Folk Roots Radio Episode 538: We’re All About The Music! (This Too Shall Pass Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 538: We're All About The Music! (This Too Shall Pass Edition)

We’re going all about the music again on Episode 538 of Folk Roots Radio as we hold back the interviews to bring you more great new releases, and this time around we throw some excellent new political songs into the mix. Join us for new music from Big Little Lions, James Lee Baker, Ian Gill, Shaye Zadravec, Westward The Light, Robert Cray Band, Si Kahn, Spook Handy, Richard Garvey, Raye Zaragoza, Melanie Brulée, Isabel Fryszberg, Andrea Nixon, Joe Nolan, Dirk Powell, Midnight Shine and Kari Lynn Hewett (with Roger Hewett). Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

Is 2020 getting you down? I’ve certainly had my moments lately. In fact, I can’t wait to see the back of 2020, the pandemic and the current occupant of the White House (he who shall not be named) – which is why we’ve subtitled this episode the This Too Shall Pass Edition. 2021 can’t be worse. Can it?

We started off the episode with “Distant Air”, the new single from Big Little Lions who feature the long distance songwriting talents of Helen Austin from Vancouver Island & Paul Otten from Cincinnati OH. The ever-productive folk-pop duo are committing to releasing a new single every month for the rest of the year – which is good news for us.  This comes after the release of their very well-received lockdown album. “Are We There Yet”, earlier this summer.

Amarillo TX singer-songwriter James Lee Baker has released a new 11-track collection, “100 Summers”, with support from Mark Erelli and Red Molly’s Laurie McAllister. On this episode we play the title track, a song about a simple goal – wishing for a life full of meaning and wonder. Something I hope we all aspire too.

We have a couple of Canadian artists that are new to our radar on this episode. Thunder Bay singer-songwriter Ian Gill has just released a great new album, “Morning Embers”.  Calgary’s Shaye Zadravec describes herself as a singer, and sometime songwriter. Her first full length album “Now and Then” is loaded with great interpretations of songs by artists like Jesse Winchester, Paul Westerberg, Lynn Miles, Ian Tyson, and (on this episode) Jay Farrar. Shaye is a fine singer.  We’ll definitely have more from both these artists on a future show.

This episode’s instrumental was “Noughts and Crosses: The Smile Sustains”, which was courtesy of Scottish folk band Westward The Light, from their self-titled debut. Drawing on the Irish as well as the Scottish folk tradition, the band features Charlie Grey (fiddle), Sally Simpson (fiddle, viola), Owen Sinclair (guitar) and Joseph Peach on piano and harmonium.

We started off the political set on this episode with the Robert Cray Band and the excellent “This Man” from their new album “That’s What I Heard”. No prizes for guessing who that song is about.

We followed that with “Listen, Mr. Bilbo (Make America Great)”, a song about the anti-immigrant sentiments of US senator Theadore Bilbo, which was actually written in 1940. Spook Handy has updated the song from his latest album “Songs of Pete, Woody & Me, Volume II – Dedicated To The Proposition”, by replacing the characters mentioned with more recent immigrants – people like Albert Einstein and Madeleine Albright to former basketball player Dikembe Mutombo. The important message this song contains, still remains.

Folk icon Si Kahn has released a great new single in time for the US Presidential Election – “Yo! Semite!” is a satirical song with a serious message about you know who (we’re trying to resist saying his name).

Si Khan explains why (tongue in cheek) he had to write this song:
“The 4th of July in 2020 will always stand out in my memory as the sweetest in my 76 years. That the current president of the United States, standing at Mount Rushmore in front of 60-foot sculptures of the Father of Our Country, the Sage of Monticello, Honest Abe, and The Hero of San Juan Hill, cared enough to give a shout out directly to me and my people. What else could anyone ever ask for? I murmur the words ‘Yo! Semite!’ over and over to myself, my heart bursting with gratitude and pride.”

Check out Si’s video below, which has already received more than 20k views on YouTube. Si is hopeful that the video will eventually get past the secret service into what he now calls the Oy-val Office. If you know anyone in the US that would appreciate checking it out prior to heading to the polls, here’s the link:

Kitchener ON singer-songwriter Richard Garvey‘s playful new old-time folk single “Airtime” comes with message that we all need to heed. Fear and hatred get loads of airtime in our 24/7 social media driven world – let’s not turn away from it. We must push back!

