Folk Roots Radio Episode 589: We’re All About The Music! (The Universe Knows Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 589: We're All About The Music! (The Universe Knows Edition)

Join us on Episode 589 of Folk Roots Radio for another hour of great new music. We have some wonderful new releases to share with you, including three tracks from a new Willie Dunn compilation that celebrates the late great indigenous Canadian singer-songwriter, whose songs have gained renewed resonance as Canada is finally forced to reckon with the inhumane way it has treated its native peoples. We’re also pleased to bring you new songs from Cameron & Crawford, Kate McDonnell, Dana Sipos, Peggy Seeger, Staran, Guy Davis, Jared Rabin, Domenic DeCicco, Mark Schatz & Bryan McDowell, Donita Large, Bob Bradshaw and Chris Ronald alongside a recent classic from Nick Lowe. Check out the full playlist below.

Support the artists during Covid Times

Show Notes

A message from Jan Hall:
True story. A certain person (who shall remain nameless) had a birthday this week. This person takes an early morning walk every day – and on the morning in question, when she went out, the first song that shuffled out of her iPhone, low and behold gave her age away – in its first line. I kid you not. That’s pretty darn amazing when you consider that her phone is set to randomly deliver songs from its bank of over 6000 songs and counting.

Let’s just say that she was gobsmacked by this spooky turn of events. Another example or proof that there is a force in the universe whether you call it God, the source of all consciousness, your higher power, or whatever. It also turns out that ‘they’ (or ‘it’) are fairly cultured and enjoy the music of a certain artist. They probably also take pleasure in freaking people out.

I’m not going to tell you the name of the artist in question or the song. Listen to the episode and you’ll find out. You’ll also get to learn how many times this certain person has now been around the sun.

And, in the meantime,  (as she is doing) please get right with your higher power and live each day as if it may be your last. 

Back to the show…

We started off the episode with Saskatoon sister songwriters Trish Cameron & Wendy Crawford as Cameron & Crawford with their new single ”This Time This Place”, a song of appreciation for the magical days of summer.

“When writing this song we explored what we love about a great summer day. The dress you’re wearing? The song you’re singing? Who you’re sharing the experience with? The opportunity to love a special moment in life? Love and appreciation begets more love and appreciation. This song reminds us to recognize and treasure magical moments. Nothing’s better than ‘this time, this place’.”

We followed that with upstate New York singer-songwriter Kate McDonnell and her story of wandering, “Pilgrim”, from her fifth album, “Ballad Of A Bad Girl”.

“My writing partner Anne Lindley had been thinking for a long time about how powerful old Americana songs were when they explored going home — “going home in yonder city”, or “going down to the River Jordan”, etc. I felt that her evocative chorus carried the song almost by itself, but we needed verses, so I added rather stream-of-consciousness verses using the same language to complement her vision for the song.”

Lyrical singer-songwriter Dana Sipos has just released “The Astral Plane”, a new recording that shares stories from her grandparents who survived the holocaust and fled Hungary during the communist revolution of 1956.

“I grew up with a love of stories and storytelling across the board, the unfathomably dark and painful. And despite — or perhaps because of — the hardships, the ability to turn that darkness into humour.”

“My grandparents had miraculous lives. As child survivors, they both lost so much. During their escape from Hungary, they were thrown in jail, sent back, escaped again; my mother was drugged to stay quiet on the journey and almost didn’t survive. They arrived in Canada with $5 sown into a jacket pocket and didn’t speak a word of English. I feel very lucky that they shared these stories and experiences with us.”

“All In The Mind” comes from “First Farewell”, a recording that may be Peggy Seeger’s last of original material. Written with her son Calum McColl (who also duets with Peggy), it’s a charming reflection on the mental impact of loneliness.

The instrumental on this episode comes from Scottish folk collective Staran – which means path in Gaelic. You can find their instrumental “Little Waves” on their self-titled debut which while rooted in traditional music also finds space for elements of jazz, minimalism and electronica.

“God’s Gonna Make Things Over” is a powerful song from country blues singer-songwriter Guy Davis‘s latest album (his thirteenth), “Be Ready When I Call You”. It revisits a shameful corner in American history – the Tulsa Race Massacre which took place in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma from May 31 to June 1, 1921. A mob of white residents attacked homes and businesses belonging to Black Americans leading to hundreds of deaths, and thousands left homeless. News reporting at the time suppressed much of what happened. It is one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history.

“The Black folks just got took. They had a beautiful area called Greenwood, the “Black Wall Street”, and the White folks burned it to the ground. I wanted it to be a song that calls out for humanity – not for whiteness or anti-whiteness, but humanity.”

A great new compilation by underrated Mi’kmaq singer-songwriter, filmmaker and activist Willie Dunn (1941 – 2013) has been released by Light In The Attic Records. “Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology” features 22 tracks taken from the four (hard to find) studio albums Willie Dunn released during his career. It is a timely release as Canada reflects on the brutal way it has treated and continues to treat its indigenous peoples.

On this episode, we played three tracks from the album starting off with what is probably Willie Dunn’s best-known song, “I Pity The Country” – his reflection on colonialism and anti-indigenous racism. We followed that with “Charlie”, a retelling of the story of Ojibwe child Chanie Wenjack who ran away from his residential school and died of hypothermia and hunger on the way home. We wrapped things up with Willie’s version of Canada’s national anthem “O Canada!”, updated to reflect an indigenous perspective on the land we call home – that existed long before the white man came.

