Douglas McLean started playing music at the age of 11 years as a drummer. He wrote his first song at age 15 and he started recording when he was 20 years old. He has recorded 5 albums and written some 60 or more songs including several videos.
Douglas has a deep love for poetry, particularly the works of Leonard Cohen, T.S Eliot and Rumi. His songs reflect those deep influences and as a lyricist, he chooses to pursue language as a deep stimulus for understanding; and the practiced art of what Van Morrison calls “the inarticulate speech of the heart”.
Several of his recorded songs have been positioned in the Top 20 in local Muskoka Radio. He plays local shows and concerts usually joined by his wife, violinist, Arlene McLean.
McLean also does work with other artists as an executive producer ; videography; radio host , and writing for local newspapers.
Douglas has talked with many artists about their songwriting process, you can listen to these interviews, with music from their albums, interspersed throughout.
Listen To More Interviews From Our Vaults HERE
MUSIC & CHAT
The Salt Cellars
With their new album, “Inside These Walls”, the Salt Cellars have made a huge step forward on their road to establishing themselves as a major, must hear act. This conversation took place in April 2022, before the album release in August. I have long hoped to publish this talk with these talented musicians to Backstage. Take some time to get to know this incredible band.
The Salt Cellars come from the south side of Algonquin Park. They are currently a 5-piece band made up of Virginia DeCarle (Lead Vocals and Harmonies), Rob Bersan (Lead Vocals and Harmonies, Guitars), Ron Kapitain (Harmonica, Accordion, Keyboards, Harmonium), Richard Joudrey (Bass guitar), Anne Wilde (Harmonies).
Virginia deCarle and Rob Bersan are the singer-songwriter foundation and in 2016, they formed the duo, ‘The Salt Cellars’. The two have also played music together in previous years with other musicians. Drawing from their love of Americana, Folk, Blues, Jazz, Reggae, Rock and pretty much any other music that tickled their ears, they have written an eclectic mix of songs over the years. After many years of writing individually they brought their lyrics and music to each other. They also write collaboratively and have played in many venues in different parts of Ontario (Rob in Sweden too), getting great feedback from audiences who attended their shows. People loved the tight harmonies and skilled musicianship.
In 2017, Ron Kapitain, consummate harmonica, accordion & keyboard player from the Maynooth area, joined the duo. In late 2017, the trio met Anax Junius Music Studio producer and JUNO winner, Richard Joudrey (Blue Peter/Rational Youth). Impressed by their originality, he was excited to begin production of their first CD entitled, ‘Truth’.
The band became a six piece, including Rick Joudrey on bass, Anne Wilde on backing vocals and Brendon Burgess on percussion and drums. The Salt Cellars band played shows from Essonville to Killaloe, Haliburton, Bancroft, Maynooth and Peterborough, ON to rave reviews. During the COVID pandemic, Virginia and Rob continued to play live as the Salt Cellars Duo.
The Salt Cellars released their second CD titled “Crooked Tree”, September 2019, and their third album in the spring of 2022.
Inside These Walls
Released Nov 11,2022, Dear Illusion is a masterful continuation of Hill’s previous album 2020’s Desert Trip.
“Dear Illusion” is a new approach to Steve’s long music career and music production, featuring his powerful guitar and vocals along with a massive horn section in support of his superb songwriting and intriguing world view.
Widely considered one of Canada’s most prolific guitarists, Steve Hill has never stopped delivering wildly ambitious performances and satisfying original albums. Heralded wherever he goes, the guitarist, singer, drummer, harmonica player, songwriter and accomplished producer is a musical force to be reckoned with.
Forget the fact that he has won a Juno award, played concertos with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra, won enough Blues awards to fill a bathtub and walked the boards of too many stages to count throughout his 27-year career, when you stop to hear his music you know you’re listening to the real deal.
A guitar stylist with a wide musical vocabulary, he has performed over 2,500 concerts in many configurations. For the past 8 years he has toured extensively throughout Canada and Europe in support of his critically acclaimed Solo Recordings, albums trilogy, and one man band show. Steve got his start as an 18-year-old sideman in 1993 and released his first album in 1997. Since then he has shared the stage with many of his heroes, like Ray Charles, B.B. King and ZZ Top, to name a few, and has played at some of Canada’s biggest music festivals. With 11 albums of original songs to his name, he has explored everything from Rock, Country, Folk, and all kinds of music, while continuing to fuse it all with his first love, the Blues.
