We’re all about the music again on Episode 599 of Folk Roots Radio as we bring you another hour of great new releases, with some fabulous Covid tunes and social justice songs thrown into the mix. We’ve said this a few times now – but we can’t believe how much great new music is out there. It’s our great pleasure to bring more of it to you on this episode. Join us for songs from Amos Lee, John McCutcheon, Joy Zimmerman, John Michael Ferrari, HEISK, The Furious Seasons, James Gordon, John Wort Hannam, War & Pierce, Madison Violet, Willie Nile, Matt Patershuk, Jackson Grimm, Gordie Tentrees, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Finny McConnell. 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 this episode with “Worry No More”, the beautiful new single from Amos Lee. It’s a song that Amos wrote pre-pandemic while opening up about his own mental health, and anxiety that would often force him to avoid social interaction. Writing Worry No More provided a way for Amos to push beyond his anxiety, into a moment of peace.
“For most of my life I’ve walked into rooms thinking, I don’t belong here. Worry No More is the feeling of finding beauty in the broken lines. It’s a moment of pause, of praising the extraordinarily ordinary. We may not have more than a moment, both metaphorically and in real time, but the door is open – there is a place to exist in the mind that isn’t purely controlled by fear”
Isolation is something that many of us have been struggling with during these challenging times. Worry No More could be the mantra for us all.
“Be Still” is a song from John McCutcheon‘s great new album “Bucket List”. It’s actually the song that gave this episode its sub-title and it’s all about calming the mind.
“I’ve struggled to maintain a regular contemplative practice for years, but my job (making flights, sound checks, concerts, interviews, etc.) always seemed to interfere. The pandemic allowed me to settle in, settle down, and finally try to get it right.”
Life in Covid Times has been crazy, especially on social media. That’s one of the reasons that we decided to focus much more on staying in the real world – making mindfulness and meditation practice part of our daily life. We hope that wherever you are, you are coping as best you can and reaching out to friends and external support as needed.
Joy Zimmerman reflects on life on “If Your Life Were A Movie” while wondering which bits of it would make it into a highlight reel. You can find it on her latest album “The Canvas Before Us”.
“I’m pretty sure I’d pass on watching a replay of my entire life story – living through some chapters once was more than enough, but I’d definitely watch a highlight reel! Becoming a performing singer-songwriter was something I didn’t see coming, but I’m thrilled I took that turn. I love the potential we each have to reinvent ourselves. Are we all living a great story? Here’s to making our next episodes as interesting and fun as possible… and pass the popcorn!”
“Be The Smile On Your Face” is the beautiful title track from US singer-songwriter John Michael Ferrari‘s 2020 adult-contemporary album. A heartfelt performance, it really has the feel of a standard. The song was recommended to us by a listener after enjoying Episode 590, the “Keep On Smilin’” edition of Folk Roots Radio. If there are songs that we’ve missed, that you think we really need to hear, please get in touch. As each episode is curated, we can’t guarantee airplay but we’ll certainly check them out.
This episode’s instrumental, “Charlie’s”, comes from the self-titled debut from Scottish all-female six-piece band HEISK who blend funk and pop in with their traditionally styled instrumentals. It’s a recording they describe as… a toe-tapping celebration of female empowerment that’s perfect for dancing!
Funky folk band HEISK feature Becca Skeoch on electro harp, Catriona Hawksworth on keys, Lauren Macdonald on percussion, Megan MacDonald on accordion, alongside Rosie Munro and Sally Simpson on fiddle.
“After a number of years of writing and performing together, we felt it was time to record our debut album – a recording that showcases our festival party vibe and celebrates the awesome women working in the creative industries.
“Created, performed, and engineered by women, the album highlights the talents of under-represented professionals in the creative industries. We are proud to have collaborated on our debut release with a female producer, photographer, videographer, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, manager, and promoter. This is girl power at its best.”
The Furious Seasons are a Los Angeles-based folk trio who showcase the songs of songwriter/guitarist David Steinhart with support from fellow guitarist Paul Nelson and David’s brother Jeff, who plays bass. They’ve just released a pandemic album the appropriately entitled “Home All Day, Home All Night” – 11 songs that cover pandemic life, love, aging, and childhood memories alongside a laidback cover of David Bowie’s “Changes”. On this episode, we lead off with the song “Is This Happening”.
“During a year of pandemic, political craziness, isolation, and urgent social justice issues, we found a way to write and record 11 songs that cover a variety of subject matters, in four different studios, with two producers. During a lifetime of making albums, none of us have ever worked this way. In spite of the physical limitations, it opened our minds to new ways to record and imagine the music that we love making together.”
