We’re holding back the interviews on Episode 522 of Folk Roots Radio as we bring you another hour of great new music. We’re subtitling this one the ‘Blendsday’ edition as we’re fairly sure that we’re not the only ones who have trouble working out what day it is – as we all try to cope with endless days at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. We don’t know who came up with the name Blendsday but it does seem to be the perfect way to describe the strange days we’re now living through. So join us for Covid tunes, songs about social justice and tracks taken from some fine scheduled album releases, with music by Fred Arcoleo, Don Bray, Owen Paul, Judy Collins & The Global Virtual Choir, Kevin K Gagnon, Skinner & T’witch, Tim Readman, Mike Glick, Don Johnston, Chastity Brown, Raye Zaragoza, Colleen Kattau, Carissa Kimbell, Katie Ditschun and Paul Kelly & Paul Grabowsky. Check out the full playlist below.
“Today Again”, the title track from Fred Arcoleo‘s 2019 album reflects on the urgency and patience required to address the everyday struggles that define our existence. That would particularly apply to these strange times – which makes this song the perfect way to kick off the Blendsday edition of Folk Roots Radio.
Don Bray joined us on Episode 519 of Folk Roots Radio for an in-depth conversation about his fabulous sixth album “I Bless The Wounds” – thirteen songs written through the lens of Complex PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Don’s just released a new single, “How ‘Bout You” which came out of a period of reflection about the Black Lives Matter protests and the whole issue of unacknowledged ‘white privilege’. It’s another great song.
Scottish singer-songwriter Owen Paul has just released “Sleeping On The Same Pillow”, the first single from his forthcoming album “Overblown Superstar”. You may not be that familiar with Owen Paul, but he had a huge pop hit in the UK in 1986 with “My Favourite Waste Of Time” – a song that is still popular on many 80s compilations. Owen describes “Sleeping on the Same Pillow” as something that everyone should be able relate to in these strange times and a truer representation of both his Celtic upbringing and songwriting roots.
Judy Collins has just released a new version of “Amazing Grace” – 50 years after the original release. The new version, released in quarantine, was created with the help of The Global Virtual Choir and features contributions from the likes of Alan Cumming, Steve Earle, Madeleine Peyroux and Mandolin Orange plus some internationally known choirs like The Sixteen, New York Choral Society, Voices International, and the GOA University Choir. Proceeds from the sale of the single will support the World Health Organization‘s Solidarity Response Fund.
Kevin K Gagnon is a bass player from Windsor ON who has been active on the local scene since 1978. Kevin is also a bit of a closet electric guitar, and has just released a great new single “Bells of Windsor” – which was recorded in lockdown and mixed / mastered in Windsor by JD Oppen. Kevin Gagnon joined us on Folk Roots Radio last year for a great in-depth conversation about his first solo album “It Is What It Is”, which was released to celebrate 40 years in the music business. You can check out the interview HERE.
Skinner & T’witch from Leeds in England have been keeping themselves busy during the pandemic playing livestream shows and recording more of their trademark humorous songs. They’ve released an album of songs recorded during lockdown, appropriately entitled “The Lockdown Sessions”. On this episode we play their new single “Working From Home”, which seems to be part of the new normal.
Tim Readman is an expat Brit from the North-East of England, now living in Vancouver. Tim has recorded a great fun song for these Covid times, with new words to the old Julie Felix novelty hit ‘Going to the Zoo’ (which was written by Tom Paxton). This one is, of course, entitled “Going On Zoom”. On a side note, Julie Felix, who was born in California, but built a successful 60s folk career in the UK – including hosting her own music show on the BBC for several years, sadly passed away earlier this year.
Mike Glick is a singer-songwriter and activist from New York. We dipped into his new album “Alternative Facts & Other White Lies” on this episode to play the fun title track “Alternative Facts”. I don’t think I need to tell you what that song is about.
Don Johnston from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island has become a fast friend of this show because he loves to write and record songs at home whenever the mood takes him. We played his fun song “Covid Belly” on Episode 15 of Folk Roots Radio. On this episode we play another new song, “This Old Fire Ball”, which also features his good friend Tom Leclair on bass.
