We’re pleased to bring you another hour of great new music on Episode 585 of Folk Roots Radio. Join us for new releases from Rob Lutes, String Bone, Geoff Samuels, Maria Muldaur with Tuba Skinny, Duane Andrews & Donald MacLennan, Black Umfolosi, Chris Pierce, Adrian Sutherland & Midnight Shine, Del Barber, Georgia Lee Johnson, Rachelle van Zanten and Kelly’s Lot. We wrap up the hour with a musical tribute to the fabulous blues singer-songwriter and awesome slide player Ellen McIlwaine who sadly left us recently. Check out the full playlist below.
Quebec based singer-songwriter Rob Lutes released his eighth solo album, the pandemic inspired “Come Around”, earlier this year. Co-produced with long-time collaborator Rob MacDonald, it’s the follow up to “Walk In The Dark”, our favourite album of 2017. Reflecting on the challenging times we’re currently living through, the new recording features eleven original songs alongside a cover of traditional gospel song “In My Time Of Dyin”’.
Stratford ON Americana/folk singer-songwriter Barry James Payne who makes music under the monicker String Bone has released a great new version of the Ferron classic and one of his (and my) favourite songs “Ain’t Life A Brook”. Barry James Payne recently joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat his career in music and adjusting to a rapidly changing industry with the growth of online music streaming, and, of course, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find that interview HERE.
Geoff Samuels from Margaretville NY has released a great Covid tune, “Prayin’ For The Good Times”, a reflection on the on-going pandemic.
“Looking forward to gatherings was one of the more pleasant aspects of my life, but not anymore. Since the pandemic set in, I started to think the good times I had had with family and friends were over, never to be repeated. There I would sit, alone in my house, feeling completely cut off from the rest of the world.
Only out of necessity would I venture to other places, and those ventures were fraught with peril. There were times when I thought people around me acted with reckless abandon, not wearing a mask or standing too close, not seeming to care about their own lives or mine.
And the news from the media was always horrific. How many more people would half to die before it was over? It made me feel so helpless, and I felt that all anyone could do is pray. And thus “Prayin’ for the Good Times” was written.”
First Lady of Roots Music, six times Grammy nominee Maria Muldaur has released “Let’s Get Happy Together”, a great new album of vintage jazz and blues from the 1920s/’30s which was recorded with New Orleans based street band Tuba Skinny,
“A couple of years ago, while shopping in my favorite Woodstock, NY, clothing store, I heard the most wonderful vintage jazz joyously floating through the air! “How cool that the local radio station is playing this kind of music,” I remarked to the shop owner, who informed me that we were not listening to the radio, but some CDs of a band called Tuba Skinny. Having studied, enjoyed, and immersed myself in early blues, jazz, and jug band music of the ‘20s and ‘30s all of my musical life, I found it almost impossible to believe we were not listening to some classic old 78s from the era, but instead to a band of young street musicians! I just knew I had to play and record with them”.
The title track was written by Louis Armstrong’s first wife Lil Hardin Armstrong. I knew when I found it, that it had to be the title of the album. Little did I realize that as the pandemic cast its gloom over our lives, how very much the world would need a dose of this music”.
Newfoundland’s Duane Andrews (guitar) and Nova Scotia’s Donald MacLennan (violin) have released a great homage to Django Reinhart, “L’Aeroport”. The tune was actually composed by Donald MacLennan while he was on the way to the airport in Halifax to pick Duane up for a tour. The tune was coming together in his head so well, he actually had to pull over and pull out his violin to finish it up. The released version of the song was actually taken from a November 2015 live performance at Halifax’s Fort Massey United Church. There’s no news as to whether Donald was late for the airport pickup.
Zimbabwe’s Black Umfolosi, who in a normal summer would be out on the festival circuit, have released their version of PEI poet and singer-songwriter Bob Jensen’s “A Thousand Ways To Love The Careless Moon”. It’s the first single from their upcoming album, “Reason to Believe – Songs from the Poetry of Bob Jensen”.
Attawapiskat ON’s Adrian Sutherland and his band Midnight Shine have released the single “Survivor”, a song written to honour the survivors of Canada’s residential school system. You can find it on their 2018 album “High Road”.
After the horrific discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at schools in both B.C. and Sask. with more expected to be discovered across Canada, it’s a timely new release. There really are no words to describe these atrocities – it’s a true cultural genocide. A full reckoning of what went on in the Canadian residential school system has to happen. Until then, truth and reconciliation are just meaningless. Canada’s indigenous peoples deserve so much better.
It’s not just a Canadian issue. You can check out L.A.-based singer-songwriter Chris Pierce‘s powerful song “Residential School” from his very well-received 2021 social justice album “American Silence”.
Manitoba’s Del Barber is getting ready to release a new album “Stray Dogs (Collected B-Sides Volume 1)”, the follow-up to the Juno nominated Easy Keeper, one of our favourite albums of 2019. A true pandemic-inspired album, Stray Dogs finds Del revisiting some unfinished demos with longtime band and producer Scott Fanchuk. That this album of misfits holds together so well is a testament to the enduring quality of his songwriting.
“When the pandemic began I was lost, scared about the future, and in the depths of an unprecedented creative slump. I’ve written every other record with a tight vision, a thesis, a picture in mind, subject matter chosen. I’ve written them all with what I thought was a clear narrative thread. This record, however, is a group of songs that ended up together but were never intended to live together — a funny looking pack of stray dogs, different shapes, different pictures, whose differences give them their personality as a whole.”
British Columbia singer-songwriter Georgia Lee Johnson released “January Mind” earlier this year. It’s a recording that weaves together influences from England, Ireland, and Appalachia with a little Joni Mitchell thrown into the mix. On this episode, we play “Like The Sun”.
Staying in B.C., mountain biking blues-rocker Rachelle van Zanten has released a wonderful new slide tune “Kelli Likes To Ride”. It’s also a tribute to one of her favourite riders, the legendary Kelli Sherbinin.
Kelly’s Lot from California has released a new album of original and traditional acoustic blues, “Where and When”. Lead singer Kelly Zirbes and guitarist Perry Robertson brought in Doug Pettibone to produce and play some lead guitar, with David Grover on bass. On this episode we play their original “Stronger”, a hopeful song to get us through these trying times.
We wrapped up the episode with three tracks from blues singer-songwriter and slide player Ellen McIlwaine who sadly passed away recently. Born in the US, Ellen moved to Canada in 1987, first to Toronto before settling in Alberta. A festival favourite, and highly regarded for both her songwriting and musicianship, Ellen played a mean slide guitar. She will be missed.
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)
Come Around (2021, Lucky Bear Records) CDN
Ain’t Life A Brook
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
Prayin’ For The Good Times
(single) (2021, Self)
A Thousand Ways To Love The Careless Moon
(single) (2001, Self)
American Silence (2021, Self)
Adrian Sutherland & Midnight Shine
High Road (2018, Midnight Shine Music) CDN
Stray Dogs (Collected B-Sides Volume 1) (2021, Acronym Records) CDN
Georgia Lee Johnson
Like The Sun
January Mind (2021, Self) CDN
Rachelle van Zanten
Kelli Likes To Ride
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
Where and When (2021, Self)
Up From The Skies: The Polydor Years (1998, Polydor)
Can’t Find My Way Home (1972)
Up From The Skies: The Polydor Years (1998, Polydor)