1 JUNO AWARD
Blues Album of the year (2015)
MEMPHIS INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE
Best self-produced CD (2013)
8 MAPLE BLUES Awards
Electric act of the year (2000 – 2014 – 2015)
Entertainer of the year (2014 – 2015)
Guitarist of the year (2014 – 2015)
Album of the year (2014)
Steal the Light From You
Don't Let the Truth Get In the Way (Of a Good Story)
All About the Love
So It Goes
Gotta Be Strong
Suzie has released her seventh solo album entitled “Fall Back Home”.
“Fall Back Home” defies easy stylistic categorization. She is equally at ease in the blues, folk, and roots worlds, with elements of gospel and rockabilly also present here.
An elite group of renowned Canadian roots musicians were recruited including guitar aces Kevin Breit, Colin Linden, Steve Dawson, Bill Henderson, and Paul Pigat, harmonica players Roly Platt and Carlos del Junco, drummers Davide Di Renzo and Gary Craig, bassists Russ Boswell and Alec Fraser, organists Jesse O’Brien and Mark Lalama, and guest vocalists Matt Andersen, Gwen Swick, Mike Biggar and Samantha Martin.
“Fall Back Home” is wonderful, uplifting, and gorgeously produced by Danny Greenspoon and a must have for 2023.
A Saskatoon native transplanted to the Niagara Region of Ontario, Roots and Blues singer Suzie Vinnick is a 3X Juno Nominee, CFMA Award winner, and a 10-time winner of the Maple Blues Award for songwriting, female vocalist, acoustic act and more. Suzie has a voice you’ve heard a thousand times and one you’ll never forget. It soars, it growls, it whispers and it shouts from a deep, deep well of emotion. The pure joy she exudes when she picks up that guitar is so worth the show.
Suzie has toured nationally with Downchild, Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Café, the John McDermott Band and she performed for Canadian Peacekeepers in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf. She was also the voice of Tim Horton’s for 5 years.
Salt & Pepper
Talk To Me
It Doesn't Feel Like Spring Anymore
The Pie That My Baby Makes
Lift You Up
David Libert had such a long and interesting career in the music business, his friends encouraged him to write a book about it…so he did.
The result is an autobiography 50-plus years in the making aptly entitled Rock and Roll Warrior, recently released on Sunset Blvd Books. It’s a chronicle of David’s inner circle life in the music industry as a popular international performer, singer-songwriter, tour manager, booking agent, producer, and drug dealer on the Sunset Strip. It’s a story so wild, so crazy, so over-the-top that it can only be true.
Rock and Roll Warrior is a unvarnished, no-holds-barred, stories of his life in the rock ‘n roll fast lane on the road, backstage, on private jets and inside notorious after-show parties with music legends in the era of free-spirit, hard driving rock ‘n’ roll and R&B. It’s life on the road in technicolor. A roller coaster ride peek behind the curtain at the good, the bad and the ugly in the music biz of years gone by.
The book is a riotous, humorous, intimate, provocative story of Libert’s life in music. He has absolutely no qualms about sharing stories of all aspects of his life that will amaze, titillate, impress, and endear him to those who read his fascinating life journey in music.
From his tenure as co-lead singer of 60s pop hitmakers, The Happenings, to his role as tour manager for Alice Cooper’s most legendary 70s tours, to managing funk/R&B legend George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic to eventually being imprisoned for dealing drugs in L.A.
Hailing from Paterson, New Jersey, he co-founded The Happenings with three high school pals shortly after graduation. The Happenings went on to have several hit records including "See You in September" and "I Got Rhythm.” "See You In September" and "I Got Rhythm" were on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 14 weeks in 1966 and 13 weeks in 1967, respectively, and both songs peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at #3.
Libert left the group to become a booking agent and eventually a tour manager. After a brief stint as road manager for Rare Earth, Libert became tour manager for Alice Cooper during Alice's most formidable years (1971–1975). Libert figured prominently in Bob Greene's book about accompanying Cooper's band on 1973's Billion Dollar Babies tour. Libert also was credited for singing background vocals on the Billion Dollar Babies album which was recorded at Morgan Studios in London in 1973. He remains friendly with Alice to this day.
In 1975, Libert migrated from New York to Los Angeles and in 1976, opened the David Libert Management Agency which represented George Clinton, Parliament/Funkadelic, Bootsy's Rubber Band and The Runaways (Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford).
In the early 80s, he met Prince through Sheila E, who was one of his management clients at the time. Sheila E opened for Prince on the legendary Purple Rain tour and Libert spent a lot of time hanging with Prince, many times assisting Prince with his shows.
