Folk Roots Radio Episode 518: We’re All About The Music! (Better Times Will Come Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 518: We're All About The Music! (Better Times Will Come Edition)

We have another wonderful all music edition to bring you on Episode 518 of Folk Roots Radio. We’re continuing our focus on Covid-19 lockdown tunes, alongside some great musical social commentary inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that have been taking place across the US, and now across the world – after the tragic death of George Floyd. We’ve subtitled this episode the Better Times Will Come edition as  a special shoutout to Janis Ian and her wonderful Better Times Will Come project. Join us for new music from Janis Ian, Rising Appalachia, Fresh Breath, Crys Matthews & Heather Mae, Rube & Rake, Scott Cook, Stacey McNeill & Jonathan Smith, Ellis Delaney, Tom Prasada-Rao, Heather Pierson, Ernest Troost, The Treeline, John McCutcheon, Cris Cuddy, Olguita Alvarez and Noel “Paul” Stookey & Friends. Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

The Better Times Will Come project started when Janis Ian sent a copy of a new Covid-19 song to her musical friends and encouraged them to record their own versions. Since then a whole range of different artists of all stripes have got creative, while graphic artists have even joined in to create colouring page versions of the song. Currently, there are more than 50 contributions on the website including those from Eric Bibb, Mary Black, Neil Finn, John Gorka, Patty Larkin to name just a few. Head to and follow the links to the store to check them out. You can even download those you like.

On this episode we play Janis Ian’s a cappella original and another excellent version from Noel “Paul” Stookey & Friends (from Peter, Paul and Mary) with friends Maureen McGovern, Paul Sullivan, Emma’s Revolution, Eddie Mottau, Tom Chapin, Jess Jessop, and Tom Paxton.

“Stand Like An Oak” is a new song for Earth Day from socially conscious folk duo Rising Appalachia, who feature sisters Leah and Chloe Smith. The message in the song, remaining resolute, certainly fits for Covid times, too. We all must remain strong and supportive, and respect the needs of others – especially the most vulnerable in our communities. We will get through this… together and apart.

Josh & Katie Pascoe from Cottam ON make music as Fresh Breath and continue to put out some great singles. Their latest is “Make It Together” with more to come later this year. They remain as upbeat and positive as ever.

We played Crys Matthews & Heather Mae‘s Covid-19 power ballad “Six Feet Apart” on Episode 511 of Folk Roots Radio. On this episode we play the instrumental version which works pretty nicely in its own right.

“What Will” is a new single from Josh Sandu and Andrew Laite from St Johns NF, who make music as Rube & Rake, and taken from their forthcoming album “Leaving With Nothing”.

“Though it wasn’t intended, ‘What Will’ speaks to my (Josh’s) mental state throughout the last two months. Mainly the not knowing. Though I feel like I’ve always gotten through life without any sort of plan, now more than ever everything feels up in the air. All I can do is focus on the day ahead of me and nothing more.”

Stacey McNeill & Jonathan Smith from North Wales in the UK recorded their new single “Between The Lines” in lockdown while living 50 miles apart. The song will appear on their upcoming EP “Leaving Autumn Town”.

“The song was written, recorded and produced while we’ve been in lock down during the Covid-19 outbreak. With 50 miles between us, we haven’t been able to meet up once during its creation, so we’re really proud to have managed to pull this one together! We’ve also created a music video – social isolation style, of course – to celebrate its release.”

Alberta’s Scott Cook will soon be releasing his seventh album “Tangle Of Souls”. Tangle of Souls was recorded in Australia and comes with a hardcover book of Scott’s globetrotting road stories and ruminations, both personal and political. This project definitely deserves an interview. Stay tuned!

Ellis Delaney from Minneapolis has just released her tenth album “Ordinary Love”. This collection of songs is anything but ordinary. Ellis’ songs speak to personal issues of love of family and community, loss, alongside social justice themes such as climate change and gun violence.

“My hope for this record is that it both inspires a lighter heart while also expressing and connecting to the gravity of this moment in our human history. Can we greet our lives, each other, and even the news every day with ordinary love?”

