Folk Roots Radio Episode 608: We’re All About The Music! (Moving Up To Awesome Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 608: We're All About The Music! (Moving Up To Awesome Edition)

We have another great hour of new music for you on Episode 608 of Folk Roots Radio. This time around we feature Sunny War, Aspen Jacobsen, The Breath, Jessica Pearson & The East Wind, Shane Cook & The Woodchippers, Katie Spencer, Jaspar Lepak, Terry Morrison, Digging Roots, String Bone, Spell Songs, Cut Split & Delivered, Mark Perry and Joe Nolan. It’s a fun episode – you’ll not be disappointed! 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

We decided to call this all-music episode the ‘Moving Up To Awesome’ edition of Folk Roots Radio because we believe that we all need to be optimistic for the future, despite the challenging times. However, you won’t find those words in any of the songs we play because they are actually the title of a fine James Gordon song from his pandemic release, “When I Stayed Home”.

We had originally planned to play “Moving Up To Awesome” on this episode, but then we ended up having a wonderful in-depth interview with James Gordon, which turned into a one hour conversation you can find on this website as Episode 607 of Folk Roots Radio. We’d like to encourage you to hop over there and check it out, if you haven’t already done so. We’re biased, but we think it’s a great interview – awesome, actually!

Back to the music we did play… We started out the episode with LA based Sunny War and “Lucid Lucy”, a meditation on the appeal of lucid dreaming from her new album “Simple Syrup”. An activist as well as a prolific singer-songwriter, Sunny War created a Food Not Bombs chapter in LA during the pandemic, putting together a network of volunteers to distribute vegan food to the homeless.

The Breath are an alternative folk duo from Manchester in the UK featuring guitarist Stuart McCallum and vocalist Ríoghnach Connolly. They recently released their versions of two Karen Dalton songs to celebrate the memory of the hugely influential folk icon.

The story of 60’s American cult folk singer Karen Dalton is riddled with salacious rumour and myth; a reclusive, difficult artist who never sang her own words, died a junkie, homeless and virtually unknown. The tragedy here is that in her time, her exquisitely masterful, achingly pained voice went largely unnoticed. It would take almost 30 years and the reminisces of an adoring Bob Dylan to bring her to our attention. Yet Karen’s intense, unvarnished voice was immortalized on two studio recordings, the final of which, “In My Own Time”, was released in 1971.

The song we play on this episode, “Something On Your Mind”, was originally released on In My Own Time. In 2012, some of Karen Dalton’s own personal songs and poems, written in secret, were published. “Remembering Mountains”,  the second song that The Breath have released features newly released words by Karen Dalton, set to music by the duo.

“Karen’s voice is unearthly, it’s almost jarring and you can hear a harrowing pain in her vocal texture, the absolute sorrow is even in her phrasing. The lyrics ‘You can’t make it without ever even trying’ is such a potent line for me – this song is about survival for me, being able to channel that in the song was a gift in catharsis. Karen Dalton is a singer I will always go back to. She’s a woman everyone should know”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of release of “In My Own Time”, a new feature length Karen Dalton documentary has been released.

Blues and folk singer Karen Dalton was a prominent figure in 1960s New York. Idolized by Bob Dylan and Nick Cave, Karen discarded the traditional trappings of success and led an unconventional life until her early death. Since most images of Karen have been lost or destroyed, the documentary uses Karen’s dulcet melodies and interviews with loved ones to build a rich portrait of this singular woman and her hauntingly beautiful voice.

“Damned Dynasty” is the powerful new single from Michigan based singer-songwriter Aspen Jacobsen. Despite still being in her teens, that song shows maturity way beyond her years. The start of a new recording project for her third album, it was recorded in Nashville with Dominic Davis.

“Damned Dynasty is a song about the concept of God and how it can be twisted and corrupted. It was inspired by my own per struggles with organized religion and faith. ‘While we wage wars based on your presence… well, can’t you see the irony?'”

Jessica Pearson‘s “Ready My Heart” picked up Folk Music Ontario 2021 Songs From The Heart award in the roots music category. You can find it on the Jessica Pearson & The East Wind’s 2020 album, “On The Line”.

“Be Here For A While” is the latest collection of original fiddle tunes and songs from Canadian fiddler Shane Cook with his band The Woodchippers who feature Emily Flack (Leahy) on piano, vocals and step dance, Joe Phillips on double bass and guitar, and Kyle Waymouth on guitar and step dance. On this episode we play “Charlie’s Bounce”, a reel that Shane wrote for his then three-year-old son.

“Hurt In Your Heart” is the title track of UK singer-songwriter Katie Spencer‘s 3-track EP of songs by the late great UK songwriter John Martyn. The EP also features two former members of John Martyn’s band, Alan Thomson on fretless bass and Spencer Cozens on piano. Katie does a great version of the song. Check out the live video below.

Seattle based singer-songwriter Jaspar Lepak‘s latest single “One Brave Life” had an unusual start to life, as it was commissioned by New York Times best-selling author JoAnn Ross as the theme song for her upcoming novel “The Inheritance”. The Inheritance focuses on the lives of three sisters (each born to a different mother) and their grandmother’s tales of life in WWII France and the wounded American soldier who would change the course of all of their lives. That sounds like a very interesting read.

