Join us on Episode 529 of Folk Roots Radio for another all music edition of the show, with a few more Covid-19 lockdown songs thrown into the mix. There is loads of great music out there at the moment, and it’s our absolute pleasure to share more of it with you on this episode. This time around we feature new music from Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, Kristen Grainger & True North, Ray Cardwell, Graham Lindsey, The Small Glories (Cara Luft & JD Edwards), April Verch, Joe Phillips, Ian Foster, James Lee Stanley, Michael Logen and Jennifer Hanson, Buddy & Julie Miller, Eliza Gilkyson, Silver Wolf Band, Crooked Weather, Elliott BROOD, Tragedy Annn, Death Party Playground and Sherman Downey. Check out the full playlist below.
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!
Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards have just released a great new indie folk album “Bitter Better” which for a fiddle driven band has quite the pop feel to it, with the use of dance grooves and looping to really push the boundaries of folk.
The album came out of a huge period of change for Laura – including finding new love in Ghent Belgium, after a painful divorce. It takes a look at America from the point of view of both an American and an outsider; and includes songs that focus on cultural isolation (“Where the Fox Hides” – Belgium has the highest suicide rate of any country in Europe), treating your partner with kindness (“Treat You Better”), and the California wildfires (“From the Ashes”).
“Everything is so heavy in the world right now. When someone comes to our show, listens to this album, or hears one of the songs, I want it to feel like relief and release. There was a lot to feel hopeless about – big political changes and taking to the streets to protest injustice. Friends had been marching weekly since January 20th and I could see our energy and optimism waning. I wanted to remind us all to take care of ourselves and reconnect with hope and joy as the longer days returned.”
Kristen Grainger and her Oregon based band True North weave together bluegrass picking and some fine Americana folk songs on their new album “Ghost Tattoo”. It’s an album that doesn’t shy away from some of the challenging issues affecting modern day America, such as the unjust child separations on the US – Mexico border, and the systemic inequality that affects both women and people of colour.
“My goal is to craft song stories that illuminate extraordinary aspects of ordinary life, the triumphs and heartbreak that define our lives.”
Bluegrass and gospel singer-songwriter Ray Cardwell has a great new single out, “Rising Sun”. It’s a co-write with Louisa Branscomb, and a wonderfully upbeat song that was written to provide hope and inspiration in these strange pandemic times. You’ll be able to find it on Ray’s forthcoming album “Just A Little Rain” which arrives in September.
On this episode we include two tracks from multi-instrumentalist Graham Lindsey‘s forthcoming album “The Next Best Thing”. The title track is a real departure, as it’s actually a song – and a rousing one at that. It features vocals from The Small Glories (that’s Cara Luft & JD Edwards) with April Verch on fiddle, Joe Phillips on bass, Ian Foster on keyboards (who also handled the production) and Graham Lindsey on octave mandolin & mandolin. All the artists recorded their parts while physically distanced. It’s amazing what technology allows you do these days. We also included the instrumental “Fractions”, an energetic fiddle and guitar tune written in mixed meter timing – meaning one bar of music has a different timing from the next, and featuring Carole Bestvater from St Johns on fiddle and Jesse Périard (from the, on hiatus, Ten Strings & A Goat Skin) on guitar, with Graham Lindsey on tenor mandolin and Leonard Podolak (founder and leader of The Duhks) on banjo.
“Dark Road” by James Lee Stanley is very much a song for these troubled times. You can find it on his 38th album, the critically acclaimed “Without Susie”.
Americana singer-songwriter Michael Logen and country singer-songwriter Jennifer Hanson have record a lovely new E.P., “Here’s To Hoping”, together. They’ve written a few songs together over the years, and the new album features five songs with a summery feel, great harmonies and, definitely, a large dollop of hope.
Buddy & Julie Miller have been keeping themselves busy during their Covid-19 quarantine by working on the “Lockdown Sessions”, a new pop-up album of songs that take as their subject matter both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests happening across the US. On this episode we play “Let It Rain”, a song that Julie Miller describes as “…my heart crying with their hearts”. It also features support from both The McCrary Sisters & Steve Earle.
“I don’t do anything on purpose too well. These songs just came as accidents, as instant overflows to what I saw coming at me on my TV screen. I was inspired and I sometimes wept. Though some were humorous, all were serious…. just an overflow.”
