We’re getting close to the end of 2020, which means it’s time to announce our favourite albums of the year. After the challenging year we’ve all had, it’s tempting to just want to put 2020 behind us and move on to 2021 to what will, hopefully, be a much better year for everyone. And yet, despite everything, 2020 has actually been a great year for recorded music – especially for those us who tend to focus on music that artists release independently, or via small and boutique record labels. Many artists have actually been making excellent use of the lockdown time forced on them by the coronavirus pandemic to record some wonderful ‘Covid Tune’ singles, EPs and in some case, even full albums. We’ve had great fun sharing them with you this year. We’ve also been doing our best to keep up with regularly scheduled releases. It gives us great pleasure each year, once we have put holiday radio episodes to bed, to consider our favourite albums of the year. One of the best things about doing a radio show is getting loads of great music to listen to each week. One of the hardest things to do is to take all that fabulous music and narrow it down to your ten favourite recordings of the year. You can check out The Top 10 on Episode 560 of Folk Roots Radio. We’ll be playing more of our favourite albums on upcoming episodes of Folk Roots Radio. If you don’t see an album you really loved, that’s likely because it didn’t make it up on our radar because we didn’t receive a copy. Please consider sharing your favourite albums in the comments – we might even spin them on a future episode of the show. Listen to The Top 10 on this episode, and check out the full playlist and the rest of our long list below. Enjoy!
Sultans of String, released a fabulous new recording “Refuge” earlier this year – an album that highlights the extraordinary contributions that indigenous people, immigrants and refugees make to culture and life in North America. Refuge features collaborations with over 30 musicians including Béla Fleck, Robi Botos, Ifrah Mansour, Demetrios Petsalakis, Imad Al Taha, Amir Amiri, Duke Redbird and Twin Flames. Sultans of String were supposed to be out on tour across both North America and the UK this year but because of the on-going pandemic none of that has been able to happen. Chris McKhool violinist and leader of the band joins us on a very special Covid Times edition of our video sister show, the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions to chat about the new album, and how the band has been impacted by the on-going emergency while sharing some of the fabulous videos they have prepared to support what is truly a fantastic project. Unfortunately because of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t been able to record any more video sessions, so we’ve switched to a socially distanced interview format similar to Folk Roots Radio. Since we started the Sun Parlour Coffee House Sessions, we’ve had 50 different artists/bands join us in the studio. Check them out online at sunparloursessions.com. Enjoy!.
We’re bringing another of our Covid Times interviews to Episode 544 of Folk Roots Radio – an opportunity for artists to chat about how the coronavirus pandemic has upended their music careers. This time around we are joined by Chris McKhool, violinist and band leader of world folk combo, Sultans of String, who released a fabulous new recording “Refuge” earlier this year – an album that highlights the extraordinary contributions that indigenous people, immigrants and refugees make to culture and life in North America. Sultans of String were supposed to be out on tour across both North America and the UK this year. None of that has been able to happen which is why we encourage all our listeners – if you like the music you hear on this show, buy the music, don’t just stream it! That way, you can really make a difference in artists lives during a period that they can’t be out on the road. We also check out more of the latest new releases, and this time around we hear from Ruston Kelly, Will Kimbrough, The Bodarks and Vi Wickam and Paul Anastasio. Check out the full playlist below.
We’re all about the music on Episode 526 of Folk Roots Radio as we hold back the interviews to bring you another hour of great new music. We still can’t get over how much wonderful music is being produced at the moment – much of it while in lockdown. We may be in the midst of some really strange times during the Covid-19 pandemic, but artistic creativity continues to flourish. We’re subtitling this one the Get Together Safely edition, as things are slowly starting to open up again in Canada. Join us for new music from Grace Potter, Ultan Conlon, Glen MacNeil, Gathering Time, ConChie, Steel Rail, Dan Penn, The Strange Valentines, Joe Nolan, Dione Taylor, Sultans Of String, The War and Treaty, Avi Kaplan and The Long War. Check out the full playlist below.