Minneapolis-based Chastity Brown has released a new single, “Golden”, which was inspired by brutal murder of George Floyd – which, of course, occurred in Minneapolis. The new song focuses on the aftermath to this heinous crime, as the whole world reacted to the injustice and systemic racism facing people of colour.
Colleen Kattau from Courtland NY has written a great song about protest and the need to push to end injustice, “Amen To The Freedom Rides”. You can find it on her new album “Besos Kisses”.
Raye Zaragoza is a singer-songwriter who is definitely on the rise. Her latest single “The It Girl” is a reflection on white privilege, as a person of colour – and growing up with the feeling that you, somehow, have to be white to get on in life.
“Growing up, all I ever wanted to be was the it girl. I thought that meant I needed to be a pretty blonde princess Barbie who met her Prince Charming arode off into the sunset. This fantasy left me with immense inner turmoil and self-hatred. In high school, I would even lighten my skin with lemon juice, dye my hair lighter, and wear blue contacts. I truly thought that in order to be beautiful, you had to be white. “The It Girl” is my outcry for diverse representation in media, a plea to throw out the old rule book of western expectations of women. I am proud to be a multicultural brown woman with insecurities and a vibrant intersectional identity that I continue to grapple with. I hope young girls of today will know that “The It Girl” is whatever the hell they want to be. It’s time we throw the arbitrary social boxes and expectations for women in the recycling bin.”
Carissa Kimbell is a young singer-songwriter who splits her time between Hamilton ON and Nelson BC. Carissa is celebrating the release of a new single and the end of a three year journey to get her music out into the world. “Like Water” is a reflection of this journey and the recognition that she needed to surrender the past to make way for her future.
Jazz singer and folk singer-songwriter Katie Ditschun has released a great single, the ukelele driven “That Is That” – a song that she describes as ‘whimsy with depth’.
“One morning, in the shower, I was singing songs from one of my favourite musicals and felt overcome by the powerful fact that everyone needs other people in their lives. The power of love and human connection is unparalleled. ‘People need people. That is that. People need people – That’s a fact! Ending ‘That Is That.’ — with a firm period, is recognition that although this is a simple song with easy to understand words and phrases, it also has a very complex and complete message. I like to call it, whimsy with depth!”
Acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly has just released a great new album with fellow Australian jazz pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky. “Please Leave Your Light On” features wonderful new piano arrangements of some Paul Kelly songs with a wonderful piano jazz feel. It’s an excellent album.
According to Paul Grabowsky, “All of the songs were already part of Paul’s extensive catalogue. I transcribed them, and adapted them for the piano/voice combination. In addition, I threw in a ballad by Cole Porter called ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye,’ which Paul delivers in an understated, sensitive way. The performances are intimate, and shine a light on lyrical moments from the Kelly oeuvre. Paul is a generous collaborator, always listening closely to what I am doing, and giving me the freedom to bring my own interpretation to the songs. I think people will hear, and hopefully enjoy, the deep communication that we are bringing to the performances.”
Paul Kelly adds, “All the songs except one were written by me over many years. The most recent one, ‘True to You,’ opens the album with a little nod to the Gershwin brothers and it’s the only song that hasn’t appeared in another form on a previous record. We chose the other songs with a mind to their suitability for direct address, close, concentrated performance and room for silence to draw the listener in.”
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. Oh, and Happy Blendsday!
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)
Today Again (2019, Rally Folk Records)
How ‘Bout You
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Sleeping On The Same Pillow (feat. Lynne Johnstone)
(single) (2020, Self)
Judy Collins & The Global Virtual Choir
(single) (2020, Rhino)
Kevin K Gagnon
Bells Of Windsor
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Skinner & T’witch
Working From Home
(single) (2020, Self)
Going On Zoom
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Alternative Facts & Other White Lies (2020, Generations Music)
This Old Fire Ball
(demo) (2020, Self) CDN
(single) (2020, Red House Records)
The It Girl
(single) 2020, Self)
Amen To The Freedom Rides
Besos Kisses (2020, Windlight Studio)
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
That Is That
Spare Skirt (2019, Self) CDN
Paul Kelly & Paul Grabowsky
Please Leave Your Light On
Please Leave Your Light On (2020, Gawd Aggie Records)