Guelph ON’s James Gordon has just released a lockdown album – with another appropriate title, “When I Stayed Home”. Like any James Gordon album, it covers lots of topics… climate change, the income gap, racism, empathy, social justice, our natural environment, and ‘love in a challenging time’. Unable to bring anyone into the studio, James pretty much recorded the whole thing himself, all except for the cameos from vocalist Tannis Slimmon and clarinetist John David Williams. On this episode, we play James Gordon’s fine Covid tune “We Are Broken But We’ll Mend”. We will get through this – please hang in there.
Making a new album was not the only thing that James Gordon was up to during Covid Times. He also finished a novel that comes with a 36-song recording, and performed a virtual tour of his one-man show “James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical”. He also kicked cancer’s butt (Yeah, James!) – and all while dealing with overwhelm from his other job as a Guelph City Councillor.
“Other Side Of The Curve” is probably the most pandemic-inspired track on John Wort Hannam‘s new recording (his eighth), “Long Haul” – another lockdown release. It was written after talking to a friend who had to endure lockdown thousands of miles away from the people she loved. This really brought home to John how lucky he was to have close family members to isolate with at home.
“Mercy” is the latest single from LA singer-songwriters Sunny War & Chris Pierce (as War & Pierce) – a song that deals with the challenges people of colour face when interacting with law enforcement… particularly in the United States.
“Our new single ‘Mercy’ deals with the constant resilience required by people of colour in the United States and beyond. It recollects real-life situations while demonstrating that in life and death situations, there remains no assurance that mercy will be shown or even considered on those targeted. It challenges those who target human beings based on race and intolerance to not live in fear and not make decisions based on fear.”
Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac make music together as JUNO nominated Canadian folk/pop duo Madison Violet. They have just released a stunning new video for their song “Time To Right The Wrong” which appeared on their 2019 album “Everything’s Shifting”. It’s the story of Stevie MacEachern (brother to lead singer Brenley) who was abused as an altar boy, leading to a life-long struggle with drug addiction and his eventual murder in 2006, when he was 45 years old.
“This was a hard song to write and it came with a lot of tears but I know Stevie would want me to share his story. It’s time to right the wrong! We need to talk about “the wrong” that has happened to my brother and so many others around the world. We’re trying to do our part through song.”
“The Justice Bell” is Willie Nile‘s tribute to US congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, who died last year. You can find it on Willie’s pandemic album, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”.
Alberta singer-songwriter Matt Patershuk describes his song “Johanna” as… the story of a lost woman. The narrator hoping she gets lost the best way that she can. It’s on Matt’s new recording “An Honest Effort”, a collection of songs about people who are doing all they can do to get by, in difficult situations.
You don’t have to wait until you are in your 50s to have a midlife crisis. Jackson Grimm‘s “23 Years” is the story of a quarter-life crisis. You can find it on his second album “Sober Again”. The most intimate track on the album, the cool stop-motion animation by Marley Fischer is definitely worth a watch and really emphasizes the angst being felt by this young adult.
“Lefties” is a humorous song from Yukon-based singer-songwriter Gordie Tentrees about two best friends who once a year head off together for some hi-jinx while leaving their domestic partners behind to hold the fort. You can find it on Gordie’s new album “Mean Old World”. We thought this song could be about the trouble Gordie Tentrees and regular musical partner Jaxon Haldane (who also plays on the album) get into while on tour, but it turns out it’s actually about Gordie’s partner and a girlfriend, who evidently also have lots of fun when they get out to play.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss have finally reunited to record a follow-up to “Raising Sand”, their critically acclaimed Americana roots collaboration from 2006. The new album “Raise The Roof”, which lands later this year, will include covers of songs by Merle Haggard, Alain Toussaint, the Everly Brothers, and Bert Jansch. On this episode, we play the first single, their version of the Lucinda Williams song “Can’t Let Go”.
We wrapped the episode with Kingston ON’s Finny McConnell, leader of Kingston ON Celtic punk rockers, and the beautiful breakup song “So Far Away”, another track from his great new solo album, “The Dark Streets Of Love”.
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)
Worry No More
(single) (2021, Dualtone Records)
Bucket List (2021, Appalsongs)
If Your Life Were A Movie
The Canvas Before Us (2021, Cultivate Joy Records)
John Michael Ferrari
Be The Smile On Your Face
Be The Smile On Your Face (2020, Cappy Records)
HEISK (2021, Self)
The Furious Seasons
Is This Happening
Home All Day, Home All Night (2021, Self)
We Are Broken But We’ll Mend
When I Stayed Home (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN
John Wort Hannam
Other Side Of The Curve
Long Haul (2021, Black Hen Music) CDN
War & Pierce
(single) (2021, Self)
Time To Right The Wrong
Everything’s Shifting (2019, Passenger Sounds) CDN
The Justice Bell (For John Lewis)
The Day The Earth Stood Still (2021, Rover House Records)
An Honest Effort (2021, Black Hen Music) CDN
Sober Again (2021, Vault Records)
Mean Old World (2021, Buckaroo Records) CDN
So Far Away
The Dark Streets Of Love (2021, True North Records) CDN