The holidays are here! Join us on Episode 559 as we celebrate the season with another special blend of Folk Roots Radio for the Holidays, with mostly new, independent songs that are definitely not your typical holiday fare. This year we’ve even thrown some Covid Christmas tunes into the mix! So, throw another log on the fire, settle down in your favourite chair and enjoy music from Good Lovelies, Fresh Breath, Abbie Gardner & Matt Nakoa, Colleen Brown, RUNA, Hal Cannon, Lisa Jeanette, Dion, Brett Perkins & Tamra Rosanes, Skinner & T’witch, Fortunate Ones, Skye Zentz, Screaming Orphans, Eoin Glackin, Céleste Lévis, Philip Scott Poli, Ed Sweeney and Connie Kaldor. Check out the full playlist below.
Toronto’s Good Lovelies love sharing their music during the holidays through their famed Christmas shows – which this year, because of the pandemic, have gone virtual. Their new holiday single “Christmas Time’s A Comin’” is a cover of the classic from Benjamin ‘Tex’ Logan and is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. If not, we may have to stage an intervention!
“My favourite thing about this song is the chorus, but especially the last line: “Christmas Time’s a Comin’, Christmas Time’s a Comin’, Christmas Time’s a Comin’ and I know I’m going home.” After living away from my family for many, many years, this holds special weight with me now. Now, Christmas means being at home, surrounded by family, being with the people you love, and having a moment to be still and rest during the darkest days of the winter.” (Kerri Ough, Good Lovelies)
Cottam ON’s Josh and Katie Pascoe, who make music together as Fresh Breath, have released a fun new holiday song “It’s Christmas Time Again”. We feel sure that we are not the only ones who can identify with some of the party memories in this song.
Abbie Gardner (from Red Molly) & fellow singer-songwriter Matt Nakoa have released “The Christmas Waltz”, a beautiful song that’s actually about listening to the holiday classic, made famous by Frank Sinatra. You can find it on wonderful compilation “The Longest Night of the Year, Volume 3” from Hudson Harding Music.
Prairie raised, Toronto based singer-songwriter Colleen Brown‘s “What Do You Want For Christmas” is a co-write with Pete Casey from Newfoundland. It also includes some adorable singing from her nieces and nephews. You can find it on her recently released pandemic-inspired album “Isolation Songs”.
Wild west folklorist Hal Cannon has released a new holiday single “Days of Christmas Time” with one foot in the past, and one very much in the present. Hal describes it as a brass-driven holiday tune that builds on the 1860’s gold rush song “Days of 49” but makes Santa the protagonist – as he looks out on the streets and is saddened by the season of light being dimmed by greed and selfishness. Days of Christmas Time is taken from Hal’s forthcoming album “Nothin’ Lastin'”, which is due in 2021.
Lisa Jeanette has released a fun holiday song with a serious message, “Mrs. Claus” which also features an improvised spoken word commentary by Vance Gilbert. According to Lisa, she intentionally wrote this climate change holiday song in the style of one you might hear in your favourite Christmas movie.
“We put this socially conscious protest song together to let people know how climate change is affecting the North Pole today. Santa’s Workshop is struggling to stay afloat with the polar ice caps melting. As the song will tell you, Mrs. Claus is seeing red because she too is dreaming of a white Christmas … at the North Pole! Think of it as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas meets up with The Pink Panther.”
Fresh from late period acclaim for his blues album “Blues With Friends”, Dion has released a new holiday single “You Know It’s Christmas”, which he wrote with Mike Aquilina. It also features Joe Bonamassa.
“I was talking with a friend about how the world this year can use a little life-giving love and harmony. I told him that Christmas was the grace that changed my life and that I was looking forward to a shot of that this year. The next day I got together with Mike and I picked up the guitar, started singing and words started to flow. Later I was walking with my buddy [and co-writer] Steve Bottari and he started singing along – with some new words. The song just seemed to write itself, a gift to finish off this challenging year.”
“Blues is my home and I wanted to write a Christmas song with that feeling. Mike suggested a ‘brag blues’ (in the tradition of “The Wanderer”) so we thought what would a bluesman brag about at Christmas? How he bought just the right gift for his girl and how she’s going to love it! Christmas is all about giving and I think the song catches that vibe perfectly. Joe Bonamassa gave me a great Christmas present by playing lead on it.”
“I wrote the song with my 11 year old daughter, after discussing how to prevent the pandemic, and necessary precautions, from impacting our gratitude for the blessings of each new day and the holiday season… resulting in an uptempo, toe tapping, humorous offering: ‘We’ll have a Corona Christmas in the year 2020. Practice social distance all around the family tree. Even sanitize the Santa hangin’ from the old chimney, on this Corona Christmas, staying healthy as can be’.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a new fun single from Leeds England folk duo Skinner & T’witch, who feature Sandra Twichett and Steve Skinner. This year’s Covid Times effort, “Dreaming of a Safer Christmas” is a little more serious than some of their previous holiday songs, as they attempt to capture a spirit of hope for a brighter future while reflecting on the challenges we’ve all faced during the past year.
