We have another hour of great new music to share with you on Episode 612 of Folk Roots Radio. 2021 has been a banner year for music. There is loads of wonderful new music out there and much of it from independent artists, who rarely get the exposure they deserve. It’s our absolute privilege to be able to share more of it with you on this episode. Join us on this episode as we hear from Over The Moon, Jessica Pearson & The East Wind, Jonathan Byrd , Moria Smiley & Tonality, Dave Clarke, Amanda Rheaume, Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill, Geordie Gordon, Andrea Ramoloo, Michael Logen and Jennifer Hanson, Ane Brun, Brandi Carlile, Rose Cousins with Tim Baker, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Bruce T Carroll and The Ebbs. 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 the episode with Craig Bignell and Suzanne Levesque who make music together as Canadian roots/swing duo Over The Moon. They’ve just released their second album, the 10 track “Chinook Waltz”, from which we play the sad, sweet “Lonesome Bluebird”.
“This song is basically about a beautiful young woman who is letting the fear of failure or the impression she might be making cause her to miss out on so many of life’s real experiences. She makes up for it by only focusing on her outer beauty and possessions.”
“Our concept for Chinook Waltz was to try and convey the feeling that one gets living in the foothills of Southwestern Alberta’s ranching community. It’s beyond beautiful, but also rugged and unforgiving; people help each other here, and a neighbour is just as important as family. Like John Denver’s song ‘Country Roads’ says: ‘Life is old there’.”
Craig and Suzanne joined us in the Folk Roots Radio studio in 2018 for a lovely chat about their music and debut album “Moondancer”. You can check out that interview HERE.
“Broken By You” is a sad break-up song, written by Jessica Pearson and Tara Shannon, from “On The Line”, the latest album by Jessica Pearson & The East Wind.
A song of gratitude for the life he has, “I Should Have Died” is the new single from award-winning singer-songwriter Jonathan Byrd.
“I somehow survived all the bad decisions I made in my life, and honestly the odds were against me. ‘It was dark all around me, and somehow the light found me.’”
I Should Have Died is the first song from Jonathan’s new project “Song Miners” which gives his fans the opportunity to follow along with the entire songwriting process – from the initial idea to the final recording, via Jonathan’s Patreon account, or YouTube.
“Fans of my songwriting often ask me very specific questions about the process of writing a particular song, but it’s difficult to remember years later what I did and how. So, I decided to start filming myself as I write. My Patreon community were able to watch the whole process unfold nearly in real time, watching me struggle for weeks to get to a place of inspiration, a place where they previously thought I started.”
“I think new writers get frustrated when the ideas don’t come together right away. I want people to see how hard it is for someone who has been a professional songwriter for twenty years. It’s about showing up to the notebook every day and doing a little bit. It’s about faith. You just have to stick it out… and maybe shout for help when required.”
In other (sad) news, Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys are no more. Jonathan parted company with awesome guitarist Johnny Waken and Austin McCall, the successor to the late great Paul Ford, in early December. A fantastic live band, they will be missed. A new beginning for everyone, though.
Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys joined us live in the studio appearance with Elliot Bronson in March 2015 – the day after a wonderful Guelph Roots show at Silence. Much fun was hard by all! You can relive that special broadcast HERE.
Moria Smiley has teamed up with members of choral vocal group Tonality to release a wonderful version of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Treat A Stranger Right”. Arranged by Moira Smiley, it features Hannah Rose Lewis from Tonality on lead vocal. It also comes with a must-see video.
“I feel directed and healed by the simplicity and humanity of these words during this confusing time of being human. These words eased me into creating this gentle, storytelling body percussion, and in September, I had the honour of gathering some friends from (recently Grammy-nominated) Tonality in Los Angeles to sing and move this song for you.”
Steel Rail guitarist Dave Clarke has released a fantastic guitar instrumental album “The Healing Garden” which charts both his relocation from Victoria BC back to Montreal, and healing journey from cancer. On this episode we play a tune he wrote for his mother, “Simonne”. The Healing Garden has been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the solo instrumental category. We’ll definitely dip into it again on a future episode.
“100 years” is the new single from Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume, a song of resistance and resurgence inspired by the words of Métis rebellion leader Louis Riel, one of the most misunderstood figures in Canadian history.
