Folk Roots Radio Episode 520: We’re All About The Music! (Frontline Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 520: We're All About The Music! (Frontline Edition)

We’re back with another all new music edition on Episode 520 of Folk Roots Radio, as we bring you more songs written in isolation during Covid times and more songs inspired by the protests against racial injustice and police brutality. We also take our regular look at some of the latest new releases. Join us for music by Terry Barber, Larry Burns, John McCutcheon, David Olney, Kevin Henderson & Neil Pearlman, Steve Earle, SONiA disappear fear, Ray Weaver, Shemekia Copeland, Sunflower Thieves, Jon Stancer, Christian Howse, Moonfruits and David Clayton-Thomas. Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

When countertenor Terry Barber had his musical career shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, he felt the need to challenge himself and channel his energy in a positive direction. In Terry’s case, that meant songwriting, something he’d also intended to master. Working with mentor Mark Cawley, Terry has written a wonderful new Covid times single, “When The World Falls Apart”, a song that focuses on both the Black Lives Matter protests and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Half the proceeds from the sale of the new single will go to support the NAACP.

“Covid 19 Blues… Sheltering In Place” is a new Covid tune that arrived in the mail from Larry Burns, who we believe lives in Vermont. Unfortunately that’s the only information we have, and a return e-mail bounced back – so if you’re reading this, Larry, thanks for sending us a great song to share!

If you’re an artist, who has written a song we really need to hear, please get in touch. We can’t guarantee airplay, as every episode is curated – and there is a lot of great new music coming in every day. But we really love supporting independent artists, especially during these challenging times.

John McCutcheon has released a great new Covid themed album “Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine”. On this episode we play “Front Line”, John’s ode to front line workers who are going above and beyond on a daily basis to keep us all safe, while risking their own lives. The album is available as a digital download HERE.

Fabulous Nashville based songwriter David Olney tragically passed away suddenly early this year while performing at a songwriters showcase in Florida – from a massive heart attack. It was apparently peaceful, as David just stopped singing mid verse and slumped forward – the musical equivalent of dying with your boots on.

We received some good news this week, as a new song arrived in the mail, recorded not long before David Olney’s death. “Mister Rat And Mister Flea” is a song about a previous pandemic – the bubonic plague or black death which ravaged the world during the middle ages. The impact of the black death was well captured by French author Albert Camus in his 1947 book The Plague, that described a modern day plague infesting the Algerian town of Oran, and its impact on different members of the community in lockdown, with eerie similarities to what we are experiencing today.

Kevin Henderson & Neil Pearlman are a transatlantic duo featuring the fiddle of Kevin Henderson (Scotland) and piano of Neil Pearlman (US). On this episode we play Kevin Henderson’s “Tune for Lukas” from their debut album of original compositions “Burden Lake”. The music on the album was created overlooking Burden Lake, near Albany in New York.

Steve Earle has released an acoustic version of a new song, “Times Like These”, a song that he had originally intended to hold back to nearer the US election. A band version of the single will arrive in August, just in time for the pandemic rescheduled Record Store Day (August 29).

“This is a song I wrote for a moment at the beginning of the Trumpian nightmare that I planned on releasing closer to the election, but I reckon its time has come today.”

You can also check out a great interview that we recorded with Steve about his most recent album “Ghosts of West Virginia” on the website, as either a stand alone interview or part of Episode 514 of Folk Roots Radio.

“By My Silence” is a song written by Ellen Bukstel and Nick Annis, based on the famous words of Pastor Martin Niemöller regarding the Holocaust. A reminder of what can happen when we all stay silent in the face of injustice. A version of the song became the title track of SONiA disappear fear‘s 2019 album.

SONiA has just shares a new vidoe version of By My Silence, featuring the familiar harmonies of her sister CiNDY – the original sound of disappear fear, with SONia quarantined in Baltimore and CiNDY in Seattle.

Ray Weaver is an American singer-songwriter now based in Denmark. His powerful new song “Say His Name” was written in response to the brutal crimes being perpetrated against black people in the US.

