Join us on Episode 540 of Folk Roots Radio for another great all music hour, as we hold back the interviews to check out more of the latest new releases. We’re subtitling this one the ‘Be Here Now’ edition as a reminder to try and live ‘in the moment’ as the best way to help us get through these difficult Covid times. Stay with us for music from Heather Pierson, Black Schwartz, Jack Ingram, Kathleen Edwards, Graham Lindsey, Leahy, Lennie Gallant, Gurf Morlix, Haley K Turner, Lynn Miles, Jeffrey Straker, Mike Plume, Billy Strings, Ivor Game and Rufus Wainwright with Choir! Choir! Choir! Check out the full playlist below.
We started off the episode with Heather Pierson with the title track from her latest album “Be Here Now”, a collection of ten vocal chants recorded last winter, which are inspired by and offered for meditation practice.
We followed that with Toronto’s Stephen Schwartz as singer-songwriter Black Schwartz from Toronto with “Dreams Don’t Come” from his new album “Little Meadow”, and Jack Ingram‘s new single “Times Like These”; a reflection on life in Covid Times, and noticing how people are finding more ways to spend time together in a positive way – even though the current situation is not something that anyone would wish for.
We wrapped the set with “Hard On Everyone”, a song about fighting back against an abusive relationship from Kathleen Edwards‘ first album in eight years, the critically acclaimed “Total Freedom”.
This episode’s instrumental was another track from Ottawa multi-instrumentalist Graham Lindsey‘s fine new album “The Next Best Thing”. One of the great things about tunes from Graham Lindsey, is that they always come with provoking titles and stories. “Don Kavanagh’s Latest” is a hornpipe named after Ottawa’s king of the hornpipe who was also a fine harmonica player. That tune is followed by two jigs – Ryan’s Jig (named for Ryan Lindsey) and the “Write Off” which is dedicated to the Canada Revenue Agency. Not sure if that will encourage them to go easy on Graham at tax time or not!
Leahy are back with a new single and what they describe as more of a contemporary sound. The upbeat “Good Water” is the title track from their forthcoming album, which is expected in 2021.
The glorious multiple harmonies on “Good Water” offer a perfect vehicle for the anthemic sentiment of this song. Each line of the chorus twists and folds cleverly into the next, creating a unity of both feeling and purpose. In the bitter dust of 2020, all of us are “thirsting for good water.” The production is full and rich and makes the chorus of voices shimmer and shine as they speak their truth. As John Lennon once did, Leahy dare to imagine “all the people living life in peace.”
Prince Edward Island singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant has released a timely new single “Sequoia” from his 2019 album “Time Travel”. Sequoia is an ode to the incredible Californian trees that can reach over 300ft tall, and live for more 3000 years. Although a lot of their forest was burned in the recent wildfires, ironically – if not too hot, forest fires can actually help the Sequoia trees regenerate and grow stronger.
Lennie Gallant and partner Patricia Richard travelled to the Sierra Nevada in California last October to film a video to accompany the song.
“Nothing could prepare me to sing that song at daybreak, amongst the Sequoia trees, with no one present but us and the cameraman. I was so moved I could barely finish singing the song. It seems as though if you could listen hard enough while in their presence of these majestic trees, you might learn something about time itself and why we are here. They have an enormous energy force around them and they are also amazing at trading large amounts of carbon in the atmosphere for oxygen and could play an important role in reversing climate change through efforts to repopulate the world with their numbers.”
We squeezed another track from Gurf Morlix into this episode. Gurf, from Austin TX, normally spends his summers in Northern Ontario. The track we played “Reason To Live” is best described as a commitment love song. You can find it on Gurf’s latest ‘homegrown’ album (he pretty much did everything himself), the reflective “Kiss Of The Diamondback”.
Vancouver singer-songwriter Haley K Turner‘s beautiful song “Stay With Me (Jacob’s Song)” clearly holds a special place in her heart. You can find it on her debut full length album “in from the dark”.
“Stay With Me (Jacob’s Song) is dedicated to someone I loved dearly who passed away unexpectedly at the age of eight. It was the hardest song to record on the album because its essence is out of my control. I don’t think it will ever be good enough in my eyes, but I sure tried. I know that talking about people who are no longer here often brings pain and sadness to the surface. It was my hope to make a song that created space to honour and reflect and remember.”
Saskatchewan folk/pop singer-songwriter Jeffrey Straker has released a beautiful new single, “Morning Light” – a song of reflection written after the sudden and unexpected passing of of his mother.
“My mom had been very sick in hospital but started to make an incredible recovery. The song was written while everything was seemingly ok. It was short lived and she very suddenly passed away. This song helped me work through the questioning, grief, revelation, & resolution I felt at the time.”
We also included another track from Lynn Miles. You can find the meditative “Because We love” – which has a fabulous string arrangement on her latest, and 15th album, “We’ll Look For Stars”.
Acclaimed roots rock singer-songwriter Mike Plume has a new album out “Lonesome Stretch Of Highway” which features nine storytelling songs that speak to a hard won life experience. Recorded in his adopted hometown of Edmonton, the album is Mike’s third collaboration with producer Marek David, and the first time they have worked together since 2001’s Fools For The Radio.
“I think with this record, patience has been the key. Some of these songs were kicking around for a long time, but they just weren’t ready. They just didn’t feel finished at the time I wrote them. Close, but not quite. I knew they had potential, so I just kept going back to them on a regular basis. I’m glad that I kept working on them, kneading them, massaging them, because that craftsman-like mentality has, I feel, helped this album to be among the best I’ve made.”
Fantastic guitarist Billy Strings
who plays what he likes to call psychedelic bluegrass has released a fine new album “Home” which really feels like a breakthrough for him. On this episode we play “Watch It Fall”, a song that tackles the US addiction to capitalism and fossil fuels as it reflects on environmental destruction, corporate greed and social justice, and asks the question… What do we do when there’s nothing left?
Acoustic singer-songwriter Ivor Game from London in the UK reached out to us about a spin for his music. We’re happy to oblige with the cute “When You Come Home” from his 2016 album “A New Start” (2016, Self).
We wrapped the episode with something very special, Rufus Wainwright & Choir! Choir! Choir! with their second collaboration, a powerful new version of The Beatles classic “Across The Universe” featuring a choir made up of 1500 people from across the world. We took the song from the Youtube they released which is truly amazing, and if you haven’t seen it, you really need to do so. I defy you not to get goosebumps. Enjoy!
Stay safe and well everyone… We will get through this…
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!
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)
Be Here Now
Be Here Now (2020, Vessel Recordings)
Dreams Don’t Come
Little Meadow (2020, Self) CDN
Times Like These
(single) (2020, The Next Waltz)
Hard On Everyone
Total Freedom (2020, Dualtone Records) CDN
Don Kavanagh’s Latest
The Next Best Thing (2020, Self) CDN
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Time Travel (2018, Self) CDN
Reason To Live
Kiss Of The Diamondback (2020, Rootball Records)
Haley K Turner
Stay With Me (Jacob’s Song)
in from the dark (2020, One Stop Shop) CDN
Because We Love
We’ll Look For Stars (2020, Must Have Music) CDN
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
The Sweet Passing Of Time
Lonesome Stretch Of Highway (2020, Royalty Records) CDN
Watch It Fall
Home (2019, Rounder Records)
When You Come Home
A New Start (2016, Self)