Folk Roots Radio Episode 637: We’re All About The Music! (It Is What It Is Edition)

Folk Roots Radio Episode 637: We’re All About The Music! (It Is What It Is Edition)

Join us on Episode 637 of Folk Roots Radio for more of the latest new releases, and this time around they are all by Canadian artists. Stay with us as we check out great new music from Ian Lake, Madison Violet, Fortunate Ones, Tara MacLean, Sultans of String, Morgan Toney, Joey Nowyuk, JC Campbell, Adam Ruzzo, Meredith Lazowski, The Goddamsels, Shaela Miller, Noah Reid and Youngtree & The Blooms. 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

Show Notes

We started off the episode with actor and storytelling singer-songwriter Ian Lake from Toronto with the title track from his debut album “What It Is”, a recording he worked on during pandemic lockdown with his producer Matthew Barber.

“The lockdown of 2020, combined with some big regrets, and a lot of deep personal work, inspired my debut album, ‘What It Is’. I started writing it at a real low point and, through its evolution, found a great deal of courage, resolve, hope and acceptance. Which is ultimately the message of the record.”

Lisa MacIsaac and Brenley MacEachern make music together as Madison Violet. They have just released their eleventh studio album – appropriately entitled “Eleven”, a new recording that reflects on the hardships and beauty of life and all of its experiences.

Hopeful, uplifting, and filled with skillfully crafted melodies that illuminate their stories, Madison Violet’s autobiographical eleventh album showcases the unifying power of storytelling, and the ability we all have to overcome.

“We always hope that, though these songs are personal and written from our hearts, listeners will be able to find themselves in these experiences and stories”.

Madison Violet wrote “Sycamore” about having an eating disorder and the importance of not suffering in silence. This song actually speaks to all types of challenges we face in life – and to those who aim to provide support, and the importance of letting people know they are not alone.

“Anchor” comes from “That Was You And Me”, the pandemic times inspired release from Newfoundland’s Catherine Allan and Andrew James O’Brien who make music together as Fortunate Ones.

“‘Anchor’ is a four-minute lifetime — a reflection on what was, what is and what will be. It is an earnest and assured declaration that, through it all, we’ve had and will always have each other. ‘You and me sailing out on the sea / You and me sailing / It’s where we should be / I know you can see.'”

Prince Edward Island singer-songwriter Tara MacLean has released a new version of “If I Fall”, which was produced by Daniel Ledwell, to support her upcoming autobiography “Song of the Sparrow”. You’ll be able to find it on “Sparrow”, a new compilation to support the memoir’s release.

“I originally wrote “If I Fall” as the theme for a TV show called Felicity in the late 1990s. The whole song came together in ten minutes on my piano. It was a wonderful exercise as I had never written for a project other than my own music, which allowed me to take an unabashedly hook-filled approach. I wanted the words to be inspiring and encouraging, to make listeners feel as if there is nothing they can’t do, that we have everything inside of us that we need to keep going. While the song wasn’t used for the show, my record label loved it and we ended up releasing it as a single in 2000.”

The instrumental on this episode comes from 3-time JUNO Award nominees and 4 time Canadian Folk Music Award winners Sultans of String. “Khatenche” features Amchok Gompo from Tibet on flute. You can find it on “Sanctuary”, the second album Sultans of String have produced as part of their Refuge Project which is centred around the positive contributions refugees and new immigrants have made to Canada, …their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.

“The larger Refuge Project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada. We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here, and bring their extraordinary talents with them, in this case, music. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you.”

Inuit singer-songwriter Joey Nowyuk hails from Pangnirtung, Nunavut. The inuktitut song Skungilunga (When I Close My Eyes) comes from his 2021 album “Tumitit”. It’s also now been included on the Putumayo Discovery EP “Acoustic World”.

22 year old Mi’kmaq fiddler and singer Morgan Toney from Wagmatcook First Nation in Nova Scotia brings together his love of fiery Cape Breton Island fiddling and the traditional songs of his ancestors on his debut album “First Flight”. On this episode we play “Mi’kmaq Honour Song”.

“The Racist” comes from “Lately”, the new album from Winnipeg MB indigenous singer-songwriter JC Campbell. It’s a collaboration with producer Marc Meriläinen who makes music himself as the artist Nadjiwan. On The Racist, JC Campbell speaks on behalf of his people, and how they are taught about racism from a very early age. Although he describes this song as somewhat bleak, he believes it also retains hope that society has the capacity to evolve.

Adam Ruzzo is a folk singer-songwriter from Nova Scotia. “Chilcotin Dream” comes from his 16-track Canadian travelogue “The Land, The Sea, The People”, an album inspired by travelling the length and breadth of the country by bus.