“100 Years is a song about the resistance and the resurgence of my people and all indigenous peoples here on Turtle Island. A song about the thousands of young bodies being uncovered at former residential school sites. A song about this generation, my generation, and generations to come, waking up, standing up, and taking back what is rightfully ours.”
“Freedom” is another song from “In The Game”, the fantastic collaboration between Irish singer-songwriters Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill – a concept album that tells the story of a relationship – from beginning to end. We cannot talk highly enough about this album, and as we mentioned previously – it is probably best enjoyed from start to finish, although it is full of great songs.
The subtitle for this episode “Find Your Place”, comes from the title of one of Geordie Gordon‘s songs from his lockdown album “The Tower”, which he recorded at home in his apartment in Toronto. A fabulous recording, it’s just about what you’d expect to hear if an artist who normally dabbles in electronica and pop, decided to make an introspective folk album. ‘Finding our place’ is something that many of us have been reflecting on during COVID times.
Andrea Ramolo is dreaming of a better world where equality, looking out for each other and ‘love’ are the order of the day on the title track of her pandemic release “Quarantine Dream”.
“The record’s about extreme hope, extreme fear, extreme loss, extreme loneliness, and extreme imagination — wishing and hoping for a better tomorrow.”
“Come Together” is the latest single from singer-songwriters Michael Logen and Jennifer Hanson. TV and film placement has become a lucrative market for the songwriter, and it’s an area of the industry where Michael Logen has been quite successful. This song will appear in the CBC TV show Heartland which we’ve heard described as perfect pandemic entertainment.
Ane Brun‘s beautifully fragile version of Lennon and McCartney’s “From Me To You” appeared on her “Rarities” album from 2013. It’s been given a new lease on life by virtue of being picked up for a holiday advertising campaign for the Kohls department store in the US, earning itself a re-release.
Brandi Carlile‘s pandemic release “In These Silent Days” has been critically acclaimed. On this episode we play the beautiful “This Time Tomorrow” which, like the rest of the album, was written with creative partners and bandmates, twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth, while in lockdown on Brandi’s Washington State property, where the Hanseroths and their families live on adjoining properties.
“Never before have the twins and I written an album during a time of such uncertainty and quiet solitude.”
“The Lullaby (My Oldest Love)” originally appeared on Rose Cousins’ 2020 album “Bravado” which picked up the Juno for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. Rose has just released a duet version with fellow Prince Edward Islander Tim Baker who wrote the song with her.
“We wrote the song together after a conversation over coffee revealed a theme that resonated deeply in both of us. Being a human is vulnerable and it’s hard to remember that the harsh voices in our heads are our own creations. We needed a lullaby for ourselves and that’s what we made. I’m glad we recorded this duet to honour how it felt to share the experience. Sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one is the greatest comfort.”
“It’s such a far cry from everything I’ve done before,” says Robert Plant. “I love the whole kaleidoscope of music that I’ve explored, but this is a place where you can think within the song, you can decide how to bring home an emotion. It’s another blend that we’ve got, and long may we have more of them.”
“One of my favourite parts of this is the songs and songwriters that I had never heard of,” says Alison Krauss. “Working with Robert, and with T Bone (Burnett), is always a great education in music history.”
Bruce T Carroll‘s “’Til It’s Time To Go” is a lovely ballad that reminds you that no matter where life takes you, geographically or spiritually, there is always, in the end, a return to where you began. You can find it on his third release, “First Bird To Sing”.
We wrapped things up with The Ebbs, an indie folk band based in Prince George BC who feature singer-songwriters William Kuklis and Joe Shea and fiddle virtuoso Finn Scott-Neff. “Home” comes from “Volume One”, their first album together.
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)
Over The Moon
Chinook Waltz (2021, Borealis Records) CDN
Jessica Pearson & The East Wind
Broken By You
On The Line (2020, Willow Sound Records) CDN
I Should Have Died
Song Miners (2021, Self)
The Healing Garden (2020, Crossties Music) CDN
(single) (2021, Ishkōdé Records) CDN
In The Game (2021, Rosaleen Records)
Find Your Place
The Tower (2021, Victory Pool) CDN
Quarantine Dream (2021, Self) CDN
From Me To You
Rarities (2021, Balloon Ranger Recordings)
This Time Tomorrow
In These Silent Days (2021, Low Country Sound / Elektra Records)
Bruce T Carroll
‘Til It’s Time To Go
First Bird To Sing (2021, Self)
Volume One (2021, Self) CDN