Playlist: Episode 180

This week’s show (December 20 2014) featured interviews and impromptu sessions recorded with Prince Edward Island based singer-songwriters Irish Mythen and Dennis Ellsworth recorded at the recent Folk Music Ontario conference. We also included some thought-provoking holiday songs alongside a new mystery theme and a guilty pleasure set celebrating Bill Withers election to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Our mystery theme was, rather appropriately for this time of year, all about “peace”. It’s a common sentiment yet probably a little too easy to trot out when you’re full of seasonal goodwill to all men and basking in the full glow of rampart consumerism, while over-indulging in all of the good things in life (and don’t have worry about the credit card bills until January). It’s just a pity that a desire for peace in the world doesn’t seem to last long past the holidays. Maybe if we all wish for ‘peace in the world’ forever Amen, this year we may eventually see a paradigm shift in how we treat others. Or maybe, I’ve just been indulging in too much of the Christmas spirit?

This week we started off with Nick Lowe and one of my favourite songs, “What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding”. Originally performed by Nick’s 70s band Brinsley Schwarz, this week we played a beautifully understated solo version done in his latter-day crooning style. We followed that with Guelph local Sam Turton recorded “At Home”, quite literally his house became a studio, for “We Want Peace” which features a choir that includes quite a few voices from Guelph’s vibrant music community. We also included a seven and a half minute demo of “A War For Love” by Jay Aymar recorded in 2013 that I hope makes its way on to an album one of these days. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Christmas singles – songs that are released at the start of the holiday season with the specific aim of reaching the top of the charts at Christmas have always been a big deal in the UK. These days, those that make it to the top of the charts at Christmas are usually either the winner of the latest TV singing reality show or singles put out for charitable causes. They do not sell anywhere near as many copies in the digital age, as they used to be when vinyl was king, but I still look forward to seeing who’ll be top of the pile at Christmas.

When I was growing up you’d also get lots of holiday songs recorded by major artists specifically written with Christmas in mind. I could probably track my life via holiday songs that were favourites at the time… Greg Lake, Slade, Mud, Wizzard, Elton John, Mel & Kim, Wham!, Band Aid… or not so favourite (to put it mildly)… Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney (both on multiple occasions). There may be a radio show in there though I suspect this one would have to go straight to podcast.

This week we played two Christmas singles as part of our mystery theme – Jona Lewie from 1980 with one of my guilty pleasures (I think it was a guilty pleasure on this show back in the day) with “Stop The Cavalry”, which interestingly wasn’t meant to be a Christmas single. Apparently it was written by Lewi as a protest song however the line ‘Wish I Was At Home For Christmas’ and the jaunty and festive brass band arrangement leant it to play around Christmas time. And the rest, as they say… is history.

And after that we played The Peace Collective with a very special version of the 1994 UK hit by The Farm, “All Together Now” featuring British artists from right across the musical spectrum, and recorded to commemorate a century since the Christmas truce of World War One when British and German troops laid down their weapons and made their way into no-man’s land to sing carols, swap gifts and play football. All profits from the release will go to the British Red Cross and the Shorncliffe Trust.

This week’s guilty pleasure was actually a set of classic songs by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers who will be inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. We started off with “Ain’t No Sunshine” from his 1971 album Just As I Am, produced by Booker T. Jones. The record featured musicians Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass guitar, Al Jackson, Jr. on drums, Stephen Stills on guitar and Bill Withers on vocals. The song reached Number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And after that “Lean on Me”, from 1972 and the first single from Bill’s second album, “Still Bill”. It was his first and only number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100 and it is ranked number 205 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. And finally… ”Lovely Day” from 1977, and possibly my favourite… the song was written by Withers and Skip Scarborough and appeared on Withers’ 1978 album “Menagerie”. “Lovely Day” peaked at #6 on the Billboard R&B chart and at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US in early 1978. It also reached #7 on the British singles chart. Thanks to Dennis who suggested Bill Withers for this week’s guilty pleasure.

If you have a guilty pleasure you’d like to share – that song you still love though you think other people would find it unfashionable (believe me, they won’t), get in touch. We’d love to play it for you! And, if you have a good story about why you love that song, so much the better.

This week’s interviews were with Prince Edward Island based singer-songwriters Irish Mythen and Dennis Ellsworth, and recorded at the recent Folk Music Ontario conference in Toronto. PEI appears to have quite a vibrant music scene, and you can hear that in the discussion with Irish and Dennis. Both of the interviews are available elsewhere on this website. They’ve definitely worth checking out.

Well, that’s just about all the time we have for this time around. You can find the full playlist for the show below. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We’re playing a couple of archive shows over the holidays while I indulge in some family time. We’ll see you in 2015!

You can listen to the show again on Mixcloud.

Folk Roots Radio – Episode 180 by Folk Roots Radio on Mixcloud

Mystery Theme: “Peace”

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (expected 2015)

Nick Lowe
What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding
At My Age (Bonus Track) (2007, Yep Roc)

Sam Turton
We Want Peace
At Home (2011, Self) CDN

Hothouse Flowers
Peace Tonight
Into Your Heart (2004, Eleven Thirty Records)

Jay Aymar
A War For Love
Demo (2013, Self) CDN

Jona Lewie
Stop The Cavalry (1980)
100% Christmas (1994, Telstar)

The Peace Collective
All Together Now
(Single) (2014, Self)

Bruce Cockburn
Peace March
Life Short Call Now (2006, True North Records) CDN

Loretta Hagen
Santa If You’re Listening
Mud & Stone (2012, Bearfort)

David Myles
The Gift
It’s Christmas (2014, Little Tiny Records) CDN

James Gordon
There Is No Silent Night
Mining For Gold (1999, Borealis Records) CDN

Leroy Anderson
Sleigh Ride
100% Christmas (1994, Telstar)

Bill Withers
Ain’t No Sunshine (1971)
Lovely Day
Lovely Day, The Best of Bill Withers (2009, Sony)

Bill Withers
Lean On Me (1972)
Lovely Day, The Best of Bill Withers (2009, Sony)

Bill Withers
Lovely Day (1977)
Lovely Day, The Best of Bill Withers (2009, Sony)

Irish Mythen
Gypsy Dancer
Irish Mythen” (2014, Self) CDN

Irish Mythen
These Walls (Live)

Irish Mythen
Their Waltz (Live)

Irish Mythen
Take Me To The River
Irish Mythen (2014, Self) CDN

Dennis Ellsworth
Valentine
Love Knows Love (2014, Busted Flat Records) CDN

Dennis Ellsworth
Beauty Is Sad (Live)

Dennis Ellsworth
Silver Tears (Live)

Dennis Ellsworth
Perfect Storm
Dusk Dreams (2012, Busted Flat Records) CDN

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Everything’s Changed At Christmas But You
Another Neighborly Christmas E.P. (2012, Magnolia 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.

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