Award winning blues Americana vocalist Shemekia Copeland has released a new single “Uncivil War”, a courageous statement pleading for unity in a time of disunion, that takes no side and speaks to every person’s desire to be safe and free. The song was written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough and features Sam Bush on mandolin and Jerry Douglas on dobro.

“It’s not just a song. I’m trying to put the ‘united’ back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.”

Sunflower Thieves are a dream-folk for Leeds in England featuring Amy Illingworth and Lily Sturt-Bolshaw. They’ve just released a beautiful new single “Hide and Seek”.

“The song was written on a writing trip we took to Norfolk in January. We stayed in a little beach-side house with a log fire and had a lovely, creative time. That definitely influenced the song – Hide and Seek is about childhood memory and ignorant bliss – we all wish we could escape back to a time when we felt safe and other people would take care of us, when life becomes a little difficult.”

Toronto’s Jon Stancer has just released a lush Beatlesque reworking of Neil Young’s “Comes A Time”. Jon is currently working on a full length follow-up to 2017’s “For The Birds”.

“I’ve always revered Neil Young, and I’ve been singing this and many other songs of his throughout my life. I had been doing this one a little differently though, and I liked the feel of it enough to try to record a version of it. I was just kind of chipping away at it for fun, as an exercise and as a diversion when I didn’t feel like working on my own songs.”

Newfoundland singer-songwriter Christian Howse has just released “Stuck”, the the first single from his latest project “Liminal”, a word which is basically defined as an intermediate state or phase. Liminal, the album, tells stories of life and people in a place that’s in transition… like during a pandemic.

Ottawa based bilingual art-folk duo Moonfruits featuring Alex Millaire and Kaitlin Milroy have just released an animated short film of their beautiful song “Les Marins” from their 2017 French language album about the imaginary village “Ste-Quequepart”. It’s a song we’ve played on this show twice before. It’s a favourite from a band we love, they are fantastic live. We taped a great interview with Alex and Kaitlin a couple of years ago which you can find on our website HERE. The new animation has also just been selected for the US-UK Lift-Off Film Festival.

Moonfruits are now working on a new English language project entitled “Salt” with father & son production team Charles and Oliver Fairfield. According to the duo, Salt pulls from the band’s roots and more recent past while moving between folk, soul and protest song, with arrangements crafted with long-time collaborators, alt-folk band Tragedy Ann from Guelph ON. The new project explores the themes of transformation, reincarnation, and… politics. Sounds like it will be very interesting.

David Clayton-Thomas has released a new video to accompany the song “Long Night” from his 2018 album “Mobius”, a song that David describes as a special thank you to all the first responders, frontline and essential workers putting their lives on the line every day, in dangerous and uncertain times.

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.

Image by Tumisu 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)

Terry Barber
When The World Falls Apart
(single) (2019, Self)

Larry Burns
Covid 19 Blues (Sheltering In Place)
(demo) (2020, Self)

John McCutcheon
Front Line
Cabin Fever: Songs From The Quarantine (2020, Appalsongs)

David Olney
Mister Rat & Mister Flea
(single) (2020, Deadbeet Records)

Kevin Henderson & Neil Pearlman
Burden Lake (2020, Self)

Steve Earle
Times Like These
(single) (2020, New West)

SONiA disappear fear
By My Silence
By My Silence (2019, Disappear Records)

Ray Weaver
Say His Name (for George and Ahmaud)
(single) (2020, Self)

Shemekia Copeland
Uncivil War
(single) (2020, Alligator Records)

Sunflower Thieves
Hide and Seek
(single) (2020, Self)

Jon Stancer
Comes A Time
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Christian Howse
Liminal (2020, Citadel House) CDN

Les Marins
Ste-Quequepart (2017, Self) CDN

David Clayton-Thomas
Long Night
Mobius (2018, Antoinette Music Productions / Linus Entertainment) 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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