We’re holding back the interviews again on Episode 565 of Folk Roots Radio to bring you another hour of great new music with some fine Covid times singles thrown into the mix. Musicians and music industry employees have seen their livelihoods severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. For that reason, we have chosen to use the Canadian Live Music Association awareness campaign slogan For The Love Of LIVE (#fortheloveoflive) to subtitle this episode. Music helps us all get through tough times. It’s time for us to give back and do what we can to help publicize the issues facing artists and the live music industry, generally, during the current crisis. Join us on this episode for new music from Allison Russell, Mati Haskell (with JK Gulley), John Smith, The Treeline, Seamus Egan, Joy Zimmerman, Lizanne Knott, Larry Folk, Jaime Michaels, Francine Honey, Luke Concannon, The Brother Brothers, Jerry Leger, Justin Rutledge and Keith Goodwin. 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 impossible to play live shows. Check out the full playlist below.
Musicians have been severely impacted by the on-going coronavirus pandemic. While in lockdown, they cannot tour or play live shows. They have, instead, been relying on online Livestream as a way to connect with their fan base, even though this is no substitution for in-person performance. Their income has suffered accordingly.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been encouraging our listeners to buy the music of the artists we play on Folk Roots Radio, rather than just streaming it. Although the streaming model, like social media, is a good awareness tool for musicians, because of the way remuneration per play is currently configured it is not a significant income source for most independent artists. Their livelihood depends on touring and live shows. No live shows mean no real income.
For that reason, we are wholeheartedly supporting the Canadian Live Music Association #ForTheLoveOfLIVE awareness campaign.
The campaign aims to bring attention to the damage COVID-19 shutdowns have caused Canada’s live music industry – the artists, festivals, venues, promoters, clubs, concert halls, arenas, talent agencies, unions, and many others working in the supply chain that connect Canadians with extraordinary live music experiences. Join us in helping to spread the word of support for Canada’s Live Music Industry, using your own social networks and the hashtag #fortheloveoflive to raise awareness about how the live music scene is being impacted by the ongoing pandemic – share your memories, stories, photos, tag your favourite venues and festivals, tag local media, etc.
To further support the need to support musicians and live music, on this episode, we included a new song written Keith Goodwin from Good Old War. “I Know What Love Is (Because Of You)” reflects the spirit of community and connection that music provides for so many people around the world. The song features contributions from more than 50 different artists across many different genres and styles (including Zac Brown, Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall). Proceeds from the sale of the single will support MusiCares, an organization dedicated to providing emergency relief – along with mental and physical health services, for music industry employees and their families.
We started off the episode with Allison Russell (from Birds of Chicago and Our Native Daughters) with her version of Sade’s “By Your Side”. This song will appear on Allison’s first solo album which is due out this spring.
“Sade’s By Your Side is an endlessly expansive and inclusive song of love. It could be the love between lovers, the love of a parent for a child, the love for an elder who is not long for this world. It feels like it has always existed and always will. It feels like an expression of our collective unconscious. It comforts me and invokes a melancholy yearning all at once. I was singing this one to my seven-year-old daughter, Ida, like a lullaby. I couldn’t get through it without crying. This pandemic has been devastating for our little ones. I’ve returned to this song almost daily during these hard months.”
Against the backdrop of a universally difficult 2020, British songwriter and guitarist John Smith found himself facing personal and unrelenting challenges. In the spring of 2020, Smith and his wife lost a pregnancy, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer. With his touring schedule of two hundred days a year on the road suddenly put on hold, for the first time in over a decade, John was home.
“With newfound pain coming from so many directions, dealing with the uncertainty it brings, I closed the curtains and picked up the pen, turning to songwriting as a lifeline.”
John’s new album “The Fray” gives us an uplifting perspective on the path forward, while reflecting on some of the difficulties we face along the way. The latest single “Eye To Eye” is a plea for understanding and features a beautiful vocal from Sarah Jarosz.
“It’s about the desire to hold someone’s gaze and feel a sense of belonging; to stand alongside our loved ones without a trace of fear or hesitation.”
The Treeline are a relatively new band from Norfolk County in Ontario. “Little Bit Of Love” was recorded live off the floor (or should that be ‘off the grass’?) last fall at an outdoor gig at a local brewery. We’re looking forward to hearing a full album by the band.
This episode’s instrumental comes from Irish-American multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan with the banjo and guitar-driven “6 then 5” from his first solo album in 23 years, the all-instrumental “Early Bright”. The all-instrumental album is a fine collection of tunes he developed with support from guitarist Kyle Sanna, New England bouzouki player Owen Marshall, vocalist/accordionist Moira Smiley, bassist Joe Phillips, and Juno award-winners The Fretless String Quartet, with string arrangements by Scottish harpist Maeve Gilchrist.
Joy Zimmerman‘s new single “We’ll Hold The Light” is a beautiful tribute to front-line health care workers. Joy sat down with her partner who works in healthcare for a home ‘interview’ to create a song that honours the commitment of the medical community to keep people safe.
Toronto singer-songwriter Larry Folk describes his latest single “A Hit of Love” as what songwriters refer to as a gift.
“I woke up at 3 am with what I thought was a brilliant line for a lyric, ‘If love became the source of wings, we’d chose to never walk again.’ Of course, I knew I had to get up to write it down or it would have been lost. Back in bed, trying to get back to sleep, the melody and lyrics for this song came to me. I had to get up again and write it down so I didn’t lose it. Next day, I took a look at the lyrics. It was ridiculous. Which happens. But the melody and short lyrics worked. I started working it up, and a couple of hours later I pretty much had it done. What I was hearing as a verse the night before became the chorus of the song. The verses pretty much flowed easily, based on the monotony of the Covid lockdown and accompanying drudgery we are all too familiar with. After recording the demo video, my good friend and talented musician Mike Racioppa contacted me and offered to add drums, organ and keys to the mix. As usual, his parts are a wonderful addition to the final.”