Eliza Gilkyson‘s “My Heart Aches” is a powerful condemnation of the Trump administration. You can find it on Eliza’s great new album, “2020”, a call to action in an election year.
The Silver Wolf Band are a four piece indigenous folk/pop band from Happy Valley Goose Bay, Labrador. They’re getting ready to release their second album “Storms & Prayers”. On this episode we play their song “Woman Of Labrador”.
Crooked Weather from the UK describe their music as earthy, unruly and original folk songs that echo the songsmiths before them with imagery of escape, companionship and searching, but sung with new heart and fresh voice. Featuring the carefully crafted lyrics of their gravelly-voiced leader Will Bladen, their latest single “Pay My Dues” is a reflection on the life of the independent musician.
“I wrote ‘Pay My Dues’ whilst touring Australia. It was 43 degrees in the shady spot where I was hiding from the sun before a show and I got to reflecting upon my life as an independent musician: the investments and the seemingly miserly returns; and the need to find energy on top of the gardening job that helps keep the wolves from the door. These voices get loud sometimes and are made louder still by hard times. But when you really get down to it, you know that’s not what this game is all about. If that creative spark is in you, it’s not a choice of using it or not, but rather what voice you give it. The magic of a new song being born or playing a show that changes somebody’s life has an intangible value. What a joy to have that spark inside just waiting. That is why I will keep on paying my dues.”
Elliott BROOD have just released their seventh album “Keeper”, an album that speaks to loyalty and longevity, while exploring the strength of conviction, and how that strength is tested over time. On this episode we play the first single, “Stay Out”, a song that describes the excitement of being out and about – before reflecting on the when and why we find our way home again.
Braden Phelan and Liv Cazzola, who make music together as Tragedy Ann, have recorded a great lockdown single – a wonderfully sombre version of the classic “Long Black Veil” – which comes complete with its own singing saw (courtesy of Liv Cazzola). Available for download, proceeds from the new single are being donated to the Unison Benevolent Fund. Braden and Liv have also started what they call ‘Reverse Porch Parties’ – playing lawn concerts across the Kitchener-Waterloo area while socially distancing residents enjoy the show from their porch. It’s great to see musicians finding inventive ways to keep the music alive in their own local communities.
Kyle Taylor, from Waterloo ON-based power pop band Death Party Playground, was in Los Angeles taking a break after finishing up their latest album “Little Joy”, when he decided to perform a solo acoustic set of songs from the new album at The Mint. As the pandemic has forced artists to showcase themselves in acoustic settings, Kyle has released a spine-tingling performance of the track “Still Memories” as both a video and, now, a Bandcamp download.
“I had the video in the vault – saving it for a rainy day. I hadn’t seen the performance since it was made, and the fresh eyes on it made me nostalgic for my time in L.A. and all the good things that have happened to me since then. ‘Still Memories’ is about appreciating what you had. We’re all feeling a bit like that just now, which made it the perfect time to get it out there.”
We’ve been really enjoying “New Beautiful”, the new album from St John’s singer-songwriter Sherman Downey.
A glimpse into what it’s like to wander far from home and long to return. Letting loose in the local dance hall, people-watching from the front porch, or playing with love in out-of-the-way gas stations – Sherman Downey speaks to those of us who yearn for some sort of change in their day to day.
If you need a lift – it’s definitely an album to check out. We wrap the episode up with “Long Goodbye”. We’ll be back next week, though…
Stay safe and well everyone… We will get through this! Why? Because we’re resilient!
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)
Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards
Bitter Better (2020, Compass Records)
Kristen Grainger & True North
Keep The River On Your Right
Ghost Tattoo (2020, Self)
Just A Little Rain (2020, Bonfire Music Group)
Fractions ext. (feat. Carole Bestvater, Jesse Periard & Leonard Podolak)
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
James Lee Stanley
Without Susie (2020, Beechwood Recordings)
My Heart Aches
2020 (2020, Red House Records)
Silver Wolf Band
Woman Of Labrador
Storms & Prayers (August 14 2020) (2020, Self) CDN
Pay My Dues
(single) (2020, Self)
Keeper (2020, Six Shooter Records) CDN
Long Black Veil
(Single) (2020, Self) CDN
Death Party Playground
Live At The Mint (2020, Self) CDN
New Beautiful (2020, Self) CDN