Folk Roots Radio Episode 658: We’re All About The Music! (Earth Day Edition)
We’re pleased to bring you a very special hour of programming for Earth Day on Episode 658 of Folk Roots Radio. We celebrate the beauty of the planet we all call home, with a cautious reminder that we all need to what we can to ensure that the Earth remains habitable for generations to come. There are some great tunes in here, and, we’ve tried to keep the episode uplifting and inspiring. Join us as we check out music from Moonfruits, Sloan Wainwright, The Strange Valentines, Windborne, Jayme Stone, Colleen Kattau, Mary Madden, Beth DeSombre, Rebecca Folsom, John McCutcheon, Grover Mollineaux, The Rough & Tumble, Sultans of String, The Scooches and Tom Chapin. Remember, If you like the artists you hear on this show and want to support them, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music, and then you’ll really make a difference to their income at a time when it is becoming much more difficult to make a living as a musician. Check out the full playlist below.
We started off our special Earth Day edition of Folk Roots Radio with bilingual folk duo Moonfruits who feature music and life partners Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire. “Brittle Earth” comes from their latest album “Salt” – twelve songs that weave together stories about family, responsibility and loss in this era of climate change and deepening inequality. It’s an excellent album and definitely worth checking out. Moonfruits are also great live. Whether they are singing in English or French, their harmonies are just beautiful.
We also heard from Sloan Wainwright with “Cool Morning”, the title track from her 2003 album.
“I wrote ‘Cool Morning’ on my birthday, twenty years ago – at the end of May, in my hometown of Katonah NY, while looking out the window and reflecting on all the life and all the beauty that I was witnessing there, right in front of me – and the all gratitude I felt in that moment.”
We also squeezed in Nova Scotia’s The Strange Valentines with “Small Tree”, a protest song in support of sustainable forestry from their earth friendly album “Dear Mother Earth”.
“Dear Mother Earth… we love you – we’re sorry – we need you! The overall feel of this album is one of love and kindness, for the earth, and for each other.”
“Earth’s Burdens” is a song by vocal group Windborne based on a poem by Earnest Jones. The poem, which was written in 1848, expresses concern about species becoming extinct. In fact, sixteen species went extinct in the 1800s due to overhunting or habitat destruction. The current on-going catastrophe has been a long time in the making.
Two-time Juno Award-winning musician and producer Jayme Stone is releasing a series of recent collaborations as singles over the next few months. The first is “Josie-O”, a reimagining of an Appalachian fiddle tune that also features Brooklyn-based Baby States.
“Baby States are a Brooklyn-based band featuring Benjamin Lazar Davis (Maya Hawke, Okkervil River), Alec Spiegelman (Cuddle Magic, Anaïs Mitchell) and Jeremy Gustin (Jesse Harris, Rubblebucket). This track is a kaleidoscopic reimagining of Appalachian fiddle tune ‘Josio-O’ that brings together hypnotic drones, West African rhythms and overlapping Steve Reich-like melodies.” (Jayme Stone)
Colleen Kattau from Cortland NY celebrates nature and our ability to grow our own food on her new single “In The Garden”.
“This song was inspired by my stepdaughter who created a video of her magical garden in full summer. We live on a land trust in rural Central New York where nature abounds. In early spring both she and I begin to harvest roots and herbs for medicines and teas and walk the forest for the strange and wonderful mushrooms that might appear to me there. We prepare the ground for the big vegetable gardens to come while starting seedlings inside to transplant when the soil warms. The growing season is short, so it is all hands on deck for April and May. Then late spring comes and so does the harvest of early greens, and the sacred strawberry. And the show goes on from there.”
“Nature is a gift that keeps on giving, a curative treasure for the mind and body. It is a joy to eat from the garden, but also to continuously learn about what bounty Mother Earth holds naturally – from the superfoods of stinging nettle and fungi to all kinds of wild berries that ripen in succession from spring, to summer through the fall. Perhaps most importantly being on the land is a lesson in stewardship, to take our cues from the wise traditional First Peoples nearby to give back in reciprocal relation, to tread lightly and feed the earth with another sapling planted, to leave much compost and many seeds and flowers left to begin the cycle of life all over again, and for me, to write songs about it.”
“In the blissful growing and harvesting time of year especially, I think of how this Earth IS the Eden we are destroying. I know that since the pandemic especially many people who were able to, grew gardens. I think there is a renewed consciousness to return to nature for healing and for abundance, and that leaves me hopeful for a chance survive.”
“Song For The Trees”, a song that celebrates the magic of forests and other wild places comes from “Wild Serenity”, the latest album from Santa Barbara CA based singer-songwriter Mary Madden.
“I have always believed in the magic of wild places. I spent many years living in the Pacific Northwest teaching music at a small schoolhouse in the mountains. The silence of the forest is a wonderful place to sing. “Song For The Trees” is a tribute to the ancient groves that inspired me to become a songwriter. More than a song, it is my heartfelt prayer.”
Beth DeSombre recorded her 2023 album “The Sea Beside Us” with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It tells stories of people whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, and the difficulties they face from increasing industrialization.