Catherine Allan and Andrew O’Brien make music together as Newfoundland’s Fortunate Ones. Their wonderful new Covid Christmas single “Hold On To Christmas Day” was produced by Alan Doyle – and they describe it as a fitting send off to the rollercoaster year of 2020. There’s a very nice Fairytale Of New York feel to the musical arrangement of this song which has to be good thing in a holiday single.
“It is a deep exhale and a toast to a fresh start, equal parts elegy and anthem. We’ll learn to look back on the year come and gone and bury it’s memory like snow on the lawn, and we’ll tip all our glasses to carrying on, if we hold on to Christmas Day.”
Skye Zentz from Norfolk VA has released a new pandemic inspired holiday EP “All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go”. She describes it as being “full of 2020-centric, thoughtful lyrics, glockenspiel, fresh bass lines and soulful wurlitzer grooves, It’s got a little something for everyone. I hope it can bring a little warmth to a rather strange holiday season.”
Screaming Orphans are a genre-breaking, chart-topping sister band from Ireland who feature four members of the Divers family. They’ve just followed up their latest album “Sunshine And Moss” with their fun holiday single “Song We Used To Sing”.
Dublin born singer-songwriter Eoin Glackin has releases a holiday single “Any Old Christmas Will Do”. The inspiration for this song coming from the realization that Christmas this year will be very different from previous years.
“This year, Christmas will inevitably be different. The new song came to me in the spur of a moment while putting up my Christmas tree unusually early this year. Never in our wildest dreams would we have put it up so early, but the rules are out the window. We’re all just trying to grab any bit of joy and light we can. Although gatherings might be smaller and parties put on hold, the Christmas spirit has never been so important. We must seize it in whatever way we can… because this year, ‘any old Christmas will do’.”
“Noël tout autour” is a wonderful new holiday album from Ottawa based bilingual singer-songwriter Céleste Lévis. Featuring eight originals in both languages and two classic covers, it’s really well done. On this episode we play her lovely original song “Santa Please Don’t Cry”, a message from the heart directly aimed at Father Christmas himself, and a reminder of how comforting the holiday season can be in troubled times.
“Making this album was a childhood dream come true. If only Christmas could be celebrated all year round. The decorations, the smiles and magic would be all around us, always. I hope that everyone who listens to the album will be able to receive the messages of hope, warmth and love that help unite us all, despite the highs and lows that winter brings”
“Still Believe In Christmas” is a new song for the holidays in Covid times from Windsor ON’s Philip Scott Poli. It was recorded live at The Bank Theatre in Leamington as part of their mini concerts for their virtual 12 days of “Christmas from Our House to Yours” series.
Guitar virtuoso Ed Sweeney has a nice new instrumental album of holiday classics out, “It’s Christmas Time In The City”. On this episode we play Ed’s version of ““Auld Lang Syne”” which features Ed on guitar with Bob Zentz on hammered dulcimer and melodian.
“Light The Candles” is a beautiful Covid Christmas song and the perfect way to wrap this episode. It was the last song written by Connie Kaldor for her new holiday album “Prairie Christmas”. She wrote it on November 22 and recorded it on the 23rd with support from quarantining member of her own family. The album, which is excellent, is available as a USB Christmas tree ornament through Connie’s website.
That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening.
Stay safe and well, and have a wonderful holiday season. We’ll see you with more new radio episodes and interviews in 2021!
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)
Christmas Time’s A Comin’
(single) (2020, Self / Fontana North) CDN
It’s Christmas Time Again
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
What Do You Want For Christmas
Isolation Songs (2020, Flatcar Records / Fontana North) CDN
Instrumental Medley (Hark The Herald Angels Sing / Dixie Hoedown / Red Prairie Dawn / O Come O Come Emmanuel/ Road To Cashel / What Child Is This)
The Tide Of Winter (2020, Self)
Days of Christmas Time
(single) (2020, Okehdokee Records)
Mrs. Claus (feat. Vance Gilbert)
(single) (2020, Self)
You Know It’s Christmas (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
(single) (2020, Keeping The Blues Alive Records)
Skinner & T’witch
Dreaming Of A Safer Christmas
(single) (2020, Self)
Hold On To Christmas Day
(single) (2020, Old Farm Pony Records) CDN
All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go (2020, Self)
Song We Used To Sing
(single) (2020, Self)
Any Old Christmas Will Do
(single) (2020, Self)
Santa Please Don’t Cry
Noël tout autour (2020, Joly Records) CDN
Philip Scott Poli
Still Believe In Christmas
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Auld Lang Syne
It’s Christmas Time In The City (2020, Self)
Light The Candles
Prairie Christmas (2020, Coyote Entertainment) CDN