We’re all about the music again on Episode 575 of Folk Roots Radio as we hold back the interviews to bring you another Covid Times edition of the show featuring a great selection of new releases, with some Covid tunes, and social justice songs added into the mix. Join us for music from Tiffany Williams, The Rainbow Snakes, Rocks & Salt, The Promise Is Hope, Jarkka Rissanen & Sons Of The Desert, Amythyst Kiah, Tony Joe White, Fox and Bones, Michael Menegon, Paul Hoffman, Susan & Ray, Charlie Barnett, Melanie Peterson, Chris Ronald, Craig Cardiff, Sue Smith with the Potion Kings. Check out the full playlist below.
We decided to subtitle this Covid Times episode of Folk Roots Radio the “Be Mindful Edition” because we’re sure that we’re not the only ones wishing that these strange pandemic times could just be over. The good news is that (at least where we are) the vaccines are starting to roll out, and people are feeling more optimistic that a return to some sort of normal can’t be too far away. But lockdowns are still having to happen, and there are now new Covid variants to be concerned about. This is why being mindful is a good idea. Personal and community pandemic control measures are likely to be in place for a while yet, even after most of the population is vaccinated. Like all of life’s challenges, being mindful or ‘living in the moment will help us get through this difficult period. Wise advice for pandemic times and beyond.
Tiffany Williams wrote “Ticket To The Moon” with fellow Nashville duo My One & Only. It’s the story of love unfulfilled – holding on to a failing relationship in the hope that things will finally turn out all right. You can find it on Tiffany’s lockdown EP “I’ll Be Back Soon”.
“I’ll Be Back Soon was born in the isolation of quarantine, when I sought and found sonic companionship with my co-writers and friends. This album was cathartic for me. In a time when our collective and personal pain was laid bare in our laps, these songs reminded me that music is holy communion and that we’re all less alone because of it.”
The Rainbow Snakes are a quite mysterious folk/Americana band. It’s very hard to find any real information about the band online. They seem to produce good singles, though. One of their latest, “The Soul In The Son” is all about the lessons we learn in hard times.
“In times of hardship, we strive to understand why bad things can happen, what our role is and how we can take responsibility for ourselves so we can strive to make the world a better place. By looking within we find forgiveness and understanding, learning from the past and transforming our worlds to one of love, community and unity knowing that we are loved and supported in our collective journey.”
Jared Griffin (guitar, vocals) and Nicole Ridgwell (fiddle, vocals ) bonded over their love of old-school blues, country, gospel, and Americana and now play together as San Francisco-based roots duo Rocks & Salt. Their song “Poor Lazarus” is taken from their forthcoming album “Serpentine”.
Massachusetts-based Ash and Eric L’Esperance make music together as The Promise Is Hope. “Until My Heart Grows Quiet” is a song about wanderlust, and the desire to run away from challenging situations – especially if you can find that special someone to escape with. We’re sure we’re not alone in wishing that we could run away from this pandemic right about now.
This episode’s instrumental comes from Finland’s Jarkka Rissanen & Sons Of The Desert. The bluesy guitar number “Tomcat” will appear on their forthcoming album “Cargo”.
“Black Myself” is the title of Our Native Daughters Amythyst Kiah‘s latest album. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best American Roots Song and won Song of the Year at the 2019 Folk Alliance International Awards.
We lost the late great Tony Joe White in 2018. Sorting through his father’s things after his death, his son Jody discovered some fine solo home recordings that never made it on an album. After converting the demos to digital files, they made their way to producer Dan Auerbach (from The Black Keys) who gave them the band treatment with a fine group of studio musicians. They are now out in the world as the nine-track posthumous album “Smoke From The Chimney”.
Sarah Vitort and Scott Gilmore are Fox and Bones, a Portland folk/Americana duo. “Changing Of The Guard” is the first single from their forthcoming album “American Alchemy”.
Toronto singer-songwriter Michael Menegon‘s second album in four years “Time Is Now” was born out of challenging times.
“I wrote these personal stories of love in defiance to the obstacles in my life. They are a search for the positive in the negative, the love amongst the anger and light against the dark, and they represent the times that have been thrust upon us over the past four years. Releasing ‘Time is Now’ is kind of a personal accomplishment and I am buoyed by the current fight against the old-school, preconceived perceptions of what is possible. The third album is already in its infancy.”
On this episode, we play “Connected…Not The Same”, an ode to our universal connectedness, and the uniqueness of our individuality. As befits a song like this it was written while floating on a northern Ontario lake under the star-filled midnight sky. It’s a fantastic song and comes with a beautiful video.
Paul Hoffman is a listener to Folk Roots Radio and a small town therapist in East Greenwich RI. He’s also a songwriter – and though retired from live performance he still loves to pick up the guitar to play. Paul reached out to us with the beautiful title track from his 1989 album “Canopy” as he thought it would fit in rather nicely on a Covid Times all-music episode.