“Tucked away in BC’s remote interior stands the Chilcotin mountain range. Stunning peaks, endless pine forests, remote rivers and lakes, and many MANY characters. I stayed there for a couple weeks on the Kleena Kleene river with an author named Chris Czjakowski. When I was not making a mess of her homestead with my inexperienced hands, I was taking in the scenery, the people I met and got a taste of what it was like to live the Chilcotin Dream.”

“Prairie” is a song inspired by the breathtaking landscape of the prairies of northern Saskatchewan from Toronto singer-songwriter Meredith Lazowski. You’ll be able to find it on her upcoming debut album “Other Way Home”.

“I was trying to capture my strong emotional relationship with the Prairie landscape in both my lyrics and my melody. As a visual artist, I sketched these landscapes and searched my photographs for inspiration. The process was organic. It started with the rhythm and the instrumentals, followed by the lyrics. Emphasized is the repetitive, sonorous instrumentals emulating the Prairie landscape and the westerly winds.”

Albertan singer-songwriters Mallory Chipman and Freddi MacDougall make music together as the Edmonton based country/Americana duo The Goddamsels. The song we play on this episode “Wayward Daughter” is the title track from their new EP.

“‘Wayward Daughter’ is a special kind of love song, a long distance love song between two dear friends that I wrote about Freddi and I, while she was living in Montreal and I was in Edmonton.” (Mallary Chipman)

“‘Wayward Daughter’ means a lot to me as it feels like our theme song. It was written about our friendship and I think it is special in that there aren’t many songs like it. One of the things that makes this EP stand out is that we have put a lot of thought into writing and arranging for two lead vocalists. We are also proud to be creating space for new narratives in the country music scene with our choice of content and storytelling.” (Freddi MacDougall)

And staying in Alberta, “Tidal Wave” is the latest single from Lethbridge singer-songwriter Shaela Miller.

“‘Tidal Wave’ is an in-depth confession of realizations and struggles of the heart and how a woman can feel, inside and outside of love, like they are drowning in the staggering, multi-dimensional duties of life. It’s about how the expected and demanding responsibilities women face in life through the roles of motherhood and romantic partnerships, can leave us feeling completely void of fire, passion and inspiration, yet the expectations remain and we just have to power through it all.”

Schitt’s Creek actor Noah Reid also happens to be a great singer-songwriter. “Minneapolis” is a song he wrote about the challenges touring musicians face during the often unglamorous and sometimes lonely times they spend out on the road. You can find it on his excellent new release, “Adjustments”.

“I wrote this album during a transitional period where a lot of tectonic shifts were taking place in my life. I was getting married, Schitt’s Creek was coming to an end, the pandemic was beginning .Some of the changes were more internal and others were more at the societal level, but they all involved a shift in my thinking about the world around me.”

We wrapped up the episode with Newfoundland’s Peter Willie Youngtree & his band The Blooms, and their latest single “Heaven Ain’t A Lonely Road”.

“This song was written for and about one of my earliest music mentors after a series of conversations we had while he was in the hospital awaiting a potentially life-saving procedure. Strangely, the song actually began a few weeks earlier – in a dream, in which I was writing a song at the piano with that same mentor standing beside me. While visiting him in the hospital, I found his attitude toward life and friendship enlightening, and the immense gratitude he expressed to me and to all those around him was overwhelming and beautiful. I knew what he was expressing at that time was worth putting into a song. It all came together very quickly after that.”

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: John Hain 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)

Ian Lake
What It Is
What It Is (2022, Self) CDN

Madison Violet
The Sycamore
Eleven (2022, Passenger Sounds) CDN

Fortunate Ones
That Was You And Me (2022, Old Farm Pony Records) CDN

Tara MacLean
If I Fall (Sparrow Version)
(single) (2022, Self) CDN

Sultans of String
Khatenche (feat. Amchok Gompo)
Sanctuary: The Refuge Project (2021, Self) CDN

Morgan Toney
Mi’kmaq Honour Song
First Flight (2022, Ishkōdé Records) CDN

Joey Nowyuk
Sikungilunga (When I Close My Eyes)
Acoustic World EP (2022, Putumayo) CDN

JC Campbell
The Racist
Lately )2022, Meriläinen Müsic) CDN

Adam Ruzzo
Chilcotin Dream
The Land, The Sea, The People (2022, Self) CDN

Meredith Lazowski
(single) (2022, Self) CDN

The Goddamsels
Wayward Daughter
Wayward Daughter EP (2022, Self) CDN

Shaela Miller
Tidal Wave
(single) (2022, Self) CDN

Noah Reid
Adjustments (2022, Self) CDN

Youngtree & The Blooms
Heaven Ain’t A Lonely Road
(single) (2022, Self) 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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