Folk Roots Radio Episode 609: feat. John Wort Hannam – Long Haul & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 609: feat. John Wort Hannam - Long Haul & More New Releases

We’re heading back to Alberta for another interview on Episode 609 of Folk Roots Radio. This time around we are in Lethbridge to chat to John Wort Hannam about his new album “Long Haul”. The follow up to 2018’s “Acres Of Elbow Room”, it was recorded in lockdown, during pandemic times. A lovely, relaxed, warm feel to it – it’s a timely reflection on relationships and life in general and what we all miss when we’re not able to spend time together. As always, we wrap up the rest of the episode with more new releases, and this time around we hear from Dizzy & Fay, Margot Merah, Katie Spencer, Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill, Doc Watson with Merle Watson, Julian Taylor, Chris LaVancher and Josh Ritchie. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020

Interview

“Long Haul” is the eighth recording John Wort Hannam has produced since giving up teaching in 2001 – his fourth for Nashville based Canadian producer and guitarist/lap steel player Steve Dawson‘s Black Hen Music, and the third with Steve in the producer’s chair.

The follow up to 2018’s Acres Of Elbow Room, it was created while in lockdown, working remotely with Steve Dawson over the internet. Joining John on the album are Black Hen Music regulars Gary Craig (drums), Jeremy Holmes (bass), and Chris Gestrin (keyboards) who laid down a foundation for Long Haul’s warm and relaxed sound with guitar/strings from Steve Dawson while John Prine alumnus Fats Kaplin guests on mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and accordion. Keri Latimer and T. Buckley add background vocals.

Long Haul features 11 tracks, and for the first time includes two humorous songs “Meat Draw” and “Beautiful Mess”.

“I’ve become more comfortable writing about myself than I ever was in the past. When I first started writing, I thought there was nothing interesting in my own life, so I relied on my imagination to create songs. Recently, I’ve realized that the things that I go through are meaningful and that I don’t need a crazy, drunken, bound for the jailhouse kind of life to write good songs.”

“Long Haul is a reflection on my life up to this point, and for the first time, I think that my songs perfectly encapsulate the truth of where I’m at as an artist and a person. Life is short, and time is passing. I don’t want to spend it wishing that things were any different than they are.”

“I would never have written a song like ‘Beautiful Mess’ when I first started out. All of my early songs were serious and somber, but I’ve discovered that it’s actually really rewarding and difficult to write a funny song.”

For more information about the music of John Wort Hannam, visit johnworthannam.com.

Show Notes

We started off the episode with “I Knew It Was Love”, another track from “Songbook”, Dizzy & Fay‘s great new collection of original jazz songs that really do sound like timeless standards. Dizzy and Fay feature Canadian singer-songwriter and pianist Mark Lalama as Dizzy, and Juno nominated singer-songwriter Amanda Walther (who is one half of acclaimed folk-roots duo Dala) as Fay.

Margot Merah is half of Dutch folk duo The Lasses (with Sophie Janna). She has just released “Standing Still”, the first single from “Take Heart”, her first solo recording, which is due in 2022. The song was inspired by Margot trying to cope with illness during the recording of the new album.

“During the recording of the album I got very sick. It was a very scary time and I couldn’t do anything but sit and wait and hope. So time was really standing still. And the truth is that even when my world was falling apart, there were moments of beauty.”

“Couldn’t Love You More” is one of our favourite songs from the late great John Martyn, and one that first appeared on John’s 1977 album “One World”. Fellow UK singer-songwriter Katie Spencer has recorded a beautiful version of it on her three song EP of John Martyn songs, “Hurt In Your Heart”, which also features former John Martyn band members Alan Thomson on fretless bass and Spencer Cozens on piano. We’ve now played two of the three songs on EP. We’re starting to wish that Katie would record a full album of John Martyn songs.

Irish singer-songwriters Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill have collaborated on a wonderful new album “In The Game”. It’s a song cycle that tells the story of a couple involved in a whirlwind romance – the highs and lows, the coming together… and the falling apart.

“Susan and I settled on the idea that the two people would be in a relationship with each other, although they may not still be together,” explains Mick. “The songs touch on their associated issues, their ups and downs, beginnings and ends, and what’s happening in both of their lives aside from the relationship.”

