We’re pleased to bring you another selection of the best new releases on Episode 586 of Folk Roots Radio. There is loads of great music out there at the moment as many artists have been using their time off the road during Covid times to come up with some wonderful new songs. Join us for music from The Accidentals, The Levins, Robin & Linda Williams, Jani Lauzon, Noel Paul Stookey, The Advocate Collective, Moors & McCumber, Steel Rail, Lennie Gallant, Yael Wand, The Strange Valentines, Charlie Mosbrook and Peggy Seeger. As always, if you like what you hear and want to support the artists, don’t just stream their music – buy their music and then you’ll really make a difference to the artists during this difficult time when live shows are hard to come by. Check out the full playlist below.
The Accidentals are a female-fronted trio featuring Sav Buist, Katie Larson and Michael Dause. After the coronavirus pandemic curtailed their 200 gigs a year tour schedule, they ended up spending their time off the road writing new material with the likes of Kim Richey, Tom Paxton, Dar Williams and Mary Gauthier. On this episode, we play “All Shall Be Well”, a song about living through strange times that they wrote with Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris. You can find it on their co-write EP, “Time Out Session 1”. The Accidentals will be releasing “Vessel”, the album that they were working on before the pandemic hit, later this year.
“Thanks to the pandemic, we were quarantined in the attic of our house, working on our forthcoming “Vessel” album while trying out different streaming options. Sav started keeping a journal of “what worked and what didn’t”. That journal was passed around the industry and suddenly we were sharing on panels and getting calls to help artists that we love with their live-streaming. A lot of the co-writes came from that connection. We didn’t realize at the time that the songs we were writing were helping us process this time. Looking back at these songs, it’s clearer, the questioning, the fear, the weight, the heightened appreciation for everything, the hope, the relief. It’s all there, in each capture of a moment, a diary of sorts. These songs felt so real, and so compelling”.
Husband and wife Ira and Julia Levin make music together as The Levins. Their latest single “Across The Miles” is a song of appreciation they wrote for an anniversary. It’s a reminder of how, as we grow up and leave home to move on with our lives, we miss the way things were – but don’t always find the time to say how much the time we spent with our parents actually meant to us.
“A Better Day A-Coming” is the first single from Robin & Linda Williams’ forthcoming album of the same name, their twenty-fourth recording and first album since 2013. It comes during a period of transition – giving up the eight-acre farm they’ve lived on for 42 years in exchange for life in the city and dropping their road band to return to their roots as a duo.
“We had songs we wanted people to hear but we couldn’t figure out how to get them recorded. Then Linda had the idea to call Kevin McNoldy. We had worked with him on several CDs in the ‘90s and early 2000s and knew we’d feel comfortable with him. Luckily, Kevin was interested from the beginning. After several phone calls, the decision was made to check out how things sounded in the house we had just moved into. It has a 30’ x 10’ living room with a 10-foot ceiling and brick and plaster walls, the street has minimal traffic and the neighbours are quiet. We decided our new living room would work as a studio.”
A Better Day A-Coming is a song that works on two levels. A Covid tune, and it also takes a story from the past to reflect on a racial reckoning that still needs to occur in the United States.
“We were reading about Frederick Douglas who escaped slavery as a young man from a plantation on the Chesapeake Bay. The ships he saw on the water and the birds in the air represented the freedom he longed for and finally achieved. – ‘If I could soar through the sky/To your safe mast I would fly/From these captive shores take wing/To hear the winds of freedom sing.’”
This episode’s instrumental “Stolen” comes from singer-songwriter, actress, puppeteer and filmmaker Jani Lauzon. It was written to remember her father’s experience in Canada’s residential school system. You can find it on her 2007 album “Mixed Blessings” which was produced by Ken Whiteley – a very moving return to her indigenous roots, that strongly featured women’s voices, hand drum and wooden flute while also including contributions from renowned musicians like George Koller, Evelyn Datl and Roman Borys.
“Contemplating my return to the studio after taking time off to raise my daughter, I couldn’t shake the experience of singing with aboriginal women gathered around the drum. Transforming our stories into music is hugely rewarding. These songs are prayers, giving thanks for our survival despite great challenges”.
Noel Paul Stookey – that’s Paul from Peter Paul & Mary has just released “Just Cause”, a 15-song compilation of new and old songs, tied to social concerns. Each song on the album is paired with an appropriate charity to benefit from the proceeds raised by the project. On this episode we play “In These Times”, a call for action to protect the natural world, that will benefit The Nature Conservancy.