After focusing on country, pop, and jazz in recent years, Larry will be returning to his folk roots on his forthcoming EP “Embracing Folk” (his seventh album).
Philadelphia singer-songwriter Lizanne Knott‘s pandemic single “This Old World” is a song about finding meaning and keeping hope in challenging times.
“This time on our planet, in our lives has been very isolating. Covid has pushed us into our own little worlds, changed our ways of interacting and so greatly affected the artistic and music communities among others. We’ve all had to shift our way of thinking and dig deeper to find some meaning to our days. I wrote this song to express my way of coping and staying grateful in an ever-changing landscape. The sunset, in its colorful “kaleidoscope’ display, the lighthearted sway of the trees in the breeze making my heart dance, and the way I’ve spent so much of my life keeping my heart hidden under the guise of a false sense of protection. I wanted to convey a whimsical moment of just feeling in love with being alive and having renewed hope for whatever is coming next around the bend. I hope this song lightens your troubles and makes you smile.”
Jaime Michaels with his powerful single “In My Home” actually started out as a song about the Iraq war that appeared on his 2003 album “Wicked Dreams Second Chances”. With a chorus that already described a world that is forever changed, it has now been rewritten to reflect the world shutting down for the pandemic we are all living through.
“This song actually started out as a song called “Here In My Home”. Written at the height of the Iraq war, it contained war imagery of people trapped in cities that were exploding around them. Fast forward to this year and the pandemic we are living through. I began singing the chorus to myself one day and realized that the song could fit these times, too. A second section was added to the verse structure and the verse lyrics rewritten.”
Identical twins David and Adam Moss make music together as The Brother Brothers. Their close harmony single “On The Road Again” is an ode to the joys of being on tour – something that many artists are missing during these strange Covid times. You’ll be able to find it on their forthcoming album “Calla Lily”.
Leamington ON singer-songwriter Francine Honey, like all of us had big plans for the past year. “Can’t Press Reset” is her take on the impact the pandemic has had not just on her personally but the world generally.
“We are all working towards goals. For me, being a single mother and sole provider for my children, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a burden for my children and would be able to retire with financial security, and 2020 was the year I had been working towards. I had all kinds of dreams and plans for what would happen, what I would do when I retired. And like all of us, those goals were instantly dashed when “the world, the whole year and all our plans went down the tubes.”
Luke Concannon is a singer-songwriter from the UK who is now living in Vermont in the US. His latest single “Doing Nothing” comes from his latest album “Ecstatic Bird In The Burning”. It’s a lighthearted song that namechecks Ed Sheeran, who was a fan of Luke’s former folk duo “Nizlopi”.
It focuses on something we can all identify with, especially during Covid lockdown when distracting yourself from what is going on in the wider world, rather than working, feels more like the order of the day. Things like watching one more TV show or movie, playing one more video game or checking out social media just a little bit more. Well, that’s my life anyway!
Luke has just released his latest album “Ecstatic Bird In The Burning” which is available in both acoustic and electric formats and tackles some of the overarching challenges facing our world.
“Music can have a huge impact on the way we interact with the world. I really believe this is a way that we can change things, and why music is held so close to many of our hearts. So the more we share community, song, creativity and presence with each other, the better chance we have of finding our way out of the storms we navigate. The Ecstatic bird in the new album title, is one in love with the world, despite its being on fire. Maybe especially with it being on fire. Compassion for ourselves, compassion for each other.”
“Jumped in the Humber” was dropped at the last minute from Jerry Leger‘s critically acclaimed 2019 album “Time Out For Tomorrow”, though Jerry Leger held it back for possible release at a later date.
One indigenous name for the Humber River, “Niwa’ah Onega’gaih’ih,” “Little Thundering Waters”, might sum up the atmosphere of the track. It has a moody, powerful sound and tempo that supports foreboding lyrics like “You’re hired if you know how to drive /can you gun this sucker to the deep Eastside.” The opening lyric, “Jumped in the Humber, or was he pushed” makes one sit up in their seat on first listen.
“Jellybean” is a fan favourite and singalong staple from Justin Rutledge‘s live show. You’ll be able to find it on his forthcoming compilation “Islands”. The new album features songs from the eight albums he has produced so far and re-recorded in the way they were originally conceived: alone, with minimal accompaniment – as if you’re sitting in the kitchen with Justin as the songs are composed.
Jellybean isn’t quite so stripped down as it also includes some friends who lent their voices to give the song that live singalong feel.
“I’ve always been cautious about recording Jellybean on an album because it is such a ‘live’ song. I’ve tried a few times in the past, but it never made the cut. I think I finally captured the essence of the song with this recording.”
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.
Stay safe and well everyone. We will get through this.
Image: Free Photos from Pixabay.
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)
By Your Side (Sade)
(single) (2021, Fantasy Records)
Eye To Eye (feat. Sarah Jarosz)
The Fray (2021, Thirty Tigers)
Little Bit Of Love (Live)
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
6 Then 5
Early Bright (2019, Self) CDN
We’ll Hold The Light
(single) (2021, Cultivate Joy Records)
This Old World
(single) (2020, Self)
A Hit Of Love
Embracing Folk (2021, Self) CDN
In My Home
(single) (2021, Frumdahart)
Can’t Press Reset
(single) (2020, Self) CDN
Ecstatic Bird In The Burning (2021, The Movement)
The Brother Brothers
On The Road Again
Calla Lily (2021, Compass Records)
Jumped In The Humber
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
Islands (2021, Outside Music) CDN
I Know What Love Is (Because Of You) (feat. Zac Brown, Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall & More)
(single) (2021, Nettwerk)