Folk Roots Radio Episode 660: The Poetry & Music Of Bob Jensen

Folk Roots Radio Episode 660: The Poetry & Music Of Bob Jensen

We’re giving over the whole of Episode 660 of Folk Roots Radio to a very engaging conversation with Canadian poet and singer-songwriter Bob Jensen. Bob Jensen has been writing poems and songs all his life – he also has some great stories to share. An artist who very much likes to keep busy, Bob Jensen released “Live In Australia” (which was recorded in Brisbane with Celtic guitarist Tony McManus) in 2020; and in 2021, he released “For The Sake Of The Song”, a ten song cover song collection. Bob Jensen was also the guiding light behind the 2022 release of an updated version of protest song “Which Side Are You On?”, by a group of artists under the name ‘Artists For Action’. Bob Jensen is about to release “The Blarney Session”, a solo spoken word performance recorded in Port Fairy, Australia. So, settle down and enjoy The Poetry and Music of Bob Jensen on Folk Roots Radio. 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.

Best 2020


Canadian singer-songwriter and poet Bob Jensen started out his career as a troubadour singer-songwriter, and released his first folk recording “First Time Since August” in 1984. He also wrote an award-winning novel, The Matchbox Funeral, a dark but humorous take on growing up in Dalhousie NB.

After stepping away from music to raise his family, Bob Jensen returned in 2014 and started to release some of the poetry he had been working on.

“Prayer To Morning” (2019) is Bob Jensen’s second album of his poetry. The collection, which was produced by Chris Corrigan, features the music of Bach (cello by Natalie Williams Calhoun) alongside original guitar compositions by Chris Corrigan and British singer-songwriter, Jake Morley.

“Prayer to Morning is largely a nostalgic look at my early childhood and adolescence growing up in Northern New Brunswick. The collection also spotlights a musical version of the poem Tampa, which chronicles my time living on the streets that city in the early 1980s. Tampa was actually recently recorded by New York City bluesman, Guy Davis. Several of the works are nature-inspired and A Heavy Millstone tackles the issue of sexual abuse by clergy, something that touched many of my friends and family members.”

Bob Jensen toured Australia with guitarist Tony McManus toured Australia in March of 2020, performing at the fabled Port Fairy Folk Festival as well as in theatres, clubs and small halls in Victoria and Queensland. The album “Live in Australia,” recorded on that tour in Brisbane, was released in October of 2020.

In 2021, Bob Jensen released “For The Sake Of The Song”, a collection of ten songs recorded with producer, Chris Corrigan and musicians from Sweden to Vancouver Island.

“I never set out to make another record. I would have bet the farm that I would never make music again. I first decided to record a song again while working on an album of spoken word poetry with Chris Corrigan, who produced this record and played guitar on all the tracks. I had been thinking about covering Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time and one day, we just did it. To my genuine surprise, it turned out pretty good, so we did another, Colorado Girl (Townes Van Zandt), which I also thought sounded okay. By this time I was enjoying the process so much, I decided to make a whole record of cover songs – songs that for the most part had been with me for a very long time, some close to 50 years. The concept I came up with was that we would record songs by great writers, but not their most popular releases. If I was going to try to breathe new life into some older songs, I reckoned, I would choose some of the more obscure ones that I really loved. I’m guessing that unless you are fan of the singer-songwriter genre from days past, that many of the songs on this record will be new to you, and that really, is the whole point.”

“I have been fortunate to work with some of these artists as a booking agent, and some of them I am lucky to call friends. Others, like Woody (Guthrie) and Leonard (Cohen), are artists who have had a profound impact on my life. I do not expect to break any sales records with this album. I made it, rather, as the title says, for the sake of the songs, for the simple joy of creating music. These are songs that deserve to be sung.”

“Which Side Are you On?” is a union song written by Florence Reese in 1931. After a friend suggested that the time was right for a re-boot, Bob Jensen reworked the lyrics as a commentary on the resurgence of fascism around the world – the goal of the project being to raise a strong and passionate voice from the folk community to encourage people to talk about the rise of the far right.