“The concept is the dark and the light of the nature of relationships. The joys of love, the depth of despair in love, the wild abandon of love, and then nostalgia for times past that they know they will never have again yet should be dearly cherished.”

A truly fantastic album, it’s one that is probably best appreciated as a whole, although it does contain some fabulous songs. We can’t speak highly enough of it.

On this episode we play the lead-off track “Trouble” which comes with a great video. We’ll definitely have more on a future episode.

The instrumental on this episode features some fine guitar picking from the late great Doc Watson joined by his favourite accompanist, son Merle, on “Carroll County Blues” from the all instrumental album “Songs Doc Didn’t Sing”, which came out last year. A set of Doc Watson tunes originally recorded in the early eighties, and not long before Merle’s death in a farm accident, it’s a great recording.

“Mercy On The Carolinas” comes from New England storytelling singer-songwriter Chris LaVancher‘s latest collection “After The Flood” which focuses on all aspects of life… family, work, love, childhood memories… and finding one’s place in the universe.

It’s a song that eerily describes a situation very similar to the terrible flooding they have been experiencing in British Columbia. Wildfires, the heat dome, and now devastating floods. They’ve had quite the year. Don’t let anyone tell you that climate change isn’t happening!

Julian Taylor‘s latest single is “100 Proof”, a cover of a song written by his friend Tyler Ellis and inspired by some of the major issues we are struggling with as a society, during these challenging times. Julian Taylor heard Tyler Ellis play the song on a livestream, and just knew he had to cover it.

Tyler Ellis writes: “‘100 Proof’ was written in late May of 2020. The news was not good. In fact, it was shocking, as Black Lives Matter protests of George Floyd’s murder were escalating, and images and stories of cruelty and hatred and evil were everywhere. Oh, and the potential of being killed by an invisible enemy was also on the menu, along with the social isolation that threat brought to us all. So this song for me was a bit of an antidote to all that, and a bit of a guide for somehow managing it all.”

Julian Taylor is currently in the studio working on the follow-up to “The Ridge”, his very well received 2020 album – one of our favourite albums of last year.

We wrapped the episode with Wiarton ON’s Josh Ritchie and the title track of his latest album “Love At The End Of The World”, which while focusing on some of the challenges we are facing as a society: systemic racism, greed and selfishness, also reminds us that where there is love there is hope. Change is possible.

“With this record I opened up about more serious topics. A number of songs are directly influenced by my experience organizing and leading a Black Lives Matter event, but another theme of my writing was dealing with the fact that as a young person we are inheriting a broken and burning world, and we are forced to be the generation to stand up and do something about it.”

“This record does talk a lot about systemic racism, the greed and brokenness of our society and the pressures of having to fight against all that, however, it’s not meant to be sad; it’s meant to be a hopeful record that people who care about this kinda stuff can listen to when they feel alone or feel like giving up… to remind us that there actually is some love… even at the end of the world.”

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: John Wort Hannam.

Listen

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.)

Playlist

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)

Dizzy & Fay
I Knew It Was Love
Dizzy & Fay (2021, Fizzy Day Records) CDN

Margot Merah
Standing Still
(single) (2021, Self)

Katie Spencer
Couldn’t Love You More (feat. Alan Thomson & Spencer Cozens)
Hurt In Your Heart EP (2021, Self)

Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill
Trouble
In The Game (2021, Rosaleen Records)

Doc & Merle Watson
Carroll County Blues
Songs Doc Didn’t Sing (2020, FLi Records)

John Wort Hannam
Hurry Up Kid
Long Haul (2021, Black Hen Music) CDN

Interview: John Wort Hannam discussing his latest album “Long Haul”.

John Wort Hannam
Long Haul
Long Haul (2021, Black Hen Music) CDN

John Wort Hannam
Beautiful Mess (feat. Shaela Miller)
Long Haul (2021, Black Hen Music) CDN

Julian Taylor
100 Proof
(single) (2021, Self) CDN

Chris LaVancher
Mercy On The Carolinas
After The Flood (2021, Self)

Josh Ritchie
Love At The End Of The World
Love At The End Of The World (2021, Self) CDN

About the author

JAN HALL

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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