Join us on Episode 593 for another ‘all music’ Covid Times edition of Folk Roots Radio. No interviews, just loads of great new music. As always, we have some wonderful new releases to share with you. This time around we hear from Annie Gallup, Brian Campbell, Steve Paul Simms, Red Dirt Skinners, Barney Bentall & Geoffrey Kelly, Diana Jones, Murray McLauchlan, Dan O’Rourke, AHI, Paul Reddick, Kat Danser, Daniel Lanois, OXLIP and The Lucky Ones. Remember, if you like what you hear on Folk Roots Radio… and want to support the artists… don’t just stream their music, BUY their music and then you’ll really make a difference to their income during this difficult time, when it’s really hard to find live show opportunities. Check out the full playlist below.
We started off with Annie Gallup from Rockland, Maine with “Magic Saved Me”, a song that’s all about overcoming a challenge but not knowing how you did it, because it was… well… ‘magic’. You can find it on Annie’s new album “Oh Everything”.
“This song was written late in the troubled winter of 2021, at the intersection of isolation, insomnia, unrest, alienation, fear, dreams, hope and progress. It began as a feeling rather than a narrative. The challenge was to interpret the feeling into words and music without losing it in translation. We made the recording pandemic-style, remotely dropboxing tracks between my home on the coast of Maine, where Peter Gallway and I recorded our parts, and New York City, where Harvey Jones, madman genius of the artful synthesizer, underemployed during lockdown and therefore miraculously with time on his hands, created the evocative, beautiful, passionate and tender soundscape you hear on this song.”
We followed that with Montreal song poet Brian Campbell with “Surprise”, a song about the joys of walking hand in hand outdoors in the spring, at the end of a hard winter. You can find it on his latest EP “On This Shore”.
“On This Shore is what I like to call my poetic chill-out beach EP. All but one of its five songs and poem are set on a beach or ocean, and that one song, concerning a steamy romantic night, could easily belong there. Songs of reverie, longing, despair, and sensual delight, ending with a meditation on that final mysterious journey into the great beyond. Two of the songs are poems by the Hungarian-Canadian poet Imre de C. Nemeth (1923-2002) that I adapted and put to music. The other three songs and the poem are mine. Four of the five songs also feature nuanced arrangements and Ema Jean’s haunting, ethereal backup vocals. Even this album’s most anguished moments are smoothed by soothing chords and melodies. Relax and enjoy!”
Toronto’s Steve Paul Simms is an actor by training, and a musician by trade. A frequent performer at the Tranzac Club, on this episode we play “You Can” from his new storytelling album “Ingrid And The Messenger Boy”.
Originally from the UK, and now making their home close to Belleville ON, Sarah and Rob Skinner – who make music together as the Red Dirt Skinners, have released a wonderful new upbeat single “Brighter Days Ahead” – the first from their new album “Bear With Us”, that leans more into a 70s style indie pop/rock sound (Supertramp, Queen and David Bowie) than anything they’ve done so far.
“We were on tour in Scotland and noticed, amongst the rain clouds, the shadows always pointed towards a rainbow. It seemed to be an observation that could be applied to life in general too, and from that idea, “Brighter Days Ahead” was born. We are living in strange and confusing times. ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ is intended to give the listener hope. It’s a positive summer anthem for 2021!”
The instrumental on this episode “Winter Flood” comes from “RanchWriters”, the new album from Barney Bentall (Barney Bentall & the Legendary Hearts, The High Bar Gang) and Geoffrey Kelly (Spirit of the West, Paperboys). It’s an all instrumental album where they get to play with the melody and tuning without having to worry about the need to come up with a good lyric. A beautiful recording, it was recorded at Barney’s ranch in the Cariboo region of British Columbia last year while they were both in relative isolation. We’ll have more from it on a future episode.
“On nice days, we might park ourselves on a couple of old chairs by the creek. We tend to lose ourselves, and become comically oblivious to any noise or frivolity going on around. There’s no agenda and no pressure to come up with a thoughtful and meaningful lyric. Truth be told, it’s quite liberating. This time, being well aware that the times are strange, and words don’t seem to be able to fully capture what the world is going through, we delved deeper and deeper into that instrumental writing process. Making the RanchWriters album together felt like a gift we never saw coming.”
Diana Jones gives voice to the disposed with the title track from her critically acclaimed new album “Song To A Refugee”.
‘Song To A Refugee’ artfully considers the times we live in, speaks for those often without a voice and encourages a humanitarian response to the refugee crisis around the world. Produced by award-winning composer and musician David Mansfield (Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby), Song To A Refugee includes special guests Richard Thompson, The Chapin Sisters, Jason Sypher (Rhiannon Giddens) on bass, Glenn Patscha (Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt) on piano and Will Holshouser (Regina Carter) on accordion.
“I Live On A White Cloud” is an honest assessment of white privilege from Murray McLauchlan‘s latest album “Hourglass”. It comes with a fabulous video, that features Murray McLauchlan singing directly into the camera, that gives you goosebumps. It really gets its point across.
