Folk Roots Radio Episode 636: feat. The Slocan Ramblers – Up The Hill And Through The Fog & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 636: feat. The Slocan Ramblers - Up the Hill And Through The Fog & More New Releases

Frank Evans, banjo player with the wonderful Canadian bluegrass band The Slocan Ramblers joins us on Episode 636 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about their latest album “Up the Hill And Through The Fog”. A band that are clearly on the rise, The Slocan Ramblers were the International Bluegrass Music Association‘s Momentum Band of the Year in 2020. They also picked up a Juno Award Nomination for their last album, the excellent Queen City Jubilee from 2018. The Slocan Ramblers will be touring extensively in Canada and elsewhere this summer. As always, we wrap up the rest of the episode with more new releases and this time around we hear from Amy Speace, Tekla Waterfield & Jeff Fielder, Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan, Jocelyn Pettit, Sultans of String, Tami Neilson, The Dustbowl Daddies and Michael McDermott. 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 live show opportunities are harder to come by. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020

Interview

Canadian bluegrass band The Slocan Ramblers are down to a trio after bassist Alistair Whitehead decided to step away from the band to spend more time at home on the family farm. The current line-up is Frank Evans (banjo/vocals), Adrian Gross: (mandolin) and Darryl Poulsen (guitar/vocals) with support from bassist Charles James who also played on the Slocans’ latest album “Up the Hill and Through the Fog”.

Rooted in tradition, fearlessly creative and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans have become a leading light of today’s acoustic music scene. With a reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship and an uncanny ability to convert anyone within earshot into a lifelong fan, The Slocans have been winning over audiences from Merlefest to RockyGrass and everywhere in between.

On ‘Up the Hill and Through the Fog’, the all-star Canadian roots ensemble channels the past two years of loss into a surprisingly joyous collection of twelve songs intended to uplift and help make sense of the world. Bluegrass music is nothing short of catharsis for The Slocan Ramblers.

Though the past few years have brought the group accolades, that same momentum was abruptly halted by the pandemic’s brutal impact on live music. Over the next year, bandmates Adrian Gross and Darryl Poulsen both lost close family members and their bassist decided to step back to spend more time at home. They channeled these tumultuous changes into some of their most honest and direct compositions yet.

‘Up the Hill and Through the Fog’ showcases the breadth of their varied influences while staying true to their roots in the rough and tumble bluegrass scene of Toronto’s no-nonsense bars and dancehalls. From Frank Evan’s classic, dusty vocals, to John Hartford-inspired lyrical musings, it’s all buttressed by impeccable musicianship, and emotionally raw songwriting from the three core members. This is roots music without pretension, art powerful enough to cut through the fog of the past two years and chart a more hopeful course forward.

After two years of booking tour dates then having to cancel them again because of COVID, The Slocan Ramblers are looking forward to being back out on the road this summer. 

They will be appearing at the inaugural event for The Skol House in beautiful Belwood ON on July 1 at 6pm with support from Rich Burnett and Jesse Corrigan. GET TICKETS!

They will also be appearing at this year’s Home County Folk Festival in London ON, July 15-16, Canmore Folk Music Festival, July 31 – August 1 and in Kingsville ON at the Greenway Jam (formerly Kingsville Folk Music Festival), August 12-13.

To check out all of their tour dates, visit slocanramblers.com.

Show Notes

We started off the episode with Americana/Folk singer-songwriter Amy Speace and “Why I Wake Early” from her new EP “Tucson”. It’s a song she wrote at the start of the pandemic, during a time spent on what Amy calls her healing journey, while staying at a retreat centre in Arizona and receiving treatment for depression triggered by the death of her father. The song is all about getting up early at 4:30am to settle the mind and prepare for the day – a time for meditation, reading and reflection, and in Amy’s case that would be include the devotional poems of Mary Oliver.

Folk Roots Radio host Jan Hall is also a very early riser. She gets out of bed at 4:45am every morning to prepare for her hour-long dawn walk along Lake Erie – the best part of her day, every day, 365 days a year.

“Trouble In Time” is the title track from the latest recording by Seattle based husband and wife team Tekla Waterfield & Jeff Fielder, an album which was written in response to the challenging world events we are experiencing in this modern age.

Scottish Singer-Songwriter Karine Polwart and pianist and composer Dave Milligan have recorded a beautiful version of traditional song “The Parting Glass” for their intimate and stripped back duo album, “Still As Your Sleeping”.

This episode’s instrumental comes from West Coast Canadian fiddle player and step dancer Jocelyn Pettit. You can find the self-written “Transatlantic Jigs” (“Dawning” and “Tides and Currents”) on Jocelyn’s third release “Wind Rose”, an album of original compositions inspired by home and travel, alongside some traditional and contemporary favourites.

“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” was written by Sonny Bono and originally performed by Cher and Nancy Sinatra. Sultans of String have recorded their own version, featuring guest vocalists Tara Salah Moneka and Ahmed Moneka for their latest world folk album, “Sanctuary: The Refuge Project”.

“Careless Woman”, the latest single from country soul singer-songwriter Tami Neilson was inspired by a 1938 collection of ‘Dating Tips’ in Parade Magazine. You’ll be able to find it on her upcoming album Kingmaker.

Tami Neilson will be appearing at this year’s Hillside Festival which takes place July 22-24, and back live on the island at Guelph Lake for the first time since 2019. Check out the 2022 line-up HERE.

Ottawa’s folky roots rockers The Dustbowl Daddies are a fabulous live band. The rousing “I Am Walking” from their second album “Boom And Bust Economies Of Love” is the perfect song to get people up on their feet and dancing.

We wrapped up the episode with Michael McDermott and the fun “Pack The Car” from his concept album of sorts about any town USA, “St. Paul’s Boulevard”. It’s a song that Jan will definitely be playing on her morning walks, because then she’ll walk faster.

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: The Slocan Ramblers

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)

Amy Speace
Why I Wake Early (for Mary Oliver)
Tucson (2022, Proper Records / Windbone Records)

Tekla Waterfield & Jeff Fielder
Trouble In Time
Trouble In Time (2021, Self)

Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan
The Parting Glass
Still As Your Sleeping (2021, Hudson Records)

Jocelyn Pettit
Transatlantic Jigs
Wind Rose (2022, Self) CDN

The Slocan Ramblers
I Don’t Know
Up The Hill And Through The Fog (2022, SloMusic) CDN

Interview: Frank Evans, banjo player with The Slocan Ramblers discussing their new album “Up The Hill And Through The Fog”.

The Slocan Ramblers
Harefoot’s Retreat
Up The Hill And Through The Fog (2022, SloMusic) CDN

The Slocan Ramblers
You Said Goodbye
Up The Hill And Through The Fog (2022, SloMusic) CDN

Sultans of String
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) [feat. تارة صلاح مونيكا & Ahmed Moneka] Sanctuary: The Refuge Project (2021, Self) CDN

Tami Neilson
Careless Woman
Kingmaker (2022, Outside Music) CDN

The Dustbowl Daddies
I Am Walking
Boom And Bust Economies Of Love (2021, Self) CDN

Michael McDermott
Pack The Car
St. Paul’s Boulevard (2022, Pauper Sky Records)

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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