Folk Roots Radio Episode 601: We’re All About The Music! (Time Well Spent Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 601: We're All About The Music! (Time Well Spent Edition)

We have more great new music to share with you on Episode 601 of Folk Roots Radio – some wonderful new songs, and guess what, they were all received within the last few weeks. So stay with us as we check out new releases from Kristen Martell, Josienne Clarke, Steve Warner, Jeremy Voltz, Graham Rorie, Clever Hopes, Daniel James McFadyen, Matt McGinn & Aoife Scott, Andrea Ramolo, Howard Gladstone, Tania Joy, Billy Bragg, Zachary Lucky and Sarah McQuaid. 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.

Best 2020

Show Notes

One of the essential requirements to do a radio show, especially one that is predominantly based around new music, is to have a ready supply of great new releases in the genres you play. We’ve been really blessed with some great music this year. It’s one of the (few) benefits from these strange pandemic times – artists haven’t been able to tour so much so they have spent a lot more time working on new songs.

The switch to digital music delivery has also been of benefit, as it has meant that we now receive new releases much quicker, and providing they meet our specifications with respect to file quality and information provided (see our updated submission requirements) we are able to make airplay decisions much more rapidly. That’s one of the reasons that all the songs on this episode were received in the last few weeks – great new music we wanted to share with you as soon as we could!

The downside of the music delivery revolution is that we are now receiving more music than we can ever possibly play. That is one of the reasons that we encourage artists to think carefully about the pitch they are making when they send us their music. That way, their submission will stand out. Make it personal – tell us about you, and why we should be playing your song. Keep it realistic – don’t send us music on spec if you are not sure that it is a good fit for the show. Listen to the show first and you’ll know what we really like. And, please – tell us the story behind your new song(s)! We love sharing your thoughts about the music you create, with our listeners. If your new song comes with a great video – well, so much the better. On Folk Roots Radio, (as we say every week) we are all about the music… and the people who make it!

The subtitle for this episode – the ‘Time Well Spent’ edition, comes from the title of a new song written by Irish singer-songwriter Matt McGinn and performed by Matt with fellow Irish singer-songwriter Aoife Scott – and it’s a song that arrived just a few days ago.

Matt describes “Time Well Spent” as the result of a hard lesson learned – that time spent with a friend, a loved one or a family member is not something that can be taken for granted.

“This pandemic has left a void that we all feel deeply. It wasn’t long before I realized that time spent in the company of those we love is precious”

And, Aoife adds, “When I first heard Matt perform the song for a small group of people together in a room online – I knew it was something special the minute I heard it. I was blown away by his lyrics and the beautiful sentiment behind the song.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Matt and Aoife, life is short… and unpredictable. Don’t miss the opportunity to tell people how much you care for them.

Fun fact: the average human life expectancy is just 4000 weeks. That doesn’t sound very long at all. ‘Tick-Tock’… as we say in our house. Or, ‘Soon Dead’… as one of our favourite Buddhist teachers is fond to say.

We started the episode with a new single from Nova Scotia’s Kristen Martell, “Quiet Hearts”. It’s the second single she has created with songwriter Gabrielle Papillon and producer Dan Ledwell.

“‘Quiet Hearts’ is about shining a light on the burdens that weigh us down. This song brings forth feelings of liberation for me. With gentle layers of synth, pulsing keys, an infectious beat, and gang vocals, I hope it has the listener standing tall amidst their innermost challenges and ready to illuminate the path ahead.”

Scottish singer-songwriter Josienne Clarke‘s second studio album “A Small Unknowable Thing” sees the artist ‘flying solo’ and taking total control of the songwriting, arrangements, and production for this project. It’s a direct response to feeling compromised and questioned as a woman in the music industry.

“A Small Unknowable Thing is, at least in part, about recognizing there are still existing structures that keep women in their place – but it’s also about having the courage to break those structures down. I realized that I had to be so explicit in explaining how much I’d done in order to get credit for it. I started saying ‘No, actually, I did all of this, can we put my name on this thing?’ It’s really resisted. It’s as if I’m being an arrogant megalomaniac for wanting credit for stuff that I did. Now, I just do it all by myself. If there isn’t another name on it, then there can’t be any misappropriation.”

