Folk Roots Radio Episode 541: We’re All About The Music! (Be Grateful Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 541: We're All About The Music! (Be Grateful Edition)

We’re all about the music on Episode 541 of Folk Roots Radio as we step back from the interviews once again to bring you another hour of great new releases. We’re subtitling this one the “Be Grateful Edition”, because despite everything – an on-going pandemic and a lunatic in the White House, there is still much to be thankful for. Join us for new music from Brennen Leigh, Piper & Carson, Andrea Bettger, 100 mile house, Simone Romei, Twin Flames, David Leask, Kevin California, Ian Reid, Gillian Welch, Bruce T. Carroll, Chris Smither, Dione Taylor and Laila Biali. Check out the full playlist below.

Show Notes

Nashville based singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh has released the first single from her forthcoming album “Prairie Love Letter”. “Don’t You Know I’m From Here” is an ode to her birthplace, on the state line between Minnesota and North Dakota – a region that Brennan points out is not often immortalized in song.

The song that inspired this episode’s subtitle, the “Be Grateful Edition”, came from Edmonton’s Peter Stone and Denise MacKay who make music together as 100 mile house. Their beautiful song “Grateful” reflects on the fragility of life, and the impermanence of absolutely everything in it, and a reminder to be thankful for everything you have – never missing the opportunity to tell those dear to you, how much you love them. You can find it on their latest album “Love And Leave You”.

As Denise McKay explains “Our writing has evolved from songs about Peter moving to Canada from England and the two of us meeting each other, to songs about the struggles of starting a family, the loss of loved ones and how the visions you had for your life inevitably change. We believe our songs have grown in the same way our relationship has, as we’ve matured.”

Andrea Bettger from Yellowknife who has a classical as well as folk background describes herself as sometimes a violinist, and sometimes a fiddler. On this episode we listened to her song “Pave The Lonely Highway” from sophomore album “Bush Chords”. Her first album “Snappy Day” was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2018.

Piper Hayes released her first full length studio album “Piper & Carson” in late 2017, which featured her music and life partner Carson Ritcey-Thorpe. That actually cemented things as far as her music is concerned, because they are now truly a musical couple – and billing themselves as Piper & Carson. Their new album “Edgewalkers Remedy” is a collection of songs that will help disarm the listener and nudge them towards healing, to asking questions and reclaiming their power and joy. They have also created a nice lyric book, a ‘Book for Adult Children’ to accompany the album, with illustrations from Riley Bee. “Fork In The Road”, the track we played on this episode is all about discovering the right path through life… “Practice every day how you want to live… find pleasure, despite the pain.”

You can check out some of the songs from Piper & Carson’s new album on an episode of the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions they recorded for us last year. You can find that session and 49 others on our website at

The boutique record label Tompkins Square have released another album in their acoustic guitar instrumental compilation series “Imaginational Anthem Vol. X: The Overseas Edition” features 15 European guitarists. On this episode we play “Flowering” by Simone Romei from Italy.

Twin Flames are an Ottawa based duo featuring husband and wife, Jaaji (an Inuk and Mohawk from Nunavik) and Chelsey June (a métis Algonquin Cree woman) who honour their ancestors through song in three languages… English, Inuttitut and French. On this episode we dip into their latest album “Omen” to play “Human”, which was UNESCO’s Official song to celebrate the 2019 International Year of Indigenous languages. Human has now been translated into 300 different languages. The song also won a Native American Music Award for Best music video concept in 2019.

Award-winning Scottish Canadian singer-songwriter David Leask has released a new EP “Voyageur In Song” which was performed on and celebrates the six-string nation guitar known as ‘Voyageur’. Voyageur was built from 64 pieces of wood taken from different aspects of Canada’s history – from the natural world to indigenous heritage and contemporary Canadian life, and carries with it the stories of the people and places that make up the rich fabric of this country.

Toronto based indie-folk artist Kevin California has just released a new EP, “Timeless” which takes its influences from folk, rock and reggae.

The ever prolific singer-songwriter Ian Reid from Rockwood ON has released a new album “Shifts”, which was recorded and co-produced in Guelph with multi-instrumentalist Jeff Bird (cowboy Junkies). Renowned for writing quirky songs, on this episode we play “Blue Stripe Salesman Award”.

In 2002, famed roots singer-songwriter Gillian Welch and musical partner/husband David Rawlings recorded 48 demos – an amazing number, over a weekend in late December. Those songs remained in the vault in the studio waiting for something to happen to them. That ‘something to happen’ was unfortunately a direct hit by a tornado, and massive flooding in March. After the songs we’re nearly lost, the decision was made to go ahead and release them all – as part of a new three volume series “Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs” – Volumes 1 and 2 have already been released. These songs are very polished, and certainly don’t feel like demos at all. On this episode we play the absolutely gorgeous “Strange Isabella” from Volume 1. We’ll hopefully have more on a future episode.

Bruce T. Carroll has released a timely and very powerful new single, “Lift Your Head Up”, his first new music since 2017’s very well-received “Ruckus & Romance”. The song and the accompanying video look at the current sorry state of our world and asks the simple but powerful question, why don’t you do something?

Americana bluesman Chris Smither is getting set to release his 18th album “More From The Levee” – the follow-up to “Still On The Levee”, his career retrospective from 2014. A popular live song, the first single “Lonely Time” is, according to Chris, the first positive relationship song he ever wrote. He finds it much easier to write sad love songs…

Prairie blues singer-songwriter Dione Taylor has released a new album “Spirits In The Water”, which was inspired by the Yuchi Indian Tribe legend of the Tanasi River or “Singing River” in Tennessee – and the woman in the river who sings songs to protect those who hear her. The new album, which was produced by Joel Schawartz – who also co-wrote a lot of the songs, is a musical odyssey that explores the deep sacred, healing journey back to the self.

“If the water speaks, and if we are still and listen then what fascinating stories do we hear? Perhaps, tales of eternal happiness, brutal hardship, necessary murder, unspeakable love and beautiful pain are buried in the muddy waters.”

We wrapped up the episode with 2019 JUNO-Award winner Laila Biali and her cover of the classic Leonard Cohen song “Anthem”. Anthem includes a couple of lines, that are perfect for the current times, and lines that I carry with me every day… “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen would have turned 86 on September 21, 2020.

Stay safe and well! We will get through this… and focus on all the good things in your life.

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!

Image by John Hain 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)

Brennen Leigh
Don’t You Know I’m From Here
(single) (2020, Self)

Piper & Carson
Fork In The Road
Edgewalker’s Remedy (2020, Self) CDN

Andrea Bettger
Pave The Lonely Highway
Bush Chords (2020, Self) CDN

100 mile house
Love And Leave You (2020, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Simone Romei
Imaginational Anthem Vol. X: Overseas Edition (2020, Tompkins Square)

Twin Flames
Omen (2020, Self) CDN

David Leask
Les Chansons Du Voyageur
Voyageur In Song (2020, Self) CDN

Kevin California
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Ian Reid
Blue Stripe Salesman Award
Shifts (2020, Self) CDN

Gillian Welch
Strange Isabella
Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol 1 (2020, Acony Records)

Bruce T. Carroll
Lift Your Head Up
(single) (2020, Self)

Chris Smither
Lonely Time
More From the Levee (2020, Signature Sounds)

Dione Taylor
One More Shot
Spirits In The Water (2020, Matay Records) CDN

Laila Biali
Anthem (Radio Edit)
(single) (2020, Joshua Tree Music) 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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