“Another Season” comes from Alberta Métis singer-songwriter Terry Morrison‘s sixth album “Wolf Willow & Alberta Rose”. It’s a song written through the eyes of an older woman as she reflects on her life through the changing of the seasons.

“Cut My Hair” is the second single from Juno award winning indigenous roots rockers Digging Roots new album “Zhawenim”, which means ‘unconditional love’ in Ojibway Anishinaabemowiin.

“Cut My Hair is inspired by the stories of our family. This is a song about truth. When we talk about cutting hair, it’s about the history of systemic oppression and the attempted destruction of our families. We’re also talking about the fact that we’re still here. Our families are still holding medicine and gifts that our ancestors protected for us. Our ceremonies are still strong. Traditionally the Anishinaabe cut our hair in coming of age rites or condolence ceremonies. This song is about reclaiming the kindness of those sacred acts within our family.”

“Cut My Hair is about the truth of genocide, and the truth of the strength that endures. It’s a song for all of the survivors of the residential schools and all of the children who never made it home.”

Folk Americana singer-songwriter Barry James Payne, who makes music as String Bone, serves up something completely different on “Wow! Oh Yeah!” – his latest single, and a clear call for change. It mashes up grunge, funk, Americana, folk, rock, disco, spoken word, R&B/soul and gospel with a lyric that asks some very important questions. It also features collaborator George Leger III, and will appear on his upcoming third album, “Coping Mechanisms”

We had a great video conversation with Barry James Payne last year during which Barry talked about how he had changed  his approach to making music in the streaming age. Worth a watch, if you haven’t seen it.

“Oak” is the first single from “Spell Songs II: Let The Light In”, the second album from acclaimed UK folk ensemble Spell Songs who feature Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter & Jim Molyneux, and, on this song, Kris Drever and Seckou Keita.

Spell Songs is a musical companion piece to both The Lost Words & The Lost Spells books by acclaimed author Robert Macfarlane and award-winning illustrator Jackie Morris; creating a listening experience that intersects music, literature, language and art, as a call to reawaken our love of the wild.

Poplar is the whispering tree,
Rowan is the sheltering tree,
Willow is the weeping tree,
and Oak is the waiting tree.

Kris Drever writes: “For this song I wanted music that had life and a sense of still, woody, wisdom – like the tree at its heart. So I used my old-fashioned sounding guitar, put on my well-worn trad music boots, closed the door on my humdrum trivia and played ‘til it felt about right. Some things are hard work, but that tune was unbidden. It could have been ‘written’ in any number of centuries.”

“Brand New Record” is the first single from the self-titled debut from south shore of Nova Scotia Americana influenced rock band
Cut Split & Delivered. With a title like that, how could we not want to give it a spin on a radio show dedicated to new releases?

“We can’t wait to share these songs. We have played together a long time and these emotion-driven songs represent who we are as a band. They are about heartbreak and overcoming, they’re about wanting to get out of town and wanting a brand new record to play. They’re about being wrong most of the time, and the lap of luxury moving in, and they’re about dealing with pain, and loss, and trying for a life we wouldn’t want to change. Sometimes, they’re just about the jam.”

Northern BC storytelling singer-songwriter Mark Perry tells the story of a woman who misses life on the prairies after moving out to the Pacific Northwest on “Saskatchewan”. You can find it on Mark’s 13th album, which is entitled “Northwest”.

These songs come from, what is to many, an exotic and remote place. They offer a peek at people, landscapes and isolation. It’s about people’s emotional connection to landscapes, our dependency on its natural resources, our resilience, especially when we experience loss, and how we find our way out of it.

We wrapped up the episode with Edmonton AB singer-songwriter Joe Nolan‘s and rather appropriately “See You Soon” from his great new album “Scrapper”. Joe Nolan joined us for a great chat on Episode 605 of Folk Roots Radio.

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)

Sunny War
Lucid Lucy
Simple Syrup (2020, Hen House Studios)

Aspen Jacobsen
Damned Dynasty
(single) (2021, Self)

The Breath
Something On Your Mind
(single) (2021, Real World)

Jessica Pearson & The East Wind
Ready My Heart
On The Line (2020, Willow Sound Records) CDN

Shane Cook & The Woodchippers
Charlie’s Bounce
Be Here For A While (2021, Self) CDN

Katie Spencer
Hurt In Your Heart (feat. Alan Thomson & Spencer Cozens)
Hurt In Your Heart EP (2021, Self)

Jaspar Lepak
One Brave Life
(single) (2021, Self)

Terry Morrison
Another Season
Wolf Willow & Alberta Rose (2021, Self) CDN

Digging Roots
Cut My Hair
(single) (2021, Ishkōdé Records) CDN

String Bone
Wow! Oh Yeah! (feat. George Leger lll)
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Spell Songs (feat. Kris Drever & Seckou Keita)
Spell Songs II: Let The Light In (2021, Thirty Tigers)

Cut Split & Delivered
Brand New Record
Cut Split And Delivered (2021, Self) CDN

Mark Perry
Northwest (2021, Northern Sky Records) CDN

Joe Nolan
See You Soon
Scrapper (2021, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

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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