In the late 90s, Libert formed Available Entertainment with entertainment attorney Alan Oken. Available Entertainment went on to represent George Clinton, Parliament/Funkadelic, Brian Auger, Living Colour, Sheila E, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, amongst others.
Libert also wrote hit songs for other artists including The Tokens, The Chiffons and Gerry & The Pacemakers.
Despite his success, Libert eventually became involved in drugs and, for a time, began dealing drugs before being busted and paying the price for it with jail time. But, he regrouped and made a successful return to the music industry as a manager, working with acts including Living Colour and Vanilla Fudge, who were respectful of his knowledge and skills and were happy to work with him.
These days, soon to be 80 years young, David is enjoying a much more relaxed and less hectic life. He lives in Southern California and is a devoted animal rights activist, helping to find homes for animals that desperately need one.
The Happenings - See You in September
The Happenings - I Got Rhythm
Rare Earth - (I Know) I'm Losing You (Single Version)
Alice Cooper - No More Mr. Nice Guy
Parliament, George Clinton & Funkadelic - Atomic Dog (Live)
Living Colour - Cult of Personality
Contemporary Roots outfit Maggie's Wake is a Canadian roots band that combines traditional Celtic instrumentation with a contemporary approach. Born from the ashes of Rant Maggie Rant, Maggie's Wake is an exciting collaboration between Rant Maggie Rant co-founder Lindsay Schindler (fiddle, vocals) and Tara Dunphy (tin whistle, flute, fiddle, vocals), lead singer and songwriter of acclaimed country outfit, The Rizdales.
They are joined by a powerhouse band of Ontario's finest musicians, including Stephan Szczesniak on percussion, Andrew Kosty on bass, Kenneth Palmer on guitar and Dean Harrison on piano and accordian.
Shaken and Stirred
Christmas Is Coming (For You)
Terra graciously agreed to a conversation with Douglas McLean about her career and newest album ‘Old News’, her collaboration with Ben Caplan.
"In ‘Old News’, Spencer weaves a mysterious aura around finely etched portraits of faces, places and faded memories, as only a songwriter of her imminent promise can. Almost in cinematic, slow motion, a series of characters materialize, share their hard-won lessons and dissolve, cross fade into another. An old teacher, a loving dog, a long lost love, a small engine repairman, a lonely girl longing for love, each comes into focus only long enough to be recognized for their humble place amongst the human tide.
Raised on the mud banks of the Avon River, award-winning Nova Scotian funeral director-turned-songwriter Terra Spencer has won over audiences in Canada, the UK, and Germany since her 2018 debut. She has already crafted a catalogue of startlingly intimate songs, marrying fingerstyle guitar, gospel piano, and her butterscotch voice with sly humour and 70s wood-paneled warmth. Terra recently released her third album, Old News, created with Ben Caplan and celebrated with a cross-Canada and UK tour. In a room of 5 or 500, every show is a knee-to-knee conversation with a natural storyteller. Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, and Karen Carpenter walk into a bar." - Douglas McLean
Feels Like Home
Brick and Mortar
Andrew Burashko from the Art of Time Ensemble
As sung by: Steven Page, Sarah Harmer, Tom Wilson, Sarah Slean and Gregory Hoskins.
This is a must listen for those of us who loved the words and music of the legendary writer Leonard Cohen. Delving deep into the emotional and spiritual core of these curated songs, ‘The Art of Time Ensemble’ pay tribute to a master of song writing and “pierce the heart”, as Cohen intended, with these stellar live performances. Art of Time Recordings released ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen Live’ on Sept 29th,2022.
The album is produced by Andrew Burashko, the founder and creative force behind Art of Time Ensemble, Douglas McLean chats with him about the project.
Art of Time Ensemble is a Toronto based musical collective of leading Canadian musicians from the worlds of jazz and classical music. Formed in 1997 by Andrew Burashko, Art of Time has become an integral part of Toronto’s cultural scene. They have become a destination for today’s most accomplished artists working in music, dance, theatre, film, and literature.
