Folk Roots Radio Episode 527: We’re All About The Music! (Stay Strong Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 527: We're All About The Music! (Stay Strong Edition)

We’re all about the music again on Episode 527 of Folk Roots Radio, as we hold back the interviews to bring you another hour of great new music, with some Covid lockdown tunes thrown into the mix. Stay with us as we bring you new releases from Francesca Blanchard, Mattie Leon, Byrd & Street, Big Little Lions, Stéafán & Saskia, The Burying Ground, Skydiggers, Tret Fure, Kris Paul, Twin Flames, Midnight Shine, The Jerry Cans, Logan and Nathan, Mallory Chipman & The Mystics and SONiA disappear fear. Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

Francesca Blanchard is a french born singer-songwriter currently based in Burlington, VT. She’s just released her second album “Maker It Better” which is all about the power of healing.

“Since the release of my bilingual debut in 2015, I’ve developed a newfound relationship with my music, a confident ownership. ‘Make It Better’ is an invitation to make something good out of pain – to learn from and move past it. I hope these songs can accompany you in whatever way they can.”

We’re big fans of the soulful folk/pop of Toronto singer-songwriter Mattie Leon who consistently puts out great singles, including his latest “All The Time”, which will be part of a new EP, produced by Gavin Brown (Barenaked Ladies, Metric, Tragically Hip), and due to arrive this fall/winter. Mattie joined us in the studio last summer for a great chat and few live songs.

Tommy Byrd and Kathy Street are an Austin TX based duo who make music for your soul as Byrd & Street. Known for their tight male/female harmonies and solid songwriting, on this episode we play the song “Right Here, Right Now” from their new album “Love Circles ‘Round”.

We mentioned on a previous episode that long distance folk/pop duo, Big Little Lions, featuring Helen Austin (Vancouver Island) and Paul Otten (Cincinnati OH) were working on a new pandemic lockdown EP “Are We There Yet?”. We’re pleased to say that it arrived just a few days ago, and chock full of catchy hooks, and tight harmonies. It’s another wonderful release from a couple of fine songwriters who work amazingly well together despite (always) being two thousand miles apart (yes, we checked). On this episode, we play “Stay Strong” which felt like the perfect subtitle for this musical episode.

“The Loon’s Call” is a new album of tunes, written by Anne Delong, and performed by Cobourg ON’s Stéafán & Saskia with support from Sam Allison (Lotus Wight) and Oisin Hannigan. Stéafán & Saskia’s fourth album together features multi-instrumentalist Stéafán Hannigan on guitar, flute, tin whistle, bagpipes (and more), with Saskia Tomkins (violin, viola and nyckelharpa), Sam Allison (double bass, banjo and jaw harp) and Oisin Hannigan (bodhran and assorted percussion).

The Burying Ground are a vintage blues and roots band from Vancouver BC with a core duo of Woody Forster (guitar, vocals) and Devora Laye (washboard, saw, vocals). Their fourth album “A Look Back” was recorded live off the floor with a band that also featured Wynston Minckler on upright bass, Clara Rose on fiddle & harmonies and Joshua Doherty on harmonicas & harmonies.

Skydiggers have released a couple of new singles, both covers – their versions of Bing Crosby’s “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”, and Michel Pagliaro’s “Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy”. On this episode we play “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” (which was written by lyricist Yip Harburg and composer Jay Gorney) and features Andy Maize on vocals, Josh Finlayson on baritone ukulele with Aaron Comeau (who also produced the singles) on bass, mandolin and clarinet.

Feminist singer-songwriter Tret Fure has written a new Covid tune, “Far Too Fast”.

“So many of our parents and grandparents survived hardships that we never thought we would ever face. I certainly never thought I would be living through a pandemic. But here we are. I pray for those whose lives have been lost and I pray for that brand new day.”

Kris Paul from Manitoba is an emerging artist with a bluesy outlaw country rock sound. Comfortable writing songs in a range of different styles and genres, Kris has just released a new single “My Prayer”, which was produced by Dave Wasyliw (Doc Walker) with Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies) on guitar. Kris is just about to head into the studio to record his first full length album.

