Folk Roots Radio Episode 570: feat. Sue Smith – Tonight We Sail & More International Women’s Day

Folk Roots Radio Episode 570: feat. Sue Smith - Tonight We Sail & More International Women's Day

Guelph ON based singer-songwriter Sue Smith joins us on Episode 570 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about “Tonight We Sail”, her wonderful new album with the Potion Kings. A fabulous recording, it features a gorgeous blend of rock, jazz, blues and roots. It’s sure to figure in our favourite albums of 2021. We wrap up the rest of the episode with more music from female artists as we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day, and this time around we feature Tekla Waterfield & Jeff Fielder, Cinder Well, Loryn Taggart, Laura Mulcahy, Sarah McQuaid and Sloan Wainwright. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020


“Tonight We Sail”, Sue Smith‘s sixth album features 11 songs; nine originals plus a song each by Tom Petty (“Swingin'”) and Robbie Robertson (The Band’s “Ophelia”). The original band sessions for the project were recorded live off the floor at Scott Merritt’s studio, The Cottage in Guelph ON. The album was produced by Sue Smith with partner Jeff Bird.

“My songs included here were written between 1993 – 2017, covering a lot of biographical & geographical territory. Although unplanned, more than a few of them are set in the context of the evening, the dark night, starry skies, moonlit water, alone on the road, lost or searching or found, travelling home or heading out past the sunset, arriving to dawn after the longest night.”

The album has a wonderful groove and a jazzy-buesy-folky sort of sound, and features Sue Smith on vocals (and organ on several tracks) with support from the Potion Kings – a band that have developed a wonderful reputation for their stellar musicianship and ability to tip off a deep groove into an extended jam. Their Halloween and New Year’s Eve shows are the stuff of legends.

The Potion Kings are Jeff Bird on bass, Kevin Breit on guitar, Randall Coryell on drums and Howie Southwood on percussion. Also joining Sue and the band on the project are guest vocalists Nick Craine and Gwen Swick.

“The decision to record with the Potion Kings came about in a magical way and resulted in two days of recording in Scott Merritt’s studio known as the Cottage. There were no rehearsals. None needed. Singing my songs in the midst of the Potion Kings’ playing and arranging on the fly was a fantastic ride. They did what they do best: play together, invent, respond, create in a most mercurial way all in response to the elemental content of the song.”

“Since the recording sessions, my partner Jeff and I have been tending the project for three years; choosing the best takes, recording a few additional instruments, adding vocal harmonies, some by me and some by the magical Nick Craine and the ethereal Gwen Swick. Fine tuning the mixes and doing our utmost to honour the vibe of the original sessions.”

To say we love this album is a bit of an understatement… great songs, fantastic musicians and an amazing groove. What can we tell you – it’s a winner! They’ve really knocked this one out of the park.

Sue Smith & the Potion Kings will be playing a FREE live-streamed performance direct from the River Run Centre​ in Guelph ON on Friday March 26 at 8 p.m…. with special guest, Gwen Swick.

If you’d like to register for the livestream, all you need to do is sign up for the River Run Centre Spotlight newsletter. You can do that HERE. They’ll send you the link on the day of the show

More information about the music of Sue Smith, visit

Photo credit: Tom King

Show Notes

We started off the show with music and life partners Tekla Waterfield & Jeff Fielder bearing witness on “Let There Be”, a song that was actually written for graduating seniors in 2020. You can find it on their latest nine-track album, “Trouble In Time”.

American singer-songwriter Amelia Baker, who goes by the name Cinder Well, swapped California for Ireland to study Irish music. On this episode we play the title track from her critically acclaimed album “No Summer”.

Loryn Taggart, is a prairie-raised singer-songwriter now living in Toronto. Loryn’s song “The River” is all about making a big move internationally for love but discovering that it’s a one-way sacrifice. Ouch! It will appear on her debut album which is due out later this year

Irish singer-songwriter Laura Mulcahy always releases interesting songs. Her latest, “The Ballad Of Lucy Sands” is the title song to the film of the same name. It will appear on Laura’s upcoming third studio album “Sub Nubibus Margarita”.

The Ballad Of Lucy Sands is the story of young orphaned Irish girl Lucy who was brutally murdered while living with her grandmother in Workington Cumbria in 1881. Her body was found under a pile of cobblestones by the side of a road. Although a local road mender was suspected, no one was held accountable. As Laura says… “Lucy lies in a cemetery; no headstone, nothing to remember her by… other than an old court case and papers held in the national archives.”

This episode’s instrumental is “The Day Of Wrath, That Day” by English singer-songwriter Sarah McQuaid. It’s from her new video and audio project, The St. Buryan Sessions which were recorded live in the historic St Buryan’s Church in Cornwall England.

“The Day Of Wrath, That Day appeared on my Michael Chapman-produced 2018 album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous. Before that album, I’d never played electric guitar – it wasn’t something that would even have occurred to me. It was totally down to Michael. We were staying at his house during one of my tours, and he produced this lovely red Ibanez Artist, plugged it into an amp and said – Try playing this.”

We wrap the episode with a new Covid tune, “In Times Like These”, from Sloan Wainwright. Written with her friend Jan Garrett, it’s a song about coping with our inner and outer landscapes during the time of the pandemic.

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)

Tekla Waterfield & Jeff Fielder
Let There Be
Trouble In Time (2021, Self)

Cinder Well
No Summer
No Summer (2020, Free Dirt Records)

Loryn Taggart
The River
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Laura Mulcahy
The Ballad Of Lucy Sands
(single) (2021, Self)

Sarah McQuaid
The Day Of Wrath, That Day
The St. Buryan Sessions (2021, A Shovel & A Spade Records)

Sue Smith with the Potion Kings
Night Skies
Together We Sail (2021, Self) CDN

Interview: Sue Smith discussing “Together We Sail”, her new album with the Potion Kings.

Sue Smith with the Potion Kings
If I Am Sleeping
Together We Sail (2021, Self) CDN

Sue Smith with the Potion Kings
Met Him On A Train
Together We Sail (2021, Self) CDN

Sloan Wainwright
In Times Like These
Red Maple Tree (2021, Self)

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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