"The 13 tracks on this album were recorded live in concert as part of a Leonard Cohen tribute in 2018. Over three nights, this tribute also featured 15 Canadian authors and poets many of whom knew Leonard Cohen personally. These shows were deeply emotional, and it shows in every single performance. “In choosing the songs for this tribute, I wanted to cover the entire span of Cohen’s career, showcasing both, well- known classics and lesser-known tracks such as “Come Healing” and Treaty” from very late in his career. I also, very deliberately chose a diverse group of composers and arrangers with disparate sensibilities to create a very distinct aesthetic universe for each song. The singers on this album are all veterans and icons of the Canadian pop music scene - all forces of nature in their own right. Their passion for these songs shines through in every performance.” - Andrew Burashko
The singers each have their own international careers and are all veterans of the Canadian pop scene: Steven Page, Sarah Harmer, Tom Wilson, Sarah Slean and Gregory Hoskins.
Steven Page is the founder and former lead singer of Barenaked Ladies. He went on to pursue a solo and enjoys success internationally. Recently, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Sarah Harmer is a platinum selling Canadian singer, songwriter. Time Magazine called her debut album “the best debut album of the year”.
Tom Wilson is a member of the Nashville based roots band called Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and former lead singer of the band Junkhouse. As a solo artist, he continues to tour regularly throughout North America.
Sarah Slean is an acclaimed Canadian singer, song writer, actor and film composer. She has been nominated for multiple Juno and Gemini awards and has received a Screen Actor’s Guild of Canada award for her co - scoring the TV series Detention Adventure.
Gregory Hoskins fronted the popular Canadian folk rock band The Stick People in the 80s and 90s. Since then, he has enjoyed a successful performing and recording career spanning 30 years. He collaborates regularly with Art of Time Ensemble.
The arrangers include nine composers from the pop, jazz and classical worlds including the English composer Gavin Bryars, and all the arrangements explore the intersection of popular song and chamber music, featuring some of the best instrumentalists in Canada.
Black Flowers - Sarah Slean
Anthem - Sarah Slean
Treaty - Gregory Hoskins
A Singer Must Die - Steven Page
Who By Fire - Tom Wilson
Dance Me to the End of Love - Sarah Harmer
Basset are Acoustic songwriters Sam Clark and Yasmine Shelton, but that hardly comes close to describing the ethereal beauty and stunning harmonies of their newest album ‘In The Clay’. Luckily Douglas McLean got to speak to them briefly about the album and their phenomenal song writing, and the creation of this thoughtful, luxuriously hypnotic set of songs.
Toronto-based folk duo, Basset, are full of timeless heart. Acoustic songwriters Sam Clark and Yasmine Shelton will take you through city streets in the hours before the world has awoken, or to a corrugated steel home north of the treeline.
Basset bring a deep love of the natural world to their gorgeously meditative and assured debut album, In The Clay, released on September 30th, 2022. Produced by Joshua Van Tassel (Sarah Slean, David Myles), the ten songs on 'In The Clay' explore various themes of life in change, Shelton and Clark’s travels around Northern Ontario, the Canadian and American prairies, their lives in Toronto, and the many characters who have crossed their paths.
With comparisons to The Milk Carton Kids, Hozier, and Bon Iver, their inventiveness shines on fiddle and intricate harmonies, with Shelton and Clark’s voices wrapping around each other like twin flames in a warm fire.
In the Clay
Change of Time
At My Feet
Ships at Sea
Julian Taylor released ‘Beyond the Reservoir’, October 14,2022. The album chronicles Taylor’s continuing mastery of song, storytelling and lyric. Profound in it’s depth and compelling insight, the album is a must have for anyone who truly loves Canadian song writing at it’s very best. From beginning to end, Taylor takes the listener on journey that evokes both time and place but also a universality that only a truly gifted artist can touch us with. A master work in all aspects.
Julian sat down with Douglas McLean, and shared some of the creative elements that brought this phenomenal album into the light for all of us to celebrate.
Beyond the Reservoir is an album that addresses identity, loss, sadness, hope, and redemption. The themes of resilience, courage, and strength are prevalent in every carefully-chosen lyric. It contains a gentle spiritual thread that runs throughout the album touching on each of the elements like fire, water, air, and earth as they relate to humanity. It is a coming-of-age story and a beautifully-orchestrated successor to The Ridge.
After 25 years in music, building an unimpeachable reputation as a truly independent artist and entrepreneur, Julian Taylor now owns his legacy. From the formative rock of Staggered Crossing to the genre fusion of Julian Taylor Band, and now his revered work as a solo singer-songwriter, Julian owns the right to it all and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
It’s rare in this era to see an artist build slowly and reach a new level of widespread acclaim two decades into their career. But Julian’s ethos, work ethic, and artistry has always had a timeless quality to it. And so, he’s built things slowly in a DIY fashion, withstanding highs and lows along the way, ultimately reaching the peak of his powers with his latest solo work. Fans and critics have noticed, granting Julian the Solo Artist of the Year honour at the Canadian Folk Music Awards (and nomination in the English Songwriter category), plus two Juno Award nominations in 2021, as well as a Polaris Music Prize nomination.