“I performed part-time from 1989-2004, recorded one studio album and two live albums. In 2004, I was tired of all the traveling, switched gears, and created a little show called Love Songs of the Swing Era, which I performed for another 10 years. Then in 2015 I had aortic valve surgery, bought a Telecaster, and have been practicing blues soloing ever since.”
If there are songs you think we should be playing on Folk Roots Radio, please get in touch through the website. As each episode is curated, and there is only so much space to fill – we cannot guarantee airplay, but we would love to hear from you.
Susan & Ray (Susan J Berman & Ray Saunders) are from Nantucket. Their single “Time To Listen” is a song about racial injustice and the hurt and anger that many people feel.
“The song was inspired by recent incidents of racial injustice including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. I am hurting. Our whole country is hurting. As a white person, I knew there was a lot I didn’t know or understand about what it was like to be black or brown in America. The musical phrase “Time to Listen” echoed in my head for over a week before I realized one thing I could do is write a song. Writing gave me an outlet for some of the hurt and anger I was feeling. It has also encouraged me to listen more, the most important path we have toward achieving racial equality in this country.”
Maryland’s Charlie Barnett has released a lovely version of the classic “Smile”, which was originally an instrumental by Charlie Chaplin and used in the 1936 movie Modern Times before lyrics were added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954. And you can find it on Charlie Barnett’s solo album “All By His Own Self”.
“Last year, I was asked, or more accurately challenged, to put on a solo show at a theatre. I have written a lot of music in my life. Almost all of it has been for other singers, orchestras, choirs, Broadway shows, and films. Very little of the music I have written has been written with me in mind as the performer. This was something new. Or perhaps this was very old, thinking back to my first years in music when my main instrument was banjo and I sang folk songs. I accepted the challenge and began fashioning a solo show by culling material from the thousands of pieces of music that I have either written or simply loved. I was surprised at how easily I came “home” to folk songs and spirituals as the musical pillars that would hold this show up. I chose the original songs of mine that would best be termed singer-songwriter. Earlier this year, while I had all this material under my fingers I went into the recording studio with my friend Greg Watkins and we quickly recorded this album.”
Toronto singer-songwriter and actor Melanie Peterson recorded her latest EP “We Got This” with Mitch Girio, giving it more of a pop feel than her previous efforts, to complement the romantic nature of the songs.
“My hope for this EP is that people find the songs relatable to their own romantic experiences. With this album, producer Mitch Girio and I took another step away from folk and moved closer to pop – building on what we started with my previous folk-pop EP ‘TWO. We added some lush string arrangements (written by Mitch and played by Alex McMaster on cello, Jill Daley on violin, and Amanda Penner on viola) that I think add another layer of romance to the songs.”
On this episode, we play “Tightrope” which although written pre-pandemic, has a message that Melanie describes as more universal and relatable than ever.
“City Girl” is the first single from Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Chris Ronald‘s forthcoming album “Light & Dark” (expected in August). It features Chris Ronald on vocals and acoustic guitar with support from producer John Ellis on mandolin and pedal steel and Chris Nordquist on drums. As far as the story behind the song is concerned, Chris Ronald spent three years living in London, England, before he and his wife quit their jobs to travel the world, finally landing in Canada. We suspect that this song is how he pitched the idea of exploring the world to his wife.
Inspired by first kisses and late-night bonfires, Craig Cardiff‘s “Emm & May” is a fun reflection on the joys of youthful summertime romance. You can find it on his new album “All This Time Running”.
We closed out the episode with Guelph ON’s Sue Smith with the Potion Kings and “Church Of Beauty” from their brilliant new album “Tonight We Sail”. We told Sue during our recent interview (which you can find elsewhere on this website), that this song deserved radio play even if it’s over six minutes long. The vocal delivery, the incredible band performance – it’s truly fabulous. The perfect way to wrap things up.
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)
Ticket To The Moon
I’ll Be Back Soon (2021, Blue Redbird Records)
The Rainbow Snakes
The Soul In The Son
(single) (2020, Self)
Rocks & Salt
(single) (2021, Self)
The Promise Is Hope
Until My Heart Grows Quiet
(single) (2020, Self)
Jarkka Rissanen & Sons Of The Desert
(single) (2020, Humu Records)
(single) (2021, Rounder Records)
Tony Joe White
Smoke From The Chimney (2021, Easy Eye Sound)
Fox and Bones
Changing Of The Guard
(Single) (2021, Dutch Records)
Connected…Not The Same
Time Is Now (2020, Self) CDN
Canopy (1989, Self)
Susan & Ray
Time To Listen
(single) (2020, Self)
All By His Own Self (2020, Modern Songbook Records)
We Got This EP (2020, Self) CDN
(single) (2021, Borealis Records) CDN
Emm & May
All This Time Running (2021, True North Records) CDN
Sue Smith with the Potion Kings
Church Of Beauty
Tonight We Sail (2021, Self) CDN