Boulder CO singer-songwriter Rebecca Folsom looks at the impact we are having on the environment while calling for positive change on “Home” which you can find on Rebecca’s latest album “Sanctuary”.
“…strong winds are blowing, anxiety growing, these seeds we’re sowing, the damage we’ve done
now is the time to honor this sacred place, calling us out to what we must face…” (lyric)
Acclaimed singer-songwriter John McCutcheon playfully imagines what it would be like if the planet could actually talk back to us. You can find “Earth” on his 2020 pandemic lockdown project “Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine”.
Grover Mollineaux from Lexington KY wrote “Speak Up, Speak Loud”, his song that celebrates the beauty of the world while performing at a local festival on a beautiful spring day.
“I was performing as a strolling musician at the local May Day Festival. It was a perfect spring day – sunny, warm, a gentle breeze and beautiful blue skies. At times, I just picked a simple lick on the guitar and, after several passes, the lick I was playing started to grow on me and I thought about adding some lyrics. Pete Seeger birthday had just passed. As I strolled along, I asked myself, What would Pete say to us about this beautiful day? By the end of the day, I had the structure to the song and just needed to polish it up.”
“A Little Less” is a song about the desire to consume less and make better choices. You can find it on “Only This Far”, the new album from Folk Roots Radio‘s favourite teeny tiny folk band, The Rough & Tumble. The Rough & Tumble’s music has been described as ‘a unique blend of dumpster-folk and thrift store-Americana’. We’re not sure that description really does them justice. Mallory Graham and Scott Tyler are multi-instrumentalists who like to play more than one instrument at the same time and produce a fuller sound than many four-piece bands. They also write really strong songs and are great live. They might be the perfect band for a house show. Don’t miss them if you get the chance!
Sultans of String have released “Our Mother the Earth”, another song recorded with legendary Chippewa Anishinaabe elder Dr.Duke Redbird. Duke Redbird was inspired to write the song by the idea that every country has a national anthem, yet there is no anthem for the planet as a whole.
“If people included an anthem to the Earth along with their national anthem at every event, it would serve to acknowledge our identity, values, and sense of pride in the fact that we are all children of the Earth.”
A Great Mystery
Created the Universe
And manifested a blue geosphere
A radiant planet
The marvelous Earth
The Mother who gave us birth
The genesis of all, we hold dear
With all the billions of stars in space
Only the Earth could create.
The perfect human birthing place
A little sphere of cosmic dust
Was the spark of spirit given to us
“We can use our imaginations, innovation, creativity, and capacity to evolve in a cooperative way with nature, in a symbiotic relationship. The definition of love is when another entity’s happiness is essential to our own. Right now, the happiness of the Earth is not essential to those industries that are exploiting her resources purely for profit. When we realize that we, as humans, are born fully integrated with the spirit of the Earth… we will replace exploiting with exploring and begin to truly love her.” (Duke Redbird)
You’ll be able to find “Our Mother the Earth”, Duke Redbird’s anthem for the planet on the Sultans of String upcoming album “Walking Through the Fire” which features collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists from across North America.
“Stop This Climate Change is the new single from The Scooches (formerly Banjo Nickaru and Western Scooches) that comes with a very clear message. Let’s stop feeling helpless and stop denying it’s happening. You’ll be able to find it on their forthcoming album, “Lift You Up”.
“Our goal for this song is to inspire people to roll up their sleeves and take action. The purple hands on our album cover symbolize the magic that comes with hard work! We recycle, compost, use compostable garbage bags, and bike or walk whenever we can. We can’t afford to deny our impact on the Earth. Let’s come together and truly believe we can create positive change.” (Betina Hershey)
We wrapped up our Earth Day episode with Tom Chapin and “This Pretty Planet”, a song Tom wrote in 2000 for his Grammy nominated family album of the same name. “This Pretty Planet” is sung in schools, by families and choirs across the world. It was also used to wake up the astronauts on the space shuttle.
Do what you can to help preserve this planet for future generations. And, remember Every little bit helps. There’s only one Earth!
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 – 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: Gerd Altmann 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.)
His Mother Called Him Angel (Instrumental Version) (Theme)
Abandoned Companions (2018, Self) CDN
Salt (2022, Self) CDN
Cool Morning (2003, Self)
The Strange Valentines
Dear Mother Earth (2022, Self) CDN
Of Hard Times & Harmony (2021, Wand’ring Feet Records)
Josie-O (feat. Baby States)
(single) (2023, Folklife Records) CDN
In The Garden
(single) (2023, WindLight Studio)
Song For The Trees
Wild Serenity (2023, Self)
The Sea Beside Us
The Sea Beside Us (2023, Self)
Sanctuary (2023, Self)
Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine (2020, Appalsongs)
Speak Up, Speak Loud
Walls & Doors (2010, Self)
The Rough & Tumble
A Little Less
Only This Far (2023, Self)
Sultans of String
Our Mother The Earth (feat. Duke Redbird)
Walking Through the Fire (2023, Self) CDN
Stop This Climate Change
Lift You Up (2023, On The Bol Records)
This Pretty Planet
This Pretty Planet (2000, 2023 Re-release) (2023, Sundance Music)
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