“It’s an empowered narrative, not a weak and vulnerable one. It was a conscious decision to walk away from my career as it was and there’s a positive message on this record: there’s a lot of reclaiming the narrative.”

Steve Warner is a singer-songwriter from Hertfordshire in the UK who has been writing and recording his own music, as well as playing live in pubs, folk clubs, and coffee shops alongside the occasional bit of busking. His songwriting is typically informed by his own life experience. “Stone Cold” is a song he wrote when good friends were struggling with their relationship – struggling to stay together, yet also struggling to break apart. Alison Lewis joins Steve on the song to create that real tug of love feel.

“Hold Me Up” is a new song from Toronto-based singer-songwriter Jeremy Voltz. You can find it on his new album “Weekender” which features a variety of different genres.

“‘Hold Me Up’ is a little love song from someone who keeps screwing up. I co-wrote it with Darryl James from The Strumbellas. We were in full lockdown at the time so I couldn’t get my drummer or bassist into the studio. I ended up recording this one entirely at home – drums, guitar, bass, and piano, all played by myself. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

This episode’s instrumental “Babiche” is another track from “The Orcadians of Hudson Bay”, the wonderful debut album from award-winning Scottish fiddle and mandolin player Graham Rorie. It’s an album that tells the story of the Orcadians (that’s people from the Orkney Isles) who traveled to the far north of Canada to work in the fur industry during the 18th and 19th centuries. Babiche is actually an Inuit word for the strips of rawhide used to make fastenings and snowshoe string.

The Orcadians who traveled to Hudson Bay were considered to be very adaptable people. In fact, one text described them as… “hardy people who are able to endure both cold and hunger. Hardworking… extremely thrifty… and usually sober!”

Actor and director Andrew Shaver and actor Eva Foote are now making music together as Clever Hopes. They tip their hat to some of the great rock duets of the past with “Made You Mad” – a broken-hearted love song, written by Andrew Shaver. They describe it as… “a reminder that even when it is your fault… it’s going to be ok. It may be too late to fix it, but just in time to try again.

You’ll be able to find Made You Mad on their debut album “Artefact” which was produced by Matthew Barber, and features Noah Reid on keys, Joe Grass on various guitars throughout, Justin Rutledge on guitar from time to time, Kev Foran on the brass, Matthew Barber on Farfisa organ now and again, Steve Zsirai on bass, and Marshall Bureau on drums.

Wolfville NS singer-songwriter Daniel James McFadyen is new to our musical radar. On this episode we play the beautiful “Seabird”, a song about longing to return to Canada’s east coast which you can find on his first full-length album “August, I’m Yours”.

The genesis of the album has an interesting back story. Apparently, Daniel worked construction with his brother-in-law, in Ontario, during the early part of the pandemic, to pay for the album – as there were no shows to play. The title August, I’m Yours comes from his excitement at returning to the east coast after a long hard spring and summer to work on the album. It’s a nice album – we’ll definitely be digging into this one again.

Andrea Ramolo‘s new single “Free”, which was written by Andrea with Kinnie Starr and Hill Kourkoutis, is a song about coming together as women to support each other while shining a light on a society that values freedom for the few over freedom for the many. It also features Kinnie Starr on vocals. It’s the first release from Andrea’s new album “Quarantine Dream”, which was produced by Sarah MacDougall.

“This is an album about dreams and extremes. About extreme hope and fear and loneliness and love. And about the dreams that keep us awake at night, and the ones that keep us going. It is also a record about the passing of time and about change… about radical love and acceptance – for ourselves and for others. About fighting for a better world. I hope it inspires that.”

“Building A Fence” is a bluesy song that comes from Toronto singer-songwriter Howard Gladstone‘s new album “Concord Sessions”. The song touches on division, privilege, separation, and crisis.

“These ideas are touched on throughout the song (Building A Fence) and the album, sometimes just below the surface — like an underground river. In the age of environmental and humanitarian crisis, and a future we have limited time to shape, the songs on Concord Sessions focus on the broader picture of where we humans are at — collectively, as a species.”

Uxbridge ON singer-songwriter Tania Joy stands with minorities against prejudice and oppression on the title track of her new EP, “I Will Stand” – a deeply personal journey of empowerment.