Growing up in Toronto on a combination of soul music, hip-hop, blues, and Americana along with ‘90s alternative, Julian was still a teenager when he co-founded the alt-rock band Staggered Crossing in 1996. Within three years, the band signed a publishing deal with industry icon Frank Davies and a record deal with a major label, Warner Music Canada.
Staggered Crossing’s self-titled debut album was released in 2001 and instantly earned Julian his first hit song. “Further Again,” was one of the most played songs on Canadian rock radio in the early 2000s and remains a signature tune of the era in Julian’s home country. It, along with second single “A Million Works of Art," established Julian and Staggered Crossing as rock artists with infectious pop sensibilities.
“It was a really cool experience touring and having the whole juggernaut working for us. And we had management, we had a publisher, we had a record company, we had an agent, and off to the races we went — and we were pretty young,” Julian says now. But the early 2000s were a turbulent time for the music business and things veered into a different direction for Staggered Crossing despite early major label success.
The band parted ways with their label after the release of their first album, Julian founded Bent Penny Records to release Staggered Crossing’s next album — developing his DIY, entrepreneurial muscles that have carried him throughout his career ever since.
“I didn't really know what to do, so I started to learn how to operate throughout the business and became not only a musician, but a business person and a label guy,” he says.
Staggered Crossing’s sophomore record, Last Summer When We Were Famous, was released in 2002. It was produced by late multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett, whose band, Wilco, has had a lasting influence on Julian.
“I think that the most cohesive and most interesting Staggered Crossing record to listen to was probably Last Summer When We Were Famous. It's a cool grunge record; it’s a little punky,” he adds.
The Staggered Crossing’s third and final LP was 2004’s Burgundy & Blue. “It was kind of an amalgamation of the previous two albums. I was finally getting quite good at producing and also quite good at the business side of music,” Julian recalls. “I was doing radio promotion, as well, for the band. I called every radio station in Canada every week. Jeremy [Elliot, drummer,] was the tour manager, Dan [Black, bassist,] was trying to do press, and Dave [Marshall, guitarist] was doing finances. So, we all learned how to do the whole business together. In fact, one of the songs on that record, ‘Perfect Prize,’ I ended up getting it into the top-20 on Canadian radio by myself as a radio plugger. It was the highest-charting independent rock song of the year in 2005, which not a lot of people know.”
In 2007 Staggered Crossing split up, leaving Julian and the rest of the band feeling burnt out and fed up with the music business. “We needed to sort of try to save each other's lives. Unfortunately, it didn't completely work. We lost one member down the road. I think everybody was pretty depressed and beat up by the music industry, so some people just decided that they would do other things, and we all really did,” Julian says.
For Julian, that meant stepping back completely from commercial music and working a bunch of bar gigs. At one bar, Dora Keogh in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood, Julian started an open stage night that fostered a close-knit music community in the city. It became a regular drop-in spot for well-known Canadian artists like Kim Mitchell, Big Sugar, Ron Hynes, and even international bands coming through the city on tour.“I think that, for me, it did save my life. It gave me a newfound perspective and love for music later on,” Julian says of these years away from the music industry.
Following the dissolution of Staggered Crossing, many of the songs Julian had left from those years appeared on two low-key solo releases, Black Tape Levy and Absence of the Sun. The former is not available on streaming services but now that Julian owns all his songs, he’s considering making it available. “I may just release it under the name Blank Tape Levy because it sounds so different from ‘Julian Taylor.’ It sounds more like Staggered Crossing,” he explains, while Absence of the Sun is an interesting preview of the acoustic sound that would propel him to greater stardom years later.
Meanwhile, during his under-the-radar years — working bars, running the open stage, and playing in a covers band — Julian was crafting the new songs that would form his first big post-Staggered Crossing release, 2014’s Tech Noir by the Julian Taylor Band. The eponymous band name wasn’t necessarily intentional for the new project (it’s the name they used when playing covers at weddings and such), but when the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” leaked out and became a radio hit, they were stuck with it.
Tech Noir was a hit with fans and critics and established the band’s sound — a skillful merging of rock and roll, funk, pop, and R&B. For proof of Julian Taylor Band’s irresistibly infectious sound, and Julian’s ability at writing a great pop hook when he wants, just listen to “Why Would You Do That.”
