We’re holding back the interviews on Episode 563 of Folk Roots Radio to bring you another hour of great new music – including some wonderful topical songs and Covid tunes, to help you get through these strange times. Join us for new releases from Luka Kuplowsky, Bill Bourne, A.J. Croce, Sue Smith with the Potion Kings, Leahy, Maria Dunn, Bonnie Light Horseman, Raine Hamilton, Alison Brown, The Twangtown Paramours , Karyn Oliver, Scott MacDonald, Madison Cunningham, Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes, Skerryvore and Carolina Story. Remember, if you like the artists you hear on this show, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music and then you’ll really make a difference to their income during this difficult time when it’s much more challenging to find live shows. Check out the full playlist below.
Welcome to a new dawn on Folk Roots Radio! We decided to subtitle this episode ‘A New Day Edition’ to celebrate the momentous day when the United States installed a new President who decided to join the rest of the world in striving for the greater good.
That was why we started off the episode with Toronto singer-songwriter Luka Kuplowsky and his version of Mary Margaret O’Hara‘s wonderful song of renewal, “Anew Day” which just happened to be the theme of Jan’s previous radio show – the Guelph ON based Royal City Rag. There are lots of great memories tied up there. Happy days indeed!
Luka Kuplowsky’s version of Anew Day also features vocals from Felicity Williams who has worked with Bahamas and Jayme Stone, among others. You can find it on Luka’s 2020 covers EP “Judee Justin Arthur Mary” which also includes songs by Judee Sill, Justin Haynes and Arthur Russell.
“When I sing Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “Anew Day”, I feel directly channeled to the joy and sorrow embedded in the music and lyrics. The first time I covered the song was the closing night of the Holy Oak Cafe – a space in Toronto that is so deeply important to my songwriting. The song is forever tied to memories of change and rebirth. Singing “Anew Day” is always utterly present and moving for me.”
“Love Me In The Morning” comes from Bill Bourne‘s wonderful laid back and reflective new album “A Love Fandango”. The overriding theme of this recording is, as you’d expect, ‘Love’. Nine self-produced tracks with support from Keith Rempel on bass and Paul Steffes (bass & lead guitar on ‘Hunker Down’). The rest is all Bill Bourne who gives full reign to his skills on a variety of different guitars, banjo and even dulcimer. This album is a joy. The CD is beautifully packaged too! Please consider picking up a copy.
“Learning music teaches the musician that the act of creation is an act of Love. After 55 years of study, this truth is still expanding within me. Like Love, music is invisible, yet we feel their presence. Like Love, music & songs live in the present to be shared with our Brothers and Sisters. Recordings, a snapshot of a ‘live’ moment of creation, are made for you so you may see with your heart what we can create together ‘live’, in the now. Like Love, music is a beautiful & potent gift. A gift for sharing, a gift that unifies. Peace.”
Nashville based singer-songwriter A.J. Croce (and son of Jim Croce) has established a great reputation as a piano player and vocalist. His latest single – a cover of the Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee classic “Better Day” comes from A.J.’s forthcoming album “By Request” which features twelve of his most requested cover songs. This version of Better Day also features Robben Ford on guitar.
“Since I was very young, I remember hearing the music of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. As a kid I’d listen to my dads record collection, which was amazingly diverse. Sonny and Brownie, like Ray Charles or Otis Redding were comforting. In my 30s when I started to play guitar, the first song I learned was ‘Better Day’. I’ve played it ever since.”
Guelph ON’s Sue Smith will release her sixth album, “Tonight We Sail” in February. The new album, which was recorded live off the floor, was produced with partner Jeff Bird and features Sue on vocals (and organ on several tracks) with support from the fabulous Potion Kings – that’s Jeff Bird on bass, Kevin Breit on guitar, Randall Coryell on drums and Howie Southwood on percussion. The album has a wonderful groove and a jazzy-buesy-folky sort of sound. On this episode we played the quite lovely “Night Skies” which comes with a fantastic video by Kristine White. You can really soak up the moment on this one.
Standing firmly in the centre of the Potion Kings’ incendiary musical alchemy, Sue’s expressive and sultry voice blends melancholy with hope, inviting the listener on a journey into the night and beyond, arriving at the inevitable awakening of a new day.
“Little Moon” is a beautiful instrumental from Leahy‘s latest album “Good Water”. The new album sees the sibling band pushing more into progressive territory and this original tune builds wonderfully. Starting with a solo piano it adds a first violin, and then a second violin and drums – before the arrival of a beautiful electric guitar from Nick Johnston. It’s magical.
Alberta folk singer-songwriter Maria Dunn has just released a fabulous seventh album “Joyful Banner Blazing” which tells more stories of family, community and, above all, resilience – with the overarching theme that a better world is possible if we want it, and are willing to work for it. On this episode we play the title track which tells the story of her irrepressible community activist aunt who devoted her life to helping youth and their families in London, Liverpool and Paisley in the UK.
