Folk Roots Radio Episode 546: feat. Gordie Tentrees in Conversation – A Tribute to Aylie Sparkes

Folk Roots Radio Episode 546: feat. Gordie Tentrees in Conversation - A Tribute to Aylie Sparkes

Yukon based folk-roots singer-songwriter Gordie Tentrees joins us on Episode 546 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about the life, music and legacy of Aylie Sparkes, a Manitoba born singer-songwriter who arrived in the Yukon in 2001 with a truck full of guitars and barely a penny to his name. Finding his community, Aylie Sparkes built such a fabulous reputation for his live performances and slide guitar play that he had people queuing around the block to get into his shows. Passing away from cancer in 2005 and close to his 39th birthday, Aylie Sparkes recorded only one full length album, the recently re-released “Beautiful & Deranged” from 2003 which was nominated for Blues Album of the Year at the 2004 Western Canadian Music Awards. Beautiful & Deranged is a truly awesome album, and this is a great interview. So, settle down and enjoy Gordie Tentrees in Conversation – a tribute to Aylie Sparkes, on Folk Roots Radio. Check out the full playlist below.


We did not know Aylie Sparkes. In fact until Gordie Tentrees reached out to us to let us know Aylie’s only full-length recording “Beautiful & Deranged” was being re-released we hadn’t even heard of him. Yet listening to that album, it became clear that he had a very special talent.

Beautiful & Deranged is an engrossing listen – with songs that reflect on the impermanence of what we call life, love and loss while showcasing Aylie’s fine ability on guitar and slide guitar. The album was produced with Bob Hamilton at Old Crow Recording in Whitehorse and features a really tight core band of Aylie Sparkes on guitar, lap steel and dobro with Paul Stephens (bass, fretless bass & background vocals) and Marc Paradis (drums and percussion). Joining them in the studio were guest musicians Jay Burr (valve trombone), Annie Avery (piano), Roger Gillies (nuked Wurlitzer) and Bob Hamilton (background vocals).

Aylie Sparkes passed away from cancer in May 2005 at the age of 38. His creativity and love for performing, playing, and writing was felt by many in the four years he lived in the North. The Inspire Song – North For 90 Scholarship was established in memory of Aylie Sparkes. It is available to youth/young adults 12 to 18 years of age inn the Yukon who are inspired to write original songs or music in any lyrical/musical format or genre.

Aylie Sparkes found his way to the Yukon, became a star in the territory and passed away before the social media age really got going. Gordie Tentrees is doing his best to collect everything he can about Aylie’s life, music and legacy.

Toronto-based filmmaker Alan Black spent two weeks in the Yukon with three musicians — Gordie Tentrees, Mikel Miller and Aylie Sparkes (who was then quite sick) to create a 29-minute documentary. Beautiful and Deranged: The Song of the Yukon allowed viewers a brief glimpse into the lives of the three singer-songwriters. Unfortunately it is not currently available online.

For more information about the music of Aylie Sparkes, visit 100% of all sales of Beautiful & Deranged will go to Aylie Sparkes’ children.

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!


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)

Aylie Sparkes
Wing And A Prayer
Beautiful & Deranged (2003) (2020, Self) CDN

Interview: Gordie Tentrees chatting about the life, music and legacy of Aylie Sparkes.

Aylie Sparkes
Livin’ My Life
Beautiful & Deranged (2003) (2020, Self) CDN

Aylie Sparkes
Joanna’s Reel
Beautiful & Deranged (2003) (2020, Self) CDN

Aylie Sparkes
Klondike Beauty Queen
Beautiful & Deranged (2003) (2020, Self) CDN

Aylie Sparkes
Dawson City
Beautiful & Deranged (2003) (2020, Self) CDN

Gordie Tentrees
Bottleneck To Wire
Bottleneck To Wire (2008, Yukon Roots 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.

One Comment

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  • Artsnet Yukon just put the Soundcloud link for this episode on their website with a song from Aylie.

    It’s strange how things connect. I was at Aylie Sparkes memorial at Peter and Mary’s Beaty’s place in 2005, near Lake Lebarge.

    There was a huge outpouring of people to pay their respects. I think I bought the album.

    So proud of you, Jan, for finding these amazing musicians. Aylie Sparkes was truly a special man / musician, taken away way far too soon at 39 years old.

    Thanks again!


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