The second LP from Julian Taylor Band, Desert Star, was released in 2015 on Aporia Records. “We wanted a little bit more recognition at the time,” Julian says. “I really try hard to make the first song and the last song all stand out. I don't like any throwaway stuff…. and for Desert Star to come out with 22 songs and there not to be a real throwaway on it. Maybe some people would disagree, but most people actually don't. They say that this is a solid record from start to finish… I wouldn't say that it's flawless, because that's not true, but it's just a really great effort.”
When Tech Noir and Desert Star were surprisingly left out of the Juno Awards nominations (Canada’s version of the Grammy or Brit Awards), Julian felt it was because the band’s sound was hard to categorize. As such, when writing and recording 2019’s standout album, Avalanche, his focus was on making a cohesive, consistent record. “I like jumping around a lot, so Avalanche was the first real time I said, ‘I'm gonna try to really focus and just stay in one lane as best as I can.’”
After all, from his earliest demos in the late ‘90s through Staggered Crossing and Julian Taylor Band, acoustic songs were featured throughout and every song began with Julian writing on an acoustic guitar or piano. And Avalanche, in many ways, is the first in a trilogy of deeply-personal roots albums. “’Sweeter’ is a lot of people's favourite song at live shows. Once you get into that record, sonically it sounds really cool because it’s a live band playing. That, as well, is happening more than the next two records,” he says.
That brings us to the big breakout — 2020’s The Ridge. Though written and recorded before the pandemic, it was the balm for the soul that so many needed that year. Through the most personal songwriting and soulful singing of his career, Julian found a whole new audience that fell in love with him. Really, it’s rare for an artist to have a major critical and commercial breakthrough two decades into their professional career, but then again, it’s also rare to make an album that resonates with listeners like The Ridge did. It earned Julian his first two Juno Award nominations (Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year), along with a Canadian Folk Music Awards for Solo Artist and nomination for English Songwriter of the Year, five Native American Music Award nominations, plus a nomination for Canada’s most prestigious music accolade, the Polaris Music Prize .
“I was making up for lost time,” he said simply when talking to the CBC in 2021 after receiving the Juno Award nominations.
Never Let the Lights Go Dim
Douglas McLean had the great privilege to have a long conversation with Justin Saladino about his newest album release “Honest Lies”, an exhilarating set of songs and a progressive step for the Americana/Blues artist. Lyrically adventurous and thrilling musically, the Justin Saladino Band (JSB) create some timely and forthright material about the times we live in and the impact on us all.
Justin graced our conversation with some guitar discussion and demonstration, of which I am a big fan. He’s been playing since age 13 and just keeps learning more about the craft and his love of guitar shines through in every song.
A home-grown Montrealer, Justin Saladino leads a guitar-driven group with a sound palette that includes colours of Rock, Blues, Americana, Funk, and Jam - bridging genres and influences to create the contemporary roots sound that they’re revered for. What is certain, is anything JSB do will include powerful guitar playing, sultry vocals, and genre-blending compositions that are uniquely the bandleader’s own signature. Firmly backed by the foundation of Denis Paquin and Gabriel Forget, the explosive core trio has brought their acclaimed albums No Worries, A Fool’s Heart, JSB Live and Honest Lies to stages across Eastern Canada and beyond.
Sink Or Swim
Fan the Flames
Let You Go
Douglas McLean had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Annabelle, in preparation for a show she was playing in Huntsville, Ontario. She is a masterful songwriter and performer. Her new album, ‘String Of Pearls’ is dazzling, full of fun and tenderness. A mixture of “her East European heritage with a long-standing connection to Uruguay”. It is simply great. Please check her YouTube channel to see some wonderful music and video.
Annabelle Chvostek is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter, composer and producer whose musical achievements range from folk to jazz to indie pop. She has composed music for dance and film, co-written songs with Bruce Cockburn, and was once in the band The Wailin' Jennys.
Born in Toronto, Annabelle began her career as part of Montreal's eclectic arts scene in the 90's and early 2000's, performing regularly at Le Boudoir, a queer, feminist 1920s-inspired cabaret series, and self-releasing four full-length albums between 1997-2003. In 2004 Annabelle joined The Wailin’ Jennys and wrote four songs on the multiple award-winning album Firecracker, which was on the Billboard Bluegrass charts for 69 weeks, peaking at #2. After departing from the Jennys, she released the album Resilience (2008), produced by the Grammy-nominated Roma Baran (Laurie Anderson) and Vivian Stoll, Rise (2012), co-produced with Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith), and Be The Media (2015), co-produced with Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions. Rise was nominated for a Juno Award in the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year category, and both Rise and Resilience were nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Annabelle also co-wrote two songs with Bruce Cockburn for his Juno-winning album A Small Source of Comfort (2011).
