Episode 203: Rebecca Lappa

Episode 203 of Folk Roots Radio featured an interview and impromptu session with Edmonton Alberta’s Rebecca Lappa recorded at the Folk Music Ontario Conference this past October. Though still just a teenager, Rebecca is already a prolific songwriter, having written over 200 songs in her career so far. All four of the albums she has released to date have been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for “Young Performer of the Year”. Her most recent album, 2014’s  “Ode to Tennyson” uses as its source material, the collected works of English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Rebecca shows amazing drive for someone so young. It’s a great interview and definitely worth checking out. As usual, we also included a good selection of new music alongside our mystery theme and guilty pleasure.

This week’s mystery theme was all about “banjos”. I decided to use the banjo as the theme because I attended a great banjo workshop at last weekend’s Mariposa Folk festival (hosted by noted banjoist Jayme Stone) that was loads of fun, and, yes, featured loads of banjos! So how could I resist? It gave us an opportunity to play great songs by Leonard Cohen, Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, Tia McGraff and the Old Crow Medicine Show and tell a few banjo jokes courtesy of Michael Johnathon. We finished off with the obligatory “Duelling Banjos”, this time by Mike Stevens & Raymond McLain. Eagle-eared listeners and those familiar with Mr. Stevens, will know this version of the Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith instrumental, made famous by the 1972 movie Deliverance, is played on harmonica and banjo – regardless, it’s still one of my favourite covers. We also squeezed in another great banjo instrumental “Still Jigging’ For Trout” by Banjo Mechanics Ian Pattison and Lewis Melville from their great 2014 album “JLP”.

This week’s guilty pleasure, and not at all guilty for me, featured Donna Summer performing Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park live in 1999. Jimmy Webb wrote MacArthur Park in 1967, and originally offered the song to The Association, before it was picked up by actor Richard Harris for his pop music debut, taking it to No. 2 in the US and No 4 in the UK in 1968, and eventually winning the Grammy for ‘best arrangement accompanying vocalist’.

The song has a bit of a checkered history because many have criticized it for loopy metaphors, something about comparing lost love to leaving a cake out in the rain?, although that was before Jimmy Webb explained that the lyrical story in the song was in fact real, describing the scene in MacArthur Park on a weekend, a place he visited frequently, with his girlfriend of the time before their breakup. And yes, birthday parties often took place, and cakes did get left out in the rain. So there you are…

Donna Summer’s version of MacArthur Park was recorded in 1978 and reached No. 1 in the US, and spawned a classic 18 minute medley – The MacArthur Park Suite (it’s definitely worth checking out) and became a great part of her live show.

And why did I choose to play MacArthur Park this week? Well… after watching Jimmy Webb sing it at the Mariposa Folk festival this past weekend… how could I resist?

And followed that with Jimmy Webb dueting with Lucinda Williams on a live version of Galveston from his 2010 album “Just Across the River” and yes, Lucinda Williams was also at Mariposa this past weekend. Neither of them are brilliant singers but they sound great together on that song.

Talking of Mariposa, it was fun to bump into Rick Fines who kindly gave us a copy of his new album “Driving Home” before delivering a couple of great sets. Hopefully he’ll join us on Folk Roots Radio for a feature-length chat in the not too distant future.

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.

Amongst the new music we played were tracks from great new albums by Corinna Rose, Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio, Brock Zeman and Cheryl Lescom. Talking of new music, Ange Hardy sent us an a cappella demo version of “She Moved Through the Fair” recorded during her sessions for her upcoming album “Es-tee-see” an album about the life and work of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the S.T.C. in the new album’s title. And we also played Emily Barker‘s “Doing The Best I Can” from “Land Of Hope And Fury”, a new album of post-2015 election protest songs from the UK out now on Union Music Store records. We’ll have a special feature about this album on a future show.

Glenn Buhr also sent us another new track from his upcoming roots blues album. He’s bringing his Button Factory Band to the Elora Festival on July 25 as part of their Starlight Jazz, Roots and Blues series. The Starlight series kicks off on July 11 with the Mike Janzen Trio, with jug band duo Frog & Henry take the stage on July 18. For more information and to get tickets visit elorafestival.ca. In other festival news, aboriginal singer-songwriter D.M. LaFortune will be appearing at this year’s Skylight Festival in Paris Ontario on July 31. For more information on that festival, visit skylightfestival.ca.

Well, that’s all we have time for this week. Check out the full playlist with artist links below and share your love for all the great folk and roots music out there. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We’ll see you next week! You can listen to this show again on Mixcloud by following the link below.

Folk Roots Radio – Episode 203 by Folk Roots Radio on Mixcloud

Mystery Theme: “Banjos”

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

Leonard Cohen
Old Ideas (2012, Columbia) CDN

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers
Daddy Played The Banjo
Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell LIVE (2014, Rounder Records)

Tia McGraff
Baby’s Got A Banjo
Crazy Beautiful (2015, Bandana Records) CDN

Old Crow Medicine Show
8 Dogs 8 Banjos
Remedy (2014, ATO)

Michael Johnathon
Looking Glass (2014, Poetman Records)

Mike Stevens & Raymond McLain
Duelling Banjos
Old Time Mojo (2005, Borealis Records) CDN

Banjo Mechanics
Still Jigging’ For Trout
JLP (2014, Self) CDN

Brock Zeman
Walking In The Dark
Pulling Your Sword Out Of The Devil’s Back (2015, Busted Flat Records) CDN

Eliot Bronson
Rough Ride
Rough Ride (single) (2015, New Pain)

D.M. LaFortune
Beauty And Hard Times (2013, Self) CDN

Glenn Buhr & The Button Factory Band
Wedgewood Blues (Demo 2015) CDN

Donna Summer
MacArthur Park
Live & More Encore (1999, Sony)

Jimmy Webb
Galveston (feat. Lucinda Williams)
Just Across The River (2010, E1 Music)

Rick Fines
Buttermilk Falls
Driving Home (2015, Self) CDN

Cheryl Lescom & The Tucson Choir Boys
Too Much Time
1953 (2015, Busted Flat Records) CDN

Rebecca Lappa
Field Of Dishonour
Ode To Tennyson (2014, Self) CDN

Interview: An in-depth conversation and impromptu session recorded with Rebecca Lappa at the Folk Music Ontario conference in October 2014.

Rebecca Lappa
Anchor Tattoo (Live)

Rebecca Lappa
Queen Of The May (Live)

Rebecca Lappa
The Lotus Eaters (Live)

Rebecca Lappa
Ode To Tennyson (2014, Self) CDN

Ange Hardy
She Moved Through The Fair (Demo 2015)

Corinna Rose
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
The Wharf (2015, Self) CDN

Emily Barker
Doing The Best I Can
Land Of Hope And Fury (2015, Union Music Store)

Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio
Still She Will Fly
Still She Will Fly (2015, Vessel Recordings)

Tom Chapin
Put A Light In Your Window
70 (2015, Sundance Music)

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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