Julian Taylor joins us on Episode 517 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about his wonderful new singer-songwriter recording “The Ridge”, an album which has a quite lovely Americana sound to it. Originally intended for a fall release, the eight-song recording was brought forward in the hope that it might bring joy to listeners in troubled times – as we all cope with the on-going coronavirus pandemic. The Ridge is a fantastic album, and, it’s always a pleasure to chat to Julian Taylor about his music. We wrap up the episode with more of the great new music we’ve received, and this time around we hear from Birds From Paradise, Kylie Fox, Elisa Peimer, For Lua, Sultans Of String, Forest Sun, Woody Woodburn and Mike McKenna Jr. Check out the full playlist below.
Leader of the world rhythms folk combo Sultans of String, Chris McKhool joins us on Episode 476 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about the band’s forthcoming album “Refuge”, a project that is all about highlighting the extraordinary contributions that indigenous people, immigrants and refugees make to our culture and life, and showcases some of the amazing people who are sharing their musical gifts with us in Canada and the United States. It’s a very inspiring interview, and well worth checking out. We also include new music from Bobtown, Kristen Martell, Durham County Poets, Dayna Manning, Jason Wilson and Kyp Harness. Check out the full playlist below.
Sultans of String have just released the second single from their forthcoming album, “Refuge” which is due in the spring of 2020. “The Power of the Land” is a poem by Duke Redbird, now set to music by Sultans of String, with harmonies from indigenous husband and wife duo, Twin Flames. Refuge will feature some incredible musicians from the USA and Canada, many of whom arrived here as recent immigrants and refugees. According to Chris McKhool “The goal of the project is to highlight the extraordinary contributions of those that have arrived here from around the globe, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you, featuring special guests from First Nations, Turkey, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Syria, Mexico, Portugal, Cuba, and Sudan.” The first single from Refuge, “I Am a Refugee” featured the powerful lyrics and spoken word vocal of Somali refugee poet and multimedia artist Ifrah Mansour. Chris McKhool, leader of Sultans of String joined us on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the new project and upcoming tour dates. Sultans of String will be playing a rare performance in their original trio formation, featuring Chris McKhool on fiddle, Kevin Laliberté on guitar and Drew Birston on bass, at the Fergus Grand Theatre (Fergus ON) on November 23. GET TICKETS. On November 28, Sultans of String head out on their 3rd annual Christmas Caravan tour, which this year will be visiting Alberta and Ontario. For more information and all tour dates, visit sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String “I Am a Refugee” (feat. Ifrah Mansour) (single), “The Power of the Land” (feat. Duke Redbird & Twin Flames) (single) and “Himalayan Sleigh Ride” from “Christmas Caravan” (2017, Self).
Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize have been making music together as Skydiggers, with a variety of musical compadres, for nearly 30 years. Josh Finlayson joins us on Episode 465 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about Skydiggers new album “Let’s Get Friendship Right”, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Warmth of the Sun” from 2017. The development of Let’s Get Friendship Right came out of a desire to use music as therapy to cope with the passing of several friends and family members. Music can be great medicine for what ails you, especially when faced with life’s challenges. Let’s Get Friendship Right is a great album, and it’s an excellent interview – we hope you’ll stay with us to check it out. We also take a look at more of the latest new releases, and this time around we hear from The New Customs, Bryan McPherson, Noah Derksen, Sultans of String, Natalie MacMaster, Jennis and Gathering Sparks. Check out the full playlist below.
We love seasonal music on Folk Roots Radio – what we don’t love is more straight up versions of the same old Christmas songs and carols. Join us on Episode 414 of Folk Roots Radio as we celebrate the season with a selection of music that’s mostly new, independent and definitely interesting. We also include an interview with Chris McKhool, the leader of world music combo, the Sultans Of String, who are taking their “Christmas Caravan” back out on the road this holiday season alongside music from Ian Foster & Nancy Hynes, Rich Krueger, Reg Meuross, Kelly’s Lot, Vi Wickam, Bob Jensen & Tony McManus, Rachael Sage, Mara Levine, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and Eric Gerber. It’s a great episode, and the perfect accompaniment to a glass of your favourite tipple and a mince pie, or two. Check out the full playlist below.