Ottawa duo Twin Flames who feature métis (Algonquin Cree) Chelsey June and Inuk mohawk Jaaji have been long celebrated for their sonic landscapes. They’ve just released the “Battlefields”, the first single from their third studio album “Omen”. Battlefields has a mental health theme, and features lyrics in three languages (English, French and Inuttitut) and includes a synth heavy electropop arrangement.

“Mental health is a battle that many people face in silence. This song speaks to the stigma associated with it. In the Arctic of Canada, Inuit People face the highest amount of suicides in the world. “‘Battlefields’ is a song to remind our people we have to fight our own minds to survive. That we are fighters and, together, we can feel less alone and win this battle.”

Continuing with a mental health theme, Iqaluit, Nunavut roots rockers The Jerry Cans, who combine traditional Inuit throat singing with folk and country rock have released “Swell (My Brother)”, the first single from new album “Echoes”. Swell (My Brother) was written after two childhood friends died of suicide, something that lead singer Andrew Morrison describes as a pandemic, all of its own, in the band’s home territory of Nunavut in the far north of Canada.

Attawapiskat in North Ontario’s Adrian Sutherland and his band of Cree folk-rockers Midnight Shine have re-released a remastered version of their 2013 album “James Bay”. On this episode we play the title track which pays homage to their home region.

“My music is about who I am and where I come from. I’ve always wanted to share about my life through music, and my first album has many songs worth revisiting, especially in the context of today’s uncertain world. With everything going on around us, this seems like a good time to get back to the basics of a more simple life, and the universal themes reflected in my early music.”

Vancouver singer-songwriter and visual artist Logan Thackray and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Turner have just released “The Happening”, their third album as Logan and Nathan which blends some hip-hop and an ambient soundscape into their folk foundation. On this episode we play “Where Do We Go” which also features Cree rapper Rex Smallboy.

“I (Logan) wrote ‘Where Do We Go’ on my banjo with my back against an old-growth cedar tree, sitting on a soft bed of moss with not a soul in sight. A few months later I got a job with an organization called Mikw Chiyam. There I met Rex Smallboy, a legendary Cree rapper, and he taught me a lot through our conversations. We quickly developed an honest and open relationship, and after I played this song for him, I was honoured when he asked if he could be a part of the recording.”

Mallory Chipman is an Edmonton born jazz vocalist, now based in Toronto, who is spreading her wings as she moves into folk rock. “Aquarian” her debut album with her band ‘The Mystics’ has been variously described as prog rock meets jazz or, as we prefer, Frank Zappa meeting Joni Mitchell and Esperanza Spalding out on a blind date. It’s definitely worth a listen.

SONiA disappear fear (SONiA Ruttstein) continues to put out some great socially distanced lockdown cover songs (and videos). We wrap this episode with her version of the Phil Ochs classic “When I’m Gone”. The video that accompanies the song, which also features sister CiNDY Rutstein, is also worth checking out.

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… and stay strong. We will get through this!

Image by Gerd Altmann 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, Spotify, 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)

Francesca Blanchard
Make It Better
Make It Better (2020, Self)

Mattie Leon
All The Time
(single) (2020, Inside Pocket Music) CDN

Byrd & Street
Right Here, Right Now
Love Circles ‘Round (2020, Self)

Big Little Lions
Stay Strong
Are We There Yet? (2020, Self) CDN

Stéafán & Saskia (with Sam Allison & Oisin Hannigan)
Wind On The Shore / The Trundle Wheel / Colty’s Corners
The Loon’s Call – Tunes From The North Shore By Anne Delong (2020, Self) CDN

The Burying Ground
Behind These Eyes
A Look Back (2020, Self) CDN

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Tret Fure
Far Too Fast
(single) (2020, Tomboy Girl Records)

Kris Paul
My Prayer
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Twin Flames
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Midnight Shine
James Bay
James Bay (2013, Remaster 2020, Midnight Shine Music) CDN

The Jerry Cans
Swell (My Brother) (Radio Edit)
Echoes (2020, Aakuluk Music) CDN

Logan and Nathan
Where Do We Go (feat. Rex Smallboy)
The Happening (2020, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Mallory Chipman & The Mystics
Queen Of Swords
Aquarian (2020, Self) CDN

SONiA disappear fear
When I’m Gone
(single) (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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