Which Side Are You On?, which was produced by chris Corrigan in Charlottetown, and released in 2021 by a collective of artists under the name Artists for Action. A folk supergroup, Artists For Action featured (in alphabetical order) Black Umfolosi (Zimbabwe), Ray Bonneville (Canada), Bruce Cockburn (Canada), Guy Davis (USA), Ani DiFranco (USA), Maria Dunn (Canada), Bob Jensen (Canada), James Keelaghan (Canada), Lucy MacNeil (Canada), Tony McManus (Scotland), Moulettes (England), Oysterband (England), Richard Perso (Australia), Heather Rankin (Canada), Martin Simpson (England) and Jon Weaver (Canada).

Bob Jensen released another poetry volume, “A Sense Of Wonder: 50 poems by Bob Jensen” (poems written between 2014-2021) in 2021. There is also a companion audiobook. Zimbabwe’s Black Umfolosi also released an entire album of Bob Jensen’s poetry, in an a cappella format in 2021.

Bob Jensen has just released “Nova Scotia Breeze”, a song he recorded nearly thirty years ago but never released.

“Twenty-eight years ago I won the PEI Songwriters Association Songwriting Contest for a song called Nova Scotia Breeze. Part of the prize was getting to record the song, and I chose to do it in a very C&W style, with a heavy emphasis on steel guitar. However, I lost the tape shortly after making it, and looked high and low over the years for it. A couple of months ago, I came across it by accident, and decided to send it out into the world.”

Bob Jensen will be releasing “The Blarney Session” in the coming weeks, a live poetry reading and workshop recorded at a bookstore in Port Fairy, Australia in 2020.

“This album has no musical accompaniment and is all about the poetry, with lots of commentary.”

Among other projects Bob Jensen is working is “Other Voices” A collection of artists from around the world performing his music and poetry, it features Sylvia Tyson, Moulettes (UK), Guy Davis (USA), Black Umfolosi (Zimbabwe), Shane Howard (Australia) and twice Pulitzer-nominated American poet, John Guzlowski. Bob hopes it will be released later this year.

“Some artists have chosen to read poems, while others are turning my poetry into songs.”

Also in the pipeline: two new cover singles (Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”, and The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”), a Leonard Cohen musical, and a book of poems based on works by the painter Marc Chagall. Phew!

For more information about the poetry and music of Bob Jensen, visit

Bob Jensen also runs Jensen Music International, Inc., a radio promotion and booking agency.

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: Bob Jensen.


You can listen to this episode by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on-demand, via Soundcloud and wherever you get your podcasts – including on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform).


Dave McEathron
His Mother Called Him Angel (Instrumental Version) (Theme)
Abandoned Companions (2018, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen with Tony McManus (guitar)
To God In Three Small Words (poem)
Live In Australia (March 2020) (2020, Self) CDN

Interview: Bob Jensen chatting about his poetry and music.

Bob Jensen
Nova Scotia Breeze
(single) (2023, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen with Natalie Williams Calhoun (cello)
Prayer To Morning (poem)
Prayer To Morning (2019, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen with Jake Morley (guitar)
The Poet’s Advice To His Younger Self (poem)
Prayer To Morning (2019, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen
Cow With Parasol (poem)
The Blarney Session (2023, Self)

Bob Jensen with Tony McManus (guitar)
A Heavy Millstone (poem)
Live In Australia (2020, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen
My Skies (feat. James Keelaghan)
For The Sake Of The Song Vol. 1 (2021, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen
Pastures Of Plenty (feat. Emma LeBlanc)
For The Sake Of The Song Vol. 1 (2021, Self) CDN

Bob Jensen
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You (feat. Emma LeBlanc)
For The Sake Of The Song Vol. 1 (2021, Self) CDN

Artists For Action
Which Side Are You On? (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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