Sultans Of String are taking their Christmas Caravan out on the road again this holiday season, with an extensive tour that takes in B.C. and Ontario and then heads into the US, and depending on the date features some special guests. Christmas Caravan isn’t your typical holiday album – as the band and their guest performers take seasonal music into another realm altogether, with some fine vocals performances, wonderful high octane world beat music and some fabulous virtuoso musicianship. On this tour, the Sultans of String will also be raising money for the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) in Canada who provide shelter, food, water, medical care and other life-saving assistance to refugees around the world. You can donate online HERE. Sultans of String leader Chris McKhool joined us again on Folk Roots Radio to chat about the upcoming tour. Check out all their tour dates at sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String “Jesous Ahatonhia (Huron Carol)” (feat. Crystal Shawanda) and “The Little Swallow/Al Vuelo” (feat. The City of Prague Symphony Orchestra) from “Christmas Caravan” (2017, Self) CDN.
Welcome to another hour of festive music for the holidays. Folk Roots Radio at Christmas features a selection of mostly new and original holiday music by independent artists, who hope to bring something new to a genre that’s often criticized as being a vapid and uninspiring marketing tool for a consumer culture, that, let’s be honest, goes mad during the holiday season. With that in mind, we’re also including an interview with Chris McKhool, the leader of world music combo, Sultans Of String, who talks enthusiastically and engagingly about their new spin on seasonal music, “Christmas Caravan”, which really attempts to bring something new to holiday standards many people see as tired, boring and, dare I say it, rather predictable. So here it is. Stoke up the fire, pour yourself some egg nog, settle down in your favourite chair and enjoy! Check out the full playlist below.
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).
This week’s Folk Roots Radio features an interview with Australian roots band Perch Creek recorded just before this summer’s Hillside festival. Perch Creek are great fun, and put on a fabulous live show. It’s a great interview, and definitely worthing checking out – they even pulled out their instruments to play a song for us in their hotel room! As always we found time for a lot of new music we’ve received and kicked off a new weekly feature on the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards, taking place in Edmonton from November 6-8 2015.
The Sultans of String are about to release their latest album, “Subcontinental Drift”, a collaboration with sitar master Anwar Khurshid. To celebrate the release, Folk Roots Radio has been given two amazing prize packs to give away. Included in the prize pack are two tickets for the Saturday September 19 show at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener and a Sultans of String four-CD pack.
Want to get in on the draw to win this fabulous prize? Get in touch via the website, social media or an e-mail to jan[at]folkrootsradio.com. Good luck!
The Sultans of String are bringing their latest release, “Subcontinental Drift”, a collaboration with sitar master Anwar Khurshid (Oscar winning Life of Pi, Love Guru) to the Registry Theatre in Kitchener on Saturday September 19.
Sultans of String are a fabulous live band and a must-see for anyone who loves folk, world and jazz rhythms put through a blender and delivered with panache by a kick-ass string band. This promises to be a great show! Check out all the details and some comments from the band below.
This week’s Folk Roots Radio focuses on the upcoming Hillside Festival, taking place from July 24-26 at Guelph Lake. The show features interviews with Hillside Artistic Director Sam Baijal and Chris McKhool, the leader of the Hillside-bound Sultans of String. Hillside has something for everyone – a great mix of music, fabulous community workshops, a dedicated children’s area, an artisan village and great food… and there are still some weekend and day passes available. To learn more about the festival, visit hillsidefestival.ca – one of the best and most informative festival websites out there. Yet another thing that the Hillside Festival does very well indeed!
The Sultans of String brilliantly blend together Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz musical influences to create a wonderfully rich cinematic sound that is almost intoxicating. The band is lead by 6-string violinist Chris McKhool who grew up in a Lebanese-Egyptian (Makhoul) family and guitarist Kevin Laliberté who write much of the material. Always pushing boundaries, their latest album “Symphony” (2013, Sony/Red) was recorded with a full orchestra while their new release, “Subcontinental Drift” (due in September) will feature sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid. Whether playing as a duo, five piece or with a full orchestra, their live show is something to behold – a fiery violin dances with a rumba-flamenco guitar while a bass lays down a funky unstoppable world rhythm groove that can’t help but bring a smile to your face as an irresistible urge forces you to get involved whether that is by clapping along or getting up to dance. They’re out on the festival circuit this summer including a visit to the Hillside Festival on July 26. We caught up with Chris McKhool at home in Toronto. For more information visit sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String “Road to Kfarmishki”, “Josie” (excerpt), “Luna” (excerpt) and “Monti’s Revenge” (excerpt) from “Symphony” (2013, Sony/Red).