Folk Roots Radio Episode 604: feat. Red Dirt Skinners – Bear With Us & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 604: feat. Red Dirt Skinners - Bear With Us & More New Releases

Rob and Sarah Skinner, who make music together as Red Dirt Skinners, have a much bigger sound than two people should ever be able to produce. They also create music that ticks all the boxes – it can be catchy, and driving, and full of soaring harmonies and fabulous soprano sax solos or they can pull everything back and become incredibly intimate. They join us on Episode 604 of Folk Roots Radio to talk about their great new album “Bear With Us” which has more pop/rock sounds than their previous recordings. Formerly living in the UK, and now happy at home in Canada, it’s a great interview – and Bear With Us is an excellent album. As always, we wrap up the hour with more new music and this time around we hear from Ptarmigan, Cynthia Marchant, John Pippus, Staran, Lynne Hanson and Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020


“Bear With Us”, the new album from Red Dirt Skinners sees multi-instrumentalist Rob Skinner and soprano sax player Sarah Skinner exploring more of a pop/rock sound than they have on their previous albums – and, at times, it feels quite progressive. As a band, they are constantly tweaking their sound, and have never been afraid to celebrate their influences – great music from the 70s from the likes of Pink Floyd, Queen, David Bowie… and, on this new album, Supertramp.

Bear With Us features ten new songs, all recorded in their home studio near Belleville ON, that mostly come out of their own life experience, although they are also unafraid to tackle issues like dementia, narcissistic abuse, and homelessness.

“Brighter Days Ahead”, the first song we played in this interview, is a brilliant song of hope, and one of our favourite songs released during pandemic times. In fact, we loved it so much that we used it as the sub-title for Episode 593 of Folk Roots Radio – the perfect pick me up for when life’s challenges are getting you down. Interestingly, Brighter Days Ahead was actually written pre-pandemic while on tour in Scotland, in response to the appearance of a huge dual rainbow on a very rainy day.

The second song we included, “Butterfly”, is a challenge to people to make the most of their lives and asks a very direct question: Do you want to be a butterfly or just stay as a caterpillar? 

The final track, “Feet Of Clay”, is the song that most obviously brings forth the Supertramp comparisons. An eight-minute aural delight, it’s a layered number that builds throughout, with lyrics based on the story of Ffyona Campbell, a hero of Sarah’s, who walked around the world.

The video for Red Dirt Skinners version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” (from their last album “Under Utopian Skies”) came up during the interview. Essential viewing if you’ve not yet seen it.

Red Dirt Skinners have received many awards for their music, across several genres, which reflects their constantly changing sound – Alternative Album of the Year, Folk/Roots Album of the Year, and Instrumentalist of the Year for Sarah Skinner at the British Blues Awards (2014).

For more information about Red Dirt Skinners, visit

Show Notes

We started off the episode with “Once I Knew”, the new single from Toronto indie-folk band Ptarmigan. It’s a song that Ptarmigan songwriter and vocalist Peter McMurtry describes as an exploration of his own sense of home as he transitioned from adolescence into adulthood, and the first release from their full-length album “Cocoon”, which arrives later this year.

“Heart Cracked Open Wide” is the title track of Chicago-based Americana folk singer-songwriter Cynthia Marchant‘s latest album.

“Many of my best childhood days were spent in the Ozarks, where I was baptized into Outlaw Country through my mother’s love of music. A love of adventure and a longing for new experiences led me down the Rock and Roll Highway to New Orleans. Heart Cracked Open Wide tells the story of finally leaving the Crescent City to head west in search of new experiences. A long, winding road took me from out west back to the Midwest, and into the vibrant Chicago songwriting community, centred around the Old Town School of Folk Music.”

Vancouver singer-songwriter John Pippus‘ day job is actually singing in a 50s and 60s rock revue. He gets to explore his folk-roots side on “Two Sides To Every Lie” from his fifth album, “Hermosa Star”, which also features harmonies from his wife Pam Searle, with his son Jacob Pippus on drums.

The instrumental on this episode, “Back To Glasgow” is another track from the self-titled debut album from the Scottish folk collective Staran, whose traditional roots sound also finds space for elements of jazz, minimalism and electronica. Back To Glasgow actually features three tunes, “Back To Glasgow ” (from James Duncan Mackenzie), Canadian fiddler Shane Cook’s “Squirmy” and “Deichead” (from Staran’s Jack Smedley).

Canada’s Queen of Americana Lynne Hanson‘s has released a new single “Shadowland”.

“Shadowland is a co-write between myself and guitarist Blair Michael Hogan. It actually started out as a kind of surfy, Hank Marvin-esque instrumental. The aim with the lyrics was to give the song a sort of spaghetti western adventure type of vibe. It’s really meant to be a fun kind of song that’s best consumed at high volume while speeding down a dark highway.”

We wrapped the episode with Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno and the bittersweet “Good and Gone” from their self-titled old-time album.

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: Red Dirt Skinners.


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)

Once I Knew
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Cynthia Marchant
Heart Cracked Open Wide
Heart Cracked Open Wide (2020, Self)

John Pippus
Two Sides To Every Lie
Hermosa Star Family Album (2021, Self) CDN

Back To Glasgow
Staran (2021, Self)

Red Dirt Skinners
Brighter Days Ahead
Bear With Us (2021, Self) CDN

Interview: Red Dirt Skinners discussing their new album “Bear With Us”.

Red Dirt Skinners
Your Butterfly
Bear With Us (2021, Self) CDN

Red Dirt Skinners
Feet Of Clay
Bear With Us (2021, Self) CDN

Lynne Hanson
(single)(2021, Self) CDN

Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno
Good and Gone
Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno (2021, Free Dirt 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.


Leave a comment
  • Thanks for playing “Two Sides To Every Lie”, Jan. The show playlist looks solid. I’m delighted to be in their company. Going to play the show as soon as it’s on SoundCloud or Spotify. John

    • Thanks, John. As always, I had fun putting it together. I’m looking forward to playing more music from “Hermosa Star” on a future episode. Thanks for sharing your music with us!

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