Folk Roots Radio Episode 587: We’re All About The Music! (When Life Gives You Lemons Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 587: We're All About The Music! (When Life Gives You Lemons Edition)

We’re pleased to bring you another hour of great new music on Episode 587 of Folk Roots Radio as we hold back the interviews to take a look at more of the latest new releases with some fine social justice songs thrown into the mix. This time around we hear from Flo Perlin, How We Led Our Lives, An Early Bird, Luke LeBlanc, Chris Coole with Mark Killanski, John Showman, Adrian Gross & Sam Allison; Diana Jones, Harpin’ Norm, Reid Jamieson, James Bruce Moore, Pierre Sabourin, Jabbour, The Slowinks, Sons Of The Never Wrong, Shawna Caspi and Moors & McCumber. As always, if you like what you hear on this show and want to support the artists – don’t just stream their music, BUY their music and you’ll really make a difference to their income during this difficult time, when it’s hard to find live shows. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020

Show Notes

A message from Jan Hall:

‘When life gives you lemons… make lemonade’.

Those of you reading these playlists on a regular basis will know that the subtitle for all our music episodes usually comes from one of the songs we’re playing during the hour. That is not always the case, but that is usually the way it works.

However, you won’t find the subtitle… ‘When life gives you lemons’ in any of the songs on this episode – although you wouldn’t be far wrong in thinking that it could be a sentiment behind one of the pandemic Covid tunes we love so much.

The subtitle for this episode actually reflects my own situation. Why? Because, unfortunately, I have been struggling with a Covid triggered health issue for the past couple of months that has severely impacted my energy level, and therefore my productivity – which will explain why I haven’t released any new interviews in a while.

Simply put, I have been dealing with a return of the chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia symptoms that led to the loss of my university veterinary career. That was fourteen years ago – unfortunately, associated with another virus I picked up – this time while teaching in Charlottetown.

Dealing with a health problem for that long means that you hopefully finally find out what works for you. In my case, that’s exercise, a carefully managed autoimmune protocol diet (AIP), and mindfulness meditation – and no medications.

I was actually doing absolutely brilliantly well until Covid intervened. So now – after a bit of a setback, I’m picking up the pieces again… and working hard to recover my usual self. I’m mostly there, though I do have the odd day or so where I can’t get anything done. With that in mind, it felt safer not to book anything I may have to postpone while I work on my radio …when I can.

So yes, life has given me lemons… and I’m making lemonade!

I’m hoping to be back to my dynamic self in the not too distant future. If you are dealing with your own health issue post-Covid, please accept my commiserations. Chronic health issues are never easy to deal with. Hopefully, it won’t be long until you, like me, get going completely again. Life is short – best not to waste a second of it! Stay tuned.

Back to the episode… we started off with Flo Perlin – a singer-songwriter from the UK with Belarusian and Iraqi heritage. Flo is getting ready to release her third contemporary folk release recording “Characters”, an album that reflects on different versions of Flo while exploring her life, relationships and roots. The songs in the project were written during a period of time when she was in and out of hospital while dealing with a challenging autoimmune disease. On this episode we play the first single “Back In Time”. It’s a great album. We’ll have more on a future episode.

It was a pleasant surprise to find new music from How We Led Our Lives in our inbox. Their single, “The Future Is Bright”, nearly didn’t get a spin because it came with so little information about the band. It did have a YouTube link, however, which lead to a wonderful animated video we immediately fell in love with – meaning we had to learn more about this mysterious band.

It turns out that they are a duo featuring lead songwriters, Rob Castro, from London in the UK, and Dominik Gryzbon from Trinidad, with artistic support from all over the world.

The Future Is Bright is based on the subject of the future and how quickly digital technology is changing our world – at least through the eyes of someone from ‘the older generation’.

Although we regard ourselves as pretty techy, we’re starting to feel that we might be slipping into that ‘older person’ category. We know what we like – and we know what we definitely don’t like, about a world where more and more people seem to be choosing life online rather than being in the present moment.

Italian singer-songwriter Stephano di Stephano makes music as folk-pop singer-songwriter An Early Bird. On this episode we play “Holding On To Hope” from his second full-length album “Diviner”.

“Diviner is probably the record that best describes my songwriting process. Each song on Diviner is the perfect piece of the music puzzle I wanted to create. It’s a positive record about love & life that strikes a chord and makes you think about your connection with people. It’s absolutely pop but in a rich full meaning with a blend of indie-folk and alternative elements and dreamy textures. If you can find the location of water or precious minerals you’re a diviner: this album aims to bring something special to the surface.”

Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Luke LeBlanc has released a great third album, “Only Human”, with a wonderful ‘heart on the sleeve’ jangly pop feel to it.

“The album touches on everything it means to be ‘only human’. In these songs, I dive into joy, loss, love, life in general – and the need to sometimes drive away from it all.”