In 2015, Annabelle was forced into a slower and quieter pace due to a series of health crisis, including an ongoing struggle with severe hearing loss and tinnitus in her left ear, triggered by a feedback blast during a soundcheck in England in 2008. With support from Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts, she became the artist-in-residence at Toronto's community-based Echo Women's Choir between 2016-18. During this time, she developed skills in choral arrangement, composition and conducting under the mentorship of choral directors, Alan Gasser and Becca Whitla.
In 2017, Annabelle played her first gigs in Montevideo with Fernando on bass and Arturo Chilindron on drums. Annabelle's music was well-received by Uruguayan audiences, inspiring the newly-formed ensemble to deepen their collaboration from within Fernando's diverse musical community. Fernando's arrangements for the upcoming album draw from Uruguayan tango and early jazz-inspired winds. His lyrical orchestral instrumentations on “Walls” and “Halfway Through” were inspired by Canadian producer Bob Ezrin's work on Lou Reed's “Berlin” and Pink Floyd's “The Wall”.
Combining Canadian and Uruguayan songwriting traditions with the nostalgia for eras gone by was a fascinating place for Annabelle, and she believes that there is an openness and desire for a diversity of cultural inputs within the world of roots music. “This tapestry of interweaving cultural histories is very much tied to my own experience growing up in Toronto in an intercultural family, and raising my own daughter in two distinct cultural settings. My experience is by no means unique, and I think the universality of this experience, a very Canadian one, will resonate with a broad audience across cultures and age groups. I think music has the potential to tap into an openness that allows us to listen to new perspectives in unconventional ways, and it is my goal as an artist to think and rethink the ways in which this could be possible.”
All Have Some
String Of Pearls
Je t'ai vue hier soir
Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen cover)
Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards
Silvano Ancellotti, guitarist from the Italian Celtic Punk-Rock band, Uncle Bard & the Dirty Bastards, joins Douglas McLean in this rip roaring edition of Backstage on the Sound Café Magazine.
The band is proud and excited to have released its new album, The Story So Far, worldwide on Angel Air Records.
The band is a brand-new signing to Angel Air Records, which plans to give the them a huge global push. The Story So Far is a compilation album of the band’s most popular songs, which are culled from their previous four critically acclaimed albums including The Cellar Tapes, Get the Folk Out!, Handmade! and The Men Behind the Glass, all of which have been released independently by the band. The album also includes one new, previously unreleased track entitled Molly Maguire's
Simply put, the album rocks like mad in the finest of the Celtic Punk-Rock tradition. In the same vein as bands like The Pogues, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, to name a few, the band’s musical stew is a hot blend of original music that combines rock, punk, folk, and traditional Irish music.
The current lineup features Lorenzo Testa on banjo/mandolin, Silvano Ancellotti on lead guitar, Roberto Orlando on bass, Luca Telizzi on drums, Guido Domingo on lead vocals and Luca Crespi on tin whistle, Irish flute, and Uilleann Pipes.
Yes, the band members are all Italian, but, their love for Ireland and its Celtic music is real. They’ve spent a lot of time in the Emerald Isle over the years, soaking up the Irish culture and Irish music scene (along with a few pints of Guinness), honing their Celtic music style to a tee. Their respect and knowledge of Irish society, culture and its music is real…so much so that Ireland has adopted them as native music sons.
The band’s live shows are joyous, exhilarating, memorable experiences, where their energy and passion for their music is unending and their connection to their audience is palpable and, of course, where the Guinness never ceases to flow.
They were the first Italian band to perform at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio, USA, which is the most important Irish music festival in the U.S., and they have toured countless times throughout the U.K. and Europe since forming in 2007.
The Flat Above My Pub
In this intimate and personal conversation David Myles takes us inside the making of It’s Only a Little Loneliness, his fifteenth album release – an album of very special songs lyrically, thematically and beautifully performed and recorded.
Our most fundamental questions — about how to exist in this world we share, and how best to love the people we love — so often keep us awake at the end of the day, at a loss for answers. From the plaintive opening notes of David Myles’ It’s Only a Little Loneliness, the New Brunswick-based songwriter testifies that he’s no exception.
