Canadian world folk supergroup the Sultans of String have just released their first holiday album, “Christmas Caravan”. Turning the notion of holiday music completely on its head, the new album, recorded and co-produced with JUNO Award winning engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, features Quebecois fiddle tunes and collaborations with a traditional Turkish string ensemble, and jumps from a classic Andrews Sisters holiday sound, to a Himalayan sleigh ride, African roots music, Gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, ska, and the grandeur of the symphony. You name it, its in there. To help celebrate the season, the band brought in an all star cast of guest musicians including six times Grammy winning Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains), Ruben Blades & Luba Mason, platinum-selling jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky, Alex Cuba, Benoit Bourque of Quebec’s Bottine Souriante, African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Cameroon’s Richard Bona, Rebecca Campbell (Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette), singer Mary Fahl from NYC’s October Project, a recording collective of Turkish Roma violinists in Istanbul, Sudanese-Canadian singer Waleed Abdulhamid, Nashville-based JUNO Award winning country singer Crystal Shawanda, sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid, and hang drum player David Charrier from France. We caught up with Sultans of String fiddle maestro, Chris McKhool, at home in Toronto, to learn more about the new album. The Sultans of String will be touring the album across Canada in the run up to the holidays, including a visit to the Registry Theatre in Kitchener ON (December 1), the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto (December 2) and Aeolian Hall in London (December 3). Check out all the dates and visit the Sultans of String online at sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String, “Turkish Greensleeves”, “Himalayan Sleigh Ride” and “Hallelujah” from “Christmas Caravan” (2017, Self).
The nominations for the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards have been announced. Pharis and Jason Romero lead the pack with four nominations for their album “A Wanderer I’ll Stay”. Their nominations include Traditional Album of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Traditional Singer of the Year (Pharis Romero), and Producer of the Year (Pharis and Jason Romero with David Travers-Smith). Amelia Curran (St John’s, NL), Fortunate Ones (St John’s, NL), Jenn Grant (Lake Echo, NS), Whitehorse (Toronto, ON) and Catherine MacLellan (Charlottetown, PEI) each received three nominations.
This year’s youngest nominee is nine year old Vancouver Island artist Stella Swanson for the album “I’m Not A Bunny” in the Children’s Album of the Year category. Inspired by Stella’s pet bunny Romeo, the album was produced by Comox’s Helen Austin, a previous Canadian Folk Music Award and Juno Award recipient and a nominee this year with her group Big Little Lions.
Check out the full list of nominees here. We’ll be previewing the nominees on upcoming editions of Folk Roots Radio.