We weren’t able to squeeze the fabulous 10 minute long “The Battle Of Crowfoot” into the show, but you can check out Willie Dunn’s NFB 1968 film of the song which examines the challenges affecting indigenous people in North America through the figure of Crowfoot, the legendary 19th-century Blackfoot leader.

You can check out one of Willie Dunn’s last live performances here:

Veteran singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jared Rabin, a stalwart of the Chicago scene, reflects on the long days of the coronavirus pandemic on “Drone Of Days” from his quarantine album “Cold Rain And Snow”, his first acoustic release – and a recording on which he plays pretty much everything.

“All the tracks on Cold Rain and Snow were recorded in my home studio during 2020. The instrumentation was based on a traditional bluegrass band – but with some variations, though I performed nearly all the parts myself – playing guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bass, keyboards, and even some harmonica. Drone Of Days was written during the fall months of 2020 as the anxiety of the pandemic was truly setting in. Some days, life became almost an indistinguishable blur.”

Domenic DeCicco, originally from Canada, and now based in the UK has released a new pandemic release “Never Letting Go”, a recording that reflects on his thoughts and feelings during this extended period of isolation.

“This album came together during the lockdown. The songs developed as I watched the daily news, seeing real-life tragedy unfolding, the loss of loved ones, families kept apart, unable to be with them at the end. Trying somehow to make sense of it all, while knowing that life would never be the same again.”

“Across the world, it was the same story, empty streets, vacant playgrounds, people locked behind glass, withheld from human touch, civil unrest, doors kept closed and yet amongst all this sadness, there were touching visions in the goodness of the human heart with the courage & compassion of front line workers. This collection of songs captures some of the profound feelings & inner reflections that were stirred while facing oneself during this period of isolation.”

“My East Tennessee Home” is a beautiful song from “Grit & Polish”, Americana folkies Mark Schatz & Bryan McDowell‘s fiddle and banjo fueled old-time release – their first album as a duo. It’s a song that Mark Schatz wrote around the childhood memories of his dear wife, Eileen, who he sadly lost recently. It also features harmonies from Claire Lynch.

Saddle Lake AB-based Cree blues singer-songwriter Donita Large has released her debut single, the gospely “Going To Walk That Line”. It’s a song that speaks to women’s determination to overcome painful relationships while deciding what line they want to walk.

“I started out singing at funerals and weddings. Learning how music could be a powerful tool in healing hearts, I decided it was time to branch out. I want to share my music, and belt my heart out. I love playing music with a powerful group of women, and feeling inspired by their warmth – with everyone singing their faces off. I knew I had to get this song out there. I wanted to say ‘get it done’ and ‘I hope you know your worth.’ I am ‘going to walk that line.'”

New England troubadour singer-songwriter Bob Bradshaw, who is originally from Ireland, reflects on the start to another dark winter’s day with the beautiful and melancholy “Blue” from his new storytelling album “The Ghostlight”, which was recorded while in quarantine.

“I got the idea to call this album The Ghost Light from the theatre world, where the ghost light is a single bulb that’s left burning to appease the spirits of the absent performers whenever the hall goes dark.”

Vancouver singer-songwriter Chris Ronald actually wrote “Please Don’t Come For Me Now” from his latest album, his fifth, “Light & Dark”, before the pandemic. Reflecting on the fleeting nature of life, it takes on a deeper meaning now.

We wrapped things up with Nick Lowe and “Checkout Time”, a fabulous song with a wonderful chugging lead-in from his 2011 album “The Old Magic”, a song we just knew needed another spin.

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: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Listen

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.)

Playlist

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)

Cameron & Crawford
This Time This Place
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Kate McDonnell
Pilgrim
Ballad Of A Bad Girl (2021, Dog Eared Discs)

Dana Sipos
Swallow’s Call
The Astral Plane (2021, Roaring Girl Records) CDN

Peggy Seeger
All In The Mind (feat. Calum MacColl)
First Farewell (2021, Red Grape Music)

Staran
Little Waves
Staran (2021, Self)

Guy Davis
God’s Gonna Make Things Over
Be Ready When I Call You (2021, M.C. Records)

Willie Dunn
I Pity The Country
Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology (2021, Light In The Attic) CDN

Willie Dunn
Charlie
Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology (2021, Light In The Attic) CDN

Willie Dunn
O Canada!
Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology (2021, Light In The Attic) CDN

Jared Rabin
Drone Of Days
Cold Rain And Snow (2021, Golden Twine Music)

Domenic DeCicco
Faded Stone
Never Letting Go (2021, Twin Arrows Music) CDN

Mark Schatz & Bryan McDowell
My East Tennessee Home (feat. Claire Lynch)
Grit & Polish (2021, Patuxent Music)

Donita Large
Going To Walk That Line
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Bob Bradshaw
Blue
The Ghostlight (2021, Self)

Chris Ronald
Please Don’t Come For Me Now
Light & Dark (2020, Borealis Records) CDN

Nick Lowe
Checkout Time
The Old Magic (2011, Yep Roc)

About the author

JAN HALL

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.

2 Comments

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    • Thanks for sharing your music with us. I love the feel behind “This Time, This Place”. Looking forward to hearing what you come up with next. Stay safe and well!

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