Young singer-songwriter Raye Zaragoza has released “They Say”, the third single from her forthcoming album, “Woman in Color”. It’s all about following in the steps of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and reclaiming folk music for the people.

Melanie Brulée has followed up her great 2018 album “Fire, Floods & Things We Leave Behind” – one of our favourite albums of 2018, with a great new single “The Mess”. The Mess is all about an all-too-familiar personal struggle: the showdown between Anxiety and Depression, and the inner voice that feels like it’s about to spiral out of control and destroy you. Especially so, during these strange times.

“Each Day A Little Less”, the new single from Isabel Fryszberg was written about the on-going (and some people would say, out of control) ‘condification’ of Toronto neighbourhoods which has lead to the loss of important community hangouts like bookstores, restaurants and record shops, which according to Isabel, are being replaced by a glut of high-rise condos, unaffordable housing and an army of cranes and construction.

“I envisioned Each Day A Little Less (my new single, a co-write with Mitch Girio) as a hybrid documentary/lyric/music video. I shot the video with cameraman Peter Cresswell on my iPhone, over a period of six months, to capture the grim reality of current city-dwelling during these times – and, even before the pandemic – but also to showcase the beauty of my beloved Toronto, in a way that hasn’t really been expressed before. I was honoured that the video was selected for the Toronto Lift Off Festival online, this past August, in the Innovator Shorts category.”

“Blind Spot”, the latest single from Edmonton singer-songwriter Andrea Nixon should resonate with anyone struggling to find their own identity. It encourages listeners to consider their own blind spots by reflecting on the times that they have felt unseen and unheard, as well as all the diverse voices that are currently muted in popular culture.

Just four months after releasing a great new album “Drifters”, acclaimed singer-songwriter Joe Nolan has just put out a great EP of b-sides from his previous album, the very well-received “Cry Baby” from 2018. On this episode we play the wonderful “Looking For Your Heart”.

Renowned Louisiana producer, songwriter, fiddler and side player Dirk Powell‘s new album “When I Wait For You” was co-produced with Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw, and recorded in both Louisiana and Scotland, with support from special guests Rhiannon Giddens, Sara Watkins, Sean Watkins, Mike McGoldrick, and John McCusker. On this episode we play the wonderfully catchy “Olivia”. It’s definitely an ear-worm.

“Olivia explores the feelings of timelessness that we revel in as children…and wonders if, from that place where the best of life so often resides, waiting for ‘time to tell’ might be a mistake…whether in love or anything else in life.”

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Attawapiskat ON singer-songwriter Adrian Sutherland wrote the song “I Need Angels” from his 2018 album (with his band Midnight Shine) “High Road” to shed light on the suicide crisis among indigenous youth, and to give hope to those that are struggling.

We wrapped the episode with fabulous Leamington ON based vocalist Kari Lynn Hewett (with support from her composer, orchestrator and pianist partner, Roger Hewett) and her gorgeous layered choral version of “Let The Rest Of The World Go By” which was written in 1919 by J. Keirn Brennan (lyrics) and Ernest R. Ball (music). Check out the great video they’ve made to accompany the song.

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. This too shall pass!

Image by Murray Rudd 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)

Big Little Lions
Distant Air
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

James Lee Baker
100 Summers
100 Summers (2020, Self)

Ian Gill
Forty Nine
Morning Embers (2020, Self) CDN

Shaye Zadravec
Now and Then (2020, Self) CDN

Westward The Light
Noughts and Crosses: The Smile Sustains
Westward the Light (2020, Braw Sailin’)

Robert Cray Band
This Man
That’s What I Heard (2020, Thirty Tigers)

Spook Handy
Listen, Mr. Bilbo (Make America Great)
Songs of Pete, Woody & Me, Volume II – Dedicated To The Proposition (2019, Akashic Records)

Si Kahn
Yo! Semite!
(single) (2020, Strictly Country Records)

Richard Garvey
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Raye Zaragoza
They Say
Woman in Color (2020, Self)

Melanie Brulée
The Mess
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Isabel Fryszberg
Each Day A Little Less
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Andrea Nixon
Blind Spot
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Joe Nolan
Looking For Your Heart
Cry Baby: B-Sides (EP) (2020, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Dirk Powell
When I Wait For You (2020, Compass Records)

Adrian Sutherland & Midnight Shine
I Need Angels
High Road (2018, Midnight Shine Music) CDN

Kari Lynn Hewett (with Roger Hewett)
Let The Rest Of The World Go By
(single) (2020, Self) 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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