“I Will Stand” is an anthemic call to marginalized communities and their allies to stand up for what they believe in and stand against the institutions and prejudices that exist in this world, with the emphatic intent to tear them down one by one.”

Billy Bragg focuses on speaking to younger generations on a new single “Mid-Century Modern” from his 13th studio album “The Million Things That Never Happened”, a 12-song recording he describes as his pandemic blues album.

“As a mid-century modern geezer, I’m aware that my notions of personal relationships were formed almost 50 years ago, likewise my politics. To cling to that and imagine that you’ve nothing to learn from younger generations, you’re in danger of becoming a dinosaur. Kids have got new priorities and new ideas. Thatcher’s dead. The world has moved on. I’m trying to respond to the things I’m hearing now, rather than reminding folk of ‘the good old days.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that empathy is the currency of music — that our job as songwriters is to help people come to terms with their feelings by offering them examples of how others may have dealt with a situation similar to that in which listeners find themselves. After what we’ve all been through, the idea of being a shield, physically, emotionally, psychologically, really resonates.”

Zachary Lucky has released a new collection of traditional folk and roots songs, “Songs For Hard Times”. It was recorded with just voice and guitar and a single Ear Trumpet Labs mic in a small cottage on the shores of Halls Lake, Ontario, Canada. Despite a lot of Zachary’s albums coming off sounding like “solo recordings”, this is actually his first truly solo effort.

“Songs For Hard Times is a new collection of traditional folk and roots songs that I’ve been carrying around in my back pocket for years. Over the course of my 12-year career, I had always intended to make a solo record but never got around to it. A lot of the albums that I love and hold dear are ones where all you hear is a voice and a guitar. After spending a year and a half off the road due to the pandemic it felt like the right time to hit record on that collection of songs that I had been carrying around and “Songs For Hard Times” was born.”

The last song on this episode was rather appropriately “Last Song” from UK-based singer-songwriter Sarah McQuaid. Originally on her 2008 album “I Won’t Go Home ‘til Morning”, this version was recorded (without an audience) as part of a live solo concert set for her pandemic video and audio project, “The St. Buryan Sessions”, which was filmed in the historic St Buryan’s Church in Cornwall England.

“‘Last Song’ has always been a special song for me – I wrote it a long time ago, when my kids were toddlers and I used to try and fit in a bit of guitar practice by way of a lullaby when I was putting them to bed. There was one night that I heard myself say “Are you still awake?” and it was as if my mother’s voice came out of my mouth — it took me right back to when I was little and used to lie in bed listening to her singing and playing her guitar in the next room. I’d call out requests, and she’d say “Are you still awake? Go to sleep!” Sadly she died way too young, so my children never knew her as their grandmother.

“I can’t wait to get back out on the road again this fall. Obviously, I’m nervous about COVID, but I desperately miss performing to live audiences. The few gigs that I’ve managed to do this summer have been so, so lovely – every time I do a gig, it just brings home how much I’ve missed it.”

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!

Image Credit: PICNIC-Foto-Soest 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)

Kristen Martell
Quiet Hearts
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Josienne Clarke
A Small Unknowable Thing (2021, Corduroy Punk)

Steve Warner
Stone Cold
(single) (2021, Self)

Jeremy Voltz
Hold Me Up
Weekender (2021, Self) CDN

Graham Rorie
The Orcadians of Hudson Bay (2021, Rumley Sounds)

Clever Hopes
Made You Mad (Radio Edit)
Artefact (2021, Self) CDN

Daniel James McFadyen
August, I’m Yours (2021, Self) CDN

Matt McGinn & Aoife Scott
Time Well Spent
(single) (2021, Self)

Andrea Ramolo
Free (feat. Kinnie Starr)
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Howard Gladstone
Building A Fence
Concord Sessions (2021, Sonic Peach Music) CDN

Tania Joy
I Will Stand
I Will Stand EP (2021, Self) CDN

Billy Bragg
Mid-Century Modern
The Million Things That Never Happened (2021, Cooking Vinyl)

Zachary Lucky
Goodbye Dear Old Stepstone
Songs For Hard Times (2021, Self) CDN

Sarah McQuaid
Last Song
The St Buryan Sessions (2021, A Shovel & A Spade Records)

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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