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.
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).