We’ve been fans of multi-instrumentalists James Moors (Superior, WI) and Kort McCumber (Gold Hill, CO), who make music as Moors & McCumber, for a number of years now. We love their songwriting, musicianship and harmonies – they are like a latter-day Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They’ve just released their seventh studio album “Survival”, which was produced by Patrick Conway (Austin, TX) and features 10 original Moors & McCumber songs with support from Patrick Conway, Dees Stribling, Erin Ivey, Katie Marie (all from Austin, TX), Tom Delany (County Kerry, Ireland) and The Fiddle Case (County Clare, Ireland).
The Advocate Collective has released a great version of Cheryl Wheeler’s 1999 song about gun control, “If It Were Up To Me” and never more timely for a US that seems awash in guns. The song was produced by Joe Crookston, who also plays electric guitar, slide guitar and banjo with Pat Wictor also contributing some electric guitar and Lilli Lewis, some piano. Vocalists on the song are Aaron Parnell Brown, Andy Rogovin, Beth Wood, Crys Matthews, Danielle Miraglia, Erik Balkey, Genevieve, Joe Crookston, Kim Moberg, Lilli Lewis, Lisa Bastoni, Monique Byrne, Mya Byrne, Neale Eckstein, Pat Wictor, Rod MacDonald, Tom Prasada-Rao, Tret Fure and Vance Gilbert. Despite having so many voices involved, it hangs together rather well.
Montreal folk grass trio Steel Rail – who specialize in tight three-part harmonies and an original blend of folk, bluegrass and country, have released a new single. “Kate’s Song” was written by bass player Ellen Shizgal – who has been making music with Tod Gorr and Dave Clarke for over 25 years. You can find it on their very well-received 2020 album “Coming Home”.
“I wrote “Kate’s Song” after I saw Kate McGarrigle perform shortly before her death. When I saw footage of people singing after a devastating earthquake, I knew I had to write about humankind’s ability to find comfort in music in the darkest of times. We’re releasing Kate’s Song as a single now since its message of hope and resilience seems appropriate for what is happening as North America opens up after COVID.”
The title track from Prince Edward Island singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant‘s latest album, “Time Travel” (2018), has just been given an international release to celebrate Lennie tying the knot with his partner and duet vocalist, Patricia Richard. A love song about life in complex times (which also features the Canadian string quartet, The Fretless), the release is certainly timely.
“Time travel explores our séjour on this planet on many levels. It touches on our relationships with each other and our world in a time of upheaval and turmoil in our personal and collective lives. We live in a climate of contradictions, where we are told the universe is expanding and while we are getting more and more information pertaining to it, we realize how little we really know. It seems love is the only constant that one can really hang time on these days.”
Yael Wand is back making music again after time off for motherhood and other life stuff. On this episode we play the beautiful ukulele-driven “Navigate By Stars” from her fourth album, “Saltwater”, her first since 2009.
“My original intention for this record was to record these songs as a bookmark of the transitions that I underwent over the past 10 years. Transitions of home and community, my role in life, my relationships, even my age. In late 2019, I enlisted musicians and friends Alan Kerr and Christina Zaenker to help me. We drove up to Corwin Fox’s Hidden Well Studio in Cumberland, BC with the intent of creating a more or less, live off the floor album – quick, raw, rustic and authentic.”
David Farrell and Janet Smith from Nova Scotia make music together as The Strange Valentines. They’ve just released their latest album – the live off the floor, and wonderfully titled “Does Anyone Know How to Fix Old Radios?”. On this episode we play “So Long”, a song with a strong environmental message.
“The Joy Of Seeing You Smile” is another song of hope as we come out of Covid Times. You can find it on North-East Ohio singer-songwriter Charlie Mosbrook‘s pandemic album “Together Alone”.
We wrapped the episode with Peggy Seeger and “We Are Here”, a duet with her son Calum McColl about the dangers of social media addiction and how we can easily forget the simple pleasures of ‘living in the moment’. You can find it on Peggy’s latest album, the critically acclaimed “First Farewell”, which at 86, is likely to be her last solo album of original music.
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)
All Shall Be Well
Time Out Session 1 (2021, Sel
Across The Miles
(single) (2021, Summersongs Unlimited)
Robin & Linda Williams
A Better Day A-Coming
(single) (2021, Self)
Mixed Blessings (2007, Self) CDN
Noel Paul Stookey
In These Times
Just Causes (2021, Neworld Multimedia)
The Advocate Collective
If It Were Up To Me
(single) (2021, Hudson Harding Music)
Moors & McCumber
The Mess We’re In
Survival (2021, Self)
Coming Home (2020, Crossties Music) CDN
Time Travel (2018, Self) CDN
Navigate By Stars
Saltwater (2021, Self) CDN
The Strange Valentines
Does Anyone Know How to Fix Old Radios? (2021, Self) CDN
The Joy Of Seeing You Smile
Together Alone (2021, Self)
We Are Here (feat. Calum McColl)
First Farewell (2021, Red Grape Music)