Folk Roots Radio Episode 666: feat. Big Little Lions – AMPM & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 666: feat. Big Little Lions - AMPM & More New Releases

Helen Austin and Paul Otten, who make music as the transcontinental songwriting partnership Big Little Lions, join us on Episode 666 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about “AMPM” – their first concept recording, and an album of songs based around a day in the life. As always with Helen and Paul, it’s a great conversation – and lots of fun! We wrap up the episode with more of the latest new releases, and this time around we check out new music from Sousou & Maher Cissoko, Aspen Jacobsen, Terra Spencer with Ben Caplan, Bruce Cockburn, Reg Meuross and Mary Gauthier. 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


Despite being based nearly three thousand miles apart, Helen Austin (from Vancouver Island) and Paul Otten (from Springboro, OH) are prolific songwriting partners. During the COVID pandemic Big Little Lions released a new song a month, before wrapping everything up as their excellent 2022 album “Happy Accident”. They are now back with their seventh long player and first concept album, “AMPM” – 11 songs based around the daily challenges we all face; and including songs about anxiety and self-hate, the grind of daily life, the perils of parenting, and the value of community and forgiveness. AMPM comes with all the hallmarks of their music – playful and thought-provoking lyrics, tight harmonies and catchy tunes.

The CD version of AMPM comes with an eight page lyric booklet and a special recipe for Blackberry Apple Crumble Ice Cream courtesy of ‘little lion’, Helen Austin.

Visit Big Little Lions online at

Show Notes

We kicked off the episode with the song “Små Små Händer” from multi-award winning Sengalese/Swedish duo Sousou & Maher Cissoko. You can find it on the recent Putumayo EP release “Acoustic World 2” as well as Sousou and Maher’s 2018 album, “Made Of Music”.

“We are constantly working on finding and developing our expressions, creating our own songs, opening our hearts and finding our own voices. Times change and we are living in a global world where everything is connected. We want to continue to give comfort, share hope and love around the world!”

Michigan based teen singer-songwriter Aspen Jacobsen shows maturity beyond her years on “Enough”, a song she wrote about facing up to social anxiety, and wondering whether you can ever be ‘enough’. You can find it on Aspen’s debut album “Arsonist Daughter”.

“When people see me perform on stage, they would never guess that I suffer from social anxiety. As a college student, I finally stopped worrying so much about what my peers were thinking about me because I realized that I may never see many of them again after graduation! I started to think more about how I saw myself. While struggling with my own self image, I wrote this song. It’s good to remind ourselves of our own needs and balancing that with those we wish to give to as well.”

“Somewhere” is a beautiful song from Nova Scotia’s Terra Spencer, produced by Ben Caplan. We’ve been waiting to play this song on this show for quite a while. You can find it on their excellent collaboration “Old News”.

“Haiku” is the only instrumental on Bruce Cockburn‘s critically acclaimed album “O Sun O Moon”. When releasing his latest recording, Bruce admitted to feeling all of his 78 years, but he’s still determined to keep going. It’s so good to hear him playing, and continuing to push boundaries. “O Sun O Moon” is truly fabulous. We’ll have more from it on a future episode.

“I just don’t want to ever keep doing the same thing. I’m grateful that I can keep on doing anything at this point. My body doesn’t hold up and perform the way it once did.”

“Good Morning Mr Colston” comes from “Stolen From God”, the fifteenth album from English singer-songwriter Reg Meuross, a recording that focuses on England’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade – in particular in the South West of England.

Edward Colston was a Bristol merchant, entrepreneur and philanthropist – whose life’s work was commemorated in the city of Bristol by a statue and his name on several public buildings. Edward Colston has now finally been revealed as heavily involved in the forcible kidnapping and transportation of many thousands of Africans.

”I realised how little I knew about Black History in Britain; how little I’d been taught growing up; how little I knew of Empire and how it was made; how little I knew of the grand mansions and sprawling estates, and the enormous handed-down wealth, and the great men and women of history who symbolised greatness and colonial and racial superiority and to a large extent how their greatness was achieved, and at what cost to others.”

We wrapped things up with Mary Gauthier, showing her gratitude for the wonderful city of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands – a country she tours often and one where she picked up her first record deal. You can find “Amsterdam” on Mary’s latest album “Dark Enough To See The Stars”.

“I have a long history with Amsterdam. My first record deal was on a Dutch label, and I tour there regularly, and much of Mercy Now was written at my favorite hotel there. To return to that hotel and be able to share that with the person I love and show her the city… It’s complicated – because all around the edges was the pandemic. But you’ve got to express your joy – a joy that’s not free from pain. There’s grief all around us, but there’s this ability to still love and still be aware that the sky is beautiful and the hand that I’m holding is filled with love.”

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!

Photo Credit: Big Little Lions.


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

Sousou & Maher Cissoko
Små Små Händer
Acoustic World 2 EP (2022, Putumayo)

Aspen Jacobsen
Arsonist Daughter (2022, Self)

Terra Spencer with Ben Caplan
Old News (2022, Self) CDN

Bruce Cockburn
O Sun O Moon (2023, True North Records) CDN

Big Little Lions
Oh It’s You Again
AMPM (2023, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Interview: Helen Austin and Paul Otten chat about “AMPM”, the new album by Big Little Lions.

Big Little Lions
Worth The Time
AMPM (2023, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Big Little Lions
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
AMPM (2023, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Big Little Lions
AMPM (2023, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Big Little Lions
Why Won’t My Brain Stop
AMPM (2023, Fallen Tree Records) CDN

Reg Meuross
Good Morning Mr Colston
Stolen From God (2023, Hatsongs)

Mary Gauthier
Dark Enough To See The Stars (2022, In The Black / Thirty Tigers)

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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