We also included a a fantastic new song from Tom Prasada-Rao, which arrived as a Youtube. We knew we just had to share it with you – Tom’s song for George Floyd, the incredibly powerful “$20 Bill”. This song is so good, its already been covered by a huge number of other artists who have been playing it as part of their live-streamed online shows.

Check out the video:

We have a lot of time for the music and songwriting of Heather Pierson on Folk Roots Radio. Heather has just recorded her own fine response to the murder of George Floyd and the on-going protests, “Beside The Firelight”. Heather Pierson’s songwriting is so good, that we now download immediately, then take a listen. Check her out. You’ll not be disappointed.

LA based film and TV composer and singer-songwriter Ernest Troost has been on fire since the start of the Trump presidency, releasing a string of biting political singles. His latest is “Saving The Republic”. One of the few good things to have come out of it, then…

“Saving The Republic is dedicated to all the brave Americans marching all across the country to condemn racism and police brutality. May they be safe, peaceful protests, and may they result in meaningful reforms.”

The Treeline are a great new Canadiana folk band from Norfolk County in Ontario featuring Chris Rait (vocals, guitar, upright bass, anything else he feels like playin’), Jeannine Bouw (vocals, and if she’s feeling extra groovy, perhaps a shaker egg), Steve Glowala (keys, backup vocals), Matt Rait (guitar, upright bass) and John Salciccioli (drums, percussion).

“We sing folk songs from a Canadian point of reference. Our music and perspective is shaped by small town life, our changing seasons and the diverse landscape. In an alternate parallel Canadian universe where, instead of painting, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr write folk songs and The Group of Seven back them up, (we’d put Lawren Harris on guitar, A.Y. Jackson on keys and Franky Carmichael on drums). We’d call them Sonic Paintings.”

The ever prolific Cris Cuddy has two new albums out… an acoustic live album “Concert at the Slab” recorded in Peterborough ON with Benj Rowland (from the Mayhemingways) and Alan Black, and the more electric “Rusty Dusty” with Rusty McCarthy (longtime side player of Mary Margaret O’Hara) and drummer Michael Sloski, with cameos by Russell deCarle and Mike Holder (Sylvia Tyson).

Talking of being prolific, John McCutcheon has released a whole album of Covid-19 tunes, “Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine”. On this episode we play “Vespers”, a reminder that it is always darkest before the dawn. The world will return to the light after the darkest of nights whether that it be the Covid-19 pandemic or the need for racial justice and police reform in, what is still, at the time of writing… ‘the world’s largest democracy’.

Cuban American Olguita Alvarez from NJ has released a great new version of Cuba’s most famous song Guantanamera, which was introduced to the rest of the world by the late great Pete Seeger, and continues to bring people together.

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 will get through this.

And yes, better times will come!

Image by jplenio 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)

Janis Ian
Better Times Will Come
(demo) (2020, Self)

Rising Appalachia
Stand Like An Oak
(single) 2020, Self)

Fresh Breath
Make It Together May 15
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Crys Matthews & Heather Mae
Six Feet Apart
(single) (2020, Self)

Rube & Rake
What Will
Leaving With Nothing (2020, Self) CDN

Scott Cook
Let Love Have Its Way
Tangle Of Souls (2020, Self) CDN

Stacey McNeill & Jonathan Smith
Between The Lines
Leaving Autumn Town (2020, Self)

Ellis Delaney
Start Where You Are
Ordinary Love (2020, Singing Crow Music)

Tom Prasada-Rao
$20 Bill (YouTube Radio Edit)
(demo) (2020, Self)

Heather Pierson
Beside The Firelight
(single) (2020, Vessel Recordings)

Ernest Troost
Saving The Republic
(single) (2020, Travelling Shoes Records)

The Treeline
Victoria Day
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

John McCutcheon
Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine (2020, Appalsongs)

Cris Cuddy
Live For Today (Live)
Concert at the SLAB (2020, Vanishing Castle Recordings) CDN

Olguita Alvarez
(single) (2020, Self)

Noel “Paul” Stookey & Friends
Better Times Will Come
(demo) (2020, 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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