects on what we’ve lost and learned so far during this pandemic, or as Danny puts it in song… “…your weeks into months and your months into days as they all blur together like tears on the page.”

“2020 has been a most extraordinary and challenging year. It’s been surreal to live through, in real time, what will almost certainly be the most significant defining event of our generation. But even amidst the mayhem, fear, and anxiety of the Great Uncertainty, there’s been something beautiful in witnessing eight billion people regaining their balance and reconstructing their lives all at the same time, and all on the fly. And then there’s the loss. The loss of our sense of invincibility, the loss of work, of purpose, of rhythm, of independence. And of course, the actual loss of life. With a little luck and some indefinite wait, we will hopefully regain most of what we’ve lost when this is all over.”

Many of you may not yet know the name Noah Reid, but if I tell you that he plays David’s boyfriend ‘Patrick’ on the wonderful comedy series Schitt’s Creek, you probably know who I’m talking about. Noah sings a great version of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” on the show.

It turns out, Noah is a rather fine songwriter, as well as a singer. He’s getting set to release his second album “Gemini”. His single “Hold On” wasn’t written with the Covid-19 crisis in mind, but it could so easily have been. It is also accompanied by a very fine video.

“The video for ‘Hold On’ had to be done fast and had to be done carefully. I had other songs that were ahead of it in the singles line-up, but once it was clear the effect COVID-19 was having on the entire world, it felt like this was the song that would resonate the most. ‘Hold On’ was written when I had to be in Los Angeles for work immediately after moving in with my partner Claire in Toronto. The song was a reminder, to just get through it, try my best to be present and trust in my partnership, and everything would be ok.”

“I wanted the video to represent the feeling of being isolated and unsure of how things would work out, and also the feeling of joy and celebration when you’re on the other side of the challenges you’ve been facing. It feels to me like the personal connections I have are the things keeping me going, and I wanted to make something that reflected that. Hopefully we can all hold on and look back on this strange time in the way that you wake up and try to remember the strange and beautiful details of a dream.”

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.

Image: Image by Omni Matryx from Pixabay.


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)

Big Little Lions
Need One Another
Are We There Yet? (2020, Self) CDN

Sofia Talvik
Broken (Steel Guitars in Heaven) (feat. The Wreckers)
(single) (2020, Makaki Music)

Stan Simon
Flowers In Your Arms
In Basements: In Isolation Vol 1 (2020, Self) CDN

Liona Boyd
Sending Love In The Time Of Corona
(single) (2020, Moston Music) CDN

Westward The Light
Westport Chorus
Westward The Light (2020, Braw Sailin’)

Sherman Downey
Front Porch
New Beautiful (2020, Self) CDN

Kristen Martell
Ain’t No Obstacle
Coming Home E.P. (2020, Self) CDN

100 Mile House
Love and Leave You (2020, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Peter Rowan & Don Edwards
Take Me Back To The Range
Take Me Back To The Range: Selections From Western Jubilee Recording Company (2020, Smithsonian Folkways)

The Hello Darlins
Still Waters (feat. Matt Andersen)
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Christina Hutt
Fifteen Shades
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Elles Bailey
Help Somebody
Road I Call Home (2019, Outlaw Music)

Danny Schmidt
2020 Vision
2020 Vision (2020, Self)

Noah Reid
Hold On
Gemini (2020, 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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