“Danger”, the new single from Toronto indie soul artist AHI tells the story of a son lost to gun violence, and the impact that loss has on his loved ones. You’ll be able to find it on AHI’s forthcoming album “Prospect”, which is due out in November.
“Music comes to me in my dreams all the time. Danger was one of those songs where I dreamt I was singing the chorus to a huge crowd as they sang along to every word, and I immediately woke up and recorded it with a sense of urgency. Little did I know, my song told the story of a mother whom I would later meet for the first time, whose son had been lost to gun violence in a manner eerily similar to the lyrics of the song I had dreamt. Hearing that mother’s story affirmed for me that the solution and healing we are looking for is rooted in the realization that life is fragile and precious. Gun violence and gun laws are a hot-button issue, but that’s not what this song’s about; while some people are physically wounded by bullets, others are spiritually and emotionally scarred for life.”
Toronto’s poet laureate of the blues Paul Reddick released a lovely live album “Alive In Italia” last year which slipped by without a play on Folk Roots Radio. On this episode we play the beautiful “Villanelle”.
“This record is a love letter to Italy and our friends there. If I had one wish come true today, I would be sitting on a patio on the narrow, cobbled streets of Italy’s Sestri Levante. I would be celebrating in the fine company of my Italian and Canadian musician friends, and savouring the endless beauty of that place and that moment. We would talk about the shows we have played together, and we’d remember and drink ‘to’ one evening in particular: the one in a wooden beamed theatre among those piacevole foothills of Piemonte in November 2019. The one where we performed as one, come fratelli, as brothers, Alive in Italia.”
Edmonton AB blues singer-songwriter Kat Danser‘s eighth album, the Steve Dawson produced “One Eye Open” features a lovely upbeat cover of Gus Cannon’s “Bring It With You When You Come” which was written in the 1920s.
There’s a trail that runs from the dead heat of the Mississippi Delta, through the winding alleyways of Havana, to the smoky confines of a cigar club in Edmonton. Kat Danser has spent most of her life trawling the backstreets of the blues and her sixth album, One Eye Open, reflects the fruits of her explorations. From an old string band melody passed down from the twenties, to a lyric written the night before the Covid pandemic shut the world down, the past rides shotgun with the present on everything Kat sings and plays. One Eye Open broadens her decades long conversation with the blues and is a testament to the enduring emotional power and relevance of the art form.
The wonderful “Dance On”, a song to lift your spirits during these challenging times, comes from Daniel Lanois‘ latest album “Heavy Sun”, a recording that weaves together electronica and gospel music, to produce something that sounds familiar, yet also a little different.
“We want to lift people’s spirits with this music. It’s so easy to feel isolated right now, but we want everyone to feel included in what we’re doing. Our goal was to be a force for good with these songs. We wanted to remind people not to let the world steal their joy, to remind them that even during a global pandemic, it’s our responsibility to protect our spirits and find ways to keep on dancing, keep on singing, keep on teaching, keep on loving.”
Multi-instrumentalist Jayne Trimble who is originally from Northern Ireland, and now lives in Vancouver makes music as dream folk singer-songwriter OXLIP. Her third album, the intriguing titled “Your Mother Was A Peacock” is dedicated to re-telling stories of women from history and the price they have paid to a cruel patriarchal society. It features ten tracks couched in lovely melodies and delivered in a lullingly sweet voice, with a kick inside.
“Sometimes a completely beautiful song can be the greatest way to say f*** you!”
“Nøkken” is based on a Norwegian fairytale about a shapeshifting river beast that lures women into the river, by any means, and kills them. And, if you’re wondering what ‘oxlip’ means, it’s a yellow primrose that flowers each spring.
We wrapped the episode with Yukon based bluegrass/string band The Lucky Ones and “Drunken Goodnight” from their self-titled debut which was recorded at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Dawson City. According to the band “Drunken Goodnight is a song about sometimes having to let your friends make mistakes with their relationships in the hope that they’ll figure it out. That sounds a bit harsh. A different spin on what friends are for.
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!
Stay safe and well everyone!
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)
Magic Saved Me
Oh Everything (2021, Gallway Bay Music)
On This Shore (2020, Self) CDN
Steve Paul Simms
Ingrid And The Messenger Boy (2021, Self) CDN
Red Dirt Skinners
Brighter Days Ahead
Bear With Us (2021, Self)
Barney Bentall & Geoffrey Kelly
RanchWriters (2021, True North Records) CDN
Song To A Refugee
Song To A Refugee (2020, Proper Records)
I Live On A White Cloud (For George Floyd)
Hourglass (2021, True North Records) CDN
For That Matter
(single) (2020, Ekruoro Records)
2021 (22 Sentry / Thirty Tigers) CDN
Paul Reddick & The Gamblers
Alive In Italia (2020, Stony Plain Records) CDN
Bring It With You When You Come
One Eye Open (2020, Black Hen Music) CDN
Heavy Sun (2021, eOne) CDN
Your Mother Was A Peacock (2021, Garment District Records) CDN
The Lucky Ones
The Lucky Ones (2021, Self) CDN