Anais Mitchell, Eric Johnson from the Fruit Bats and Josh Kaufman came together in 2020 to form folk supergroup Bonnie Light Horseman. Their self-titled debut, which has been very well-received, features reimagined versions of traditional folk songs. On this episode we play their version of southern traditional “Jane Jane” which takes its lead from Seventies folk singer Tia Blake’s recording, which also weaves in elements of the Christmastime spiritual “Children, Go Where I Send Thee”.
Winnipeg’s Raine Hamilton has released “Brave Land”, the first single from her forthcoming album and a song that revels in the joy of being alive – a physical being with a spiritual presence.
“This song is a joyous one, full of celebration and outpouring. I am proud to sing this song of the mountains; that brave land that connects us to the sky. In this song I am revelling in the beautiful experiences of being alive, in these bodies built from the earth. Life is so remarkable! We can be earth-bound and spiritual beings at once. Wow! Here, the mountains are a metaphor for the connection between earthly existence and spiritual existence.”
It’s hard to believe that it’s now 50 years since Marvin Gaye released “What’s Going On”. To celebrate the anniversary – which just happened to fall on the same day that Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States, banjoist Alison Brown has recorded a new version of the classic song with a great vocal from Keb’ Mo’.
The Twangtown Paramours‘ latest single “Stars Without A Heaven” is a survivor’s story, and inspired by a documentary about holocaust survivors. It’s a timely reminder of where hate can lead.
“Each survivor had a different harrowing story to tell, but they all had one common fear about the present day – they worried that after they died, the world would no longer have first person accounts of the Holocaust. They knew if our society forgets the atrocities of the Nazis, that history could repeat itself.”
“Stand Up!” from Karyn Oliver is a song of self-empowerment… during these turbulent times. You can find it on her latest album “Stomping on Eggshells”.
“Stand Up! offers two kinds of news in response to these uncertain times. The bad news is, if you were waiting for some masked hero to swoop in and save the day, no one is coming. The most excellent news is, that masked hero is already here, and it’s YOU. Suit up!”
Scottish singer-songwriter and visual artist Scott MacDonald has released a new lockdown album “When This Is All Over” which was recorded in a WW2 air raid shelter (in his back garden) he converted into a studio.
Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes latest single “What We Leave Behind” was written for anyone reflecting on the meaning of their life during these strange times.
“Our new single, “What we Leave Behind”, is for anyone trying to find their legacy in the midst of upheaval, struggling to find where they’re going when the place they’re coming from is hard to bear. It heralds our wishes for change in the New Year and our hopes that all acts of compassion in 2020 will reverberate well into 2021 and beyond.”
Madison Cunningham has released a four song lockdown covers EP “Wednesday” which features songs by Tom Waits, Radiohead, The Beatles alongside John Mayer’s “The Worry In Me” we play on this episode.
“I challenged myself at the beginning of last year to learn and post a cover song every week as a way to stay inspired both in writing and preforming. What started as a fun prompt cracked something open in me and stayed for good, freeing me up in the areas I tend to be too cautious in. After weeks and weeks of this, I decided to release four of these songs as an EP of interpretations, in hopes that they would bring comfort to people in the same way they for did me during this painful year.”
Scottish folk-rockers Skerryvore have released a new high energy single “You & I” that reflects on togetherness and the long-lasting and important partnerships in our lives.
“The song was written to be a big festival end-of-the-night jump around and hopefully people can do that at home until we can play for them live!”
Carolina Story are the Nashville based married duo Ben and Emily Roberts. They have been creating music together since 2009. On this episode we play “See You When I See You”, which sees Emily taking the lead on a song that has a wonderful Kathleen Edwards feel to it. You can find it on their very well received second studio album “Dandelion”.
That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have lots of great music and interviews to bring you on future episodes.
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)
Anew Day (feat. Felicity Williams)
Judee Justin Arthur Mary (EP) (2020, Next Door Records) CDN
Love Me In The Morning
A Love Fandango (2020, Self) CDN
By Request (2020, Compass Records)
Sue Smith with The Potion Kings
Tonight We Sail (2021, Self) CDN
Good Water (2021, Self) CDN
Joyful Banner Blazing
Joyful Banner Blazing (2021, Distant Whisper Music) CDN
Bonnie Light Horseman
Bonnie Light Horseman (2020, 37d03d)
Brave Land (2021, Self) CDN
Whats Going On (feat. Keb Mo)
(single) (2021, Compass Records)
The Twangtown Paramours
Stars Without A Heaven
(single) (2021, Inside Edge Records)
Stomping on Eggshells (2020, Buxom County Records)
When This Is All Over
When This Is All Over (2020, Self)
The Age Of Worry
Wednesday (EP) (2020, Verve Forecast)
Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes
We Are What We Leave Behind
(single) (2021, Self)
You & I
(single) (2020, Self)
See You When I See You
Dandelion (2021, Black River Americana)