The instrumental on this episode comes from the new old-time album “Adeline” produced by members of Lonesome Ace Stringband, The Slocan Ramblers, Golden Shoals and Sheesham & Lotus. That’s Chris Coole with Mark Killanski, John Showman, Adrian Gross & Sam Allison letting loose on 15 old-time fiddle tunes recorded during a three-day pandemic jam. You must check out the fun teaser video they produced for the project. It’s clear how much fun they were having after twelve months in musical quarantine.

Singer-Songwriter Diana Jones has built her career on telling stories of the dispossessed. Her latest album, “Song To A Refugee”, speaks for those often without a voice and encourages a humanitarian response to the refugee crisis around the world. On this episode we play the powerful “We Believe You” which features vocal support from Steve Earle, Richard Thompson and Peggy Seeger.

“The story of how the album came about really begins in 2016-17 when I was recovering from a serious illness caused by a gas leak in my apartment. Although my health was improving, artistically I felt at a loss. At the same time, I found the harsh reality of what was happening at the US-Mexican border particularly distressing; scenes of mothers separated from their children resonated with my own experience as an adopted child. My own need to ‘re-humanize’ the people who were being de-humanized by governments resulted in a flood of songs.”

One of the record’s strengths is Diana Jones ability to inhabit the characters about whom she is writing, from the woman walking miles to the US border carrying her child, to the young children separated from their parents fleeing their homeland, giving an immediacy to their stories while illuminating the more generic themes within.

Toronto singer-songwriter Harpin’ Norm‘s latest single “(Will You) Walk With Me” was written in response to the despicable running down of a Muslim family in London ON by a hate-filled white supremacist.

On June 6, the five family members were struck by a black truck. Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. The youngest member of the family survived.

Two powerful protest songs have been re-released to support indigenous rights after the discovery of mass grave sites at Residential Schools in Canada.

James Bruce Moore‘s powerful song “Residential School” comes from his 2011 album “Lisbeth”. Written ten years before the current crisis came to public attention, it’s dedicated to all indigenous survivors of a system that led to severe physical and sexual abuse, and profound loneliness – as well as the unspeakable atrocity of hundreds of children lying in unmarked graves. All at the behest of the state and churches intent on the forced assimilation of Canada’s First Nations.

Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Reid Jamieson has also re-released “It’s Not Enough (For The Missing And Murdered)”,  which was originally written for the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 2013.

One of the things we don’t do enough on Folk Roots Radio, is play songs by francophone artists. We hoped to remedy that on this episode with three songs, starting off with Franco-Albertan singer-songwriter Pierre Sabourin with “Gabrielle” – a song about a beautiful little girl who brightens the day for a new dad, and his first new music in fifteen years. A beautiful song it is too.

We also heard from Quebec bilingual folk band Jabbour, reflecting on the complexity of family relationships with “Dans ton café”, a song that was inspired by an interaction with a coffee machine at a funeral parlour. You can find it on their third album “Carling Lake”. “We see each other at weddings and funerals.. and say, we really must do this again some time… and yet, I don’t even know what you take in your coffee.”

We wrapped our francophone set with another bilingual band, Montreal’s The Slowinks who are mining a great country-swing seam. On this episode we play the francophone “Solange” from their debut, “Stay With Me Awhile”.

Sue Demel, Deborah Maris Lader and Bruce Roper make music together as Sons Of The Never Wrong. They are celebrating their 30th anniversary with their wonderful ninth studio release “Undertaker’s Songbook”. On this episode we play the gospel-tinged “Muddy Muddy River”.

Toronto singer-songwriter Shawna Caspi – a fantastic landscape painter, as well as a singer-songwriter, has released “Lay Low Shadow”, the first single from her forthcoming recording “Hurricane Coming”, an album of songs she describes as close to her heart and set against the backdrop of colourful and cinematic soundscapes.

We wrapped the episode with James Moors and Kort McCumber as Moors & McCumber with “Lean Into The Light” from their latest, the pandemic inspired “Survival”.

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!

Image Credit: Ryan McGuire from Pixabay.


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)

Flo Perlin
Back In Time
Characters (2021, Self)

How We Led Our Lives
The Future Is Bright
(single) (2021, Self)

An Early Bird
Holding On To Hope
Diviner (2021, Greywood Records)

Luke LeBlanc
Same Blues
Only Human (2021, Self)

Chris Coole, Mark Killanski, John Showman, Adrian Gross & Sam Allison
Battle Of Cedar Creek
Adeline (2021, Self) CDN

Diana Jones
We Believe You (feat. Steve Earle, Richard Thompson & Peggy Seeger)
Song To A Refugee (2020, Proper Records)

Harpin’ Norm
(Will You) Walk With Me
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Reid Jamieson
It’s Not Enough (For The Missing And Murdered)
(single) (2013, Self) CDN

James Bruce Moore
Residential School
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Pierre Sabourin
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Dans ton café
Carling Lake (2021, Self) CDN

The Slowinks
Stay With Me Awhile (2021, Weewerk) CDN

Sons Of The Never Wrong
Muddy Muddy River
Undertaker’s Songbook (2021, Sons 3 Records)

Shawna Caspi
Lay Low Shadow
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Moors & McCumber
Lean Into The Light
Survival (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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