“I could try to explain what goes on in my brain, but I’d have to pretend that I knew,” he sings on “Certain.” On his introspective 15th studio album, Myles establishes himself as a seeker — of paths, of new sonic expressions, of God. Concrete answers, however, elude him the same as they elude the rest of us. All of that seeking reveals one clear conclusion, though: we are bound to each other. “But it’s late at night, and I’m reaching for the light,” he continues over soft, arpeggiated guitar on the album’s opening track. “And I want to spend my whole life with you.”
“It's the kind of thing you say to yourself when you're feeling a bit down: ‘It’s only a little loneliness,’” Myles says about the album’s title on a drive through northern New Brunswick. “But then at the same time, you know — it's actually quite a big thing. It's overwhelming. You try to tell yourself it's not a big deal but it feels quite fundamental. And you realize, ‘I need people. I need a community. I need my friends. I need my family.”
That’s clear from songs like the sweet “If I Lost You,” simultaneously uplifting and heavy as Myles deals with the fact that everything must end, and what that means for relationships based in love. On the smoky “Mystery,” he addresses the enigmatic magnetism of opposites attracting, reminding listeners that those who are different from us broaden our perspectives and make our lives richer.
Sometimes it takes something massive, though — a rending of the fabric of one’s reality—to see our interdependence on one another clearly enough to inspire profound changes. In 2018, Myles came down with a sudden illness that had him worried that his life and ability to make music were in jeopardy; in 2020, the world changed overnight, upending his life and career along with everyone else. “My worst fear was to have the career drop,” Myles says. “And then, for reasons beyond my control, it dropped for me. And I didn't die. And it didn't all fall apart.”
It took a lot of soul-searching to get to this point, where he could look back on the past few years and understand what it had taught him. During this period his bandwidth for putting on any kind of airs was completely depleted, and he realized that with the time he has, he has to be 100% himself, which meant following those thoughts that kept him up at night, learning how to best express them, and confronting them through music. “All of a sudden, I could talk about God in my songs, and I could talk about the mystery of relationships and love and confusion and loneliness,” Myles says.
In 2021, the Juno-nominated album That Tall Distance offered an instrumental expression of Myles’ feelings about these questions. It’s Only a Little Loneliness brings his voice and words into the mix, using the same recording approach, with each contributing player afforded as much time as they need to lay down their parts at home and complete the picture. The result is a collection that flows naturally, a whole that proves more than the sum of its dynamic and singular parts.
For Myles, it was imperative that percussion form the beating heart of the record, and Joshua Van Tassel’s intricate work drives songs like “Walk With Me,” as Myles seeks to fill his spiritual void. The virtuosic Leith Fleming-Smith appears on organ and Wurlitzer, and Asa Brosius provides the dreamy title track dobro solo and gossamer pedal steel for the cover of country heartbreak standard “Making Believe.” Elsewhere, Dean Drouillard provides the crucial low end on bass; Andrew Jackson blows trombone; and Aaron Davis provides the glowing piano work on curtain-closer “Solitaire.”
All over the album, the voices of dear friends—Rose Cousins (“Making Believe”), Breagh Isabel (“If I Lost You”), and Reeny and Haliey Smith (“Mystery,” “Walk With Me,” and the slinky and soulful “You Can’t Hurt Me”)—drive home that important sentiment: we need each other to get through, even if it’s just a little loneliness.
Over these past years of isolation, Myles has continued to seek connection via his “not-so-late night talk show” Myles From Home on YouTube, which has since become a popular podcast by the same name. Myles From Home has featured a diverse selection of guests including Jeremy Dutcher, Shad, Alex Cuba, Bahamas, and Ria Mae. The podcast is just another feather in the multifaceted cap of Myles’ career, which includes numerous awards and accolades, a robust artist profile stateside, a 2018 children’s book called Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo, and the biggest-selling rap single in the history of Canadian music, “Inner Ninja,” a cross-genre musical collaboration with rapper Classified.
You Can’t Hurt Me (feat. Reeny Smith & Haliey Smith)
Walk With Me
Francine Honey writes songs that cut right through to the heart with an authentic, plain spoken, hard won truth that will invite you to spend your day listening over and over to her stories and personal insights. In a long, fun, and joyful conversation, Francine takes us down the roads she’s travelled in the making of her newest album “I Carry On”.
Hard-luck stories can have happy endings. Especially in Francine Honey's world. With a mission of helping people get through life with music, Honey offers “real” music that is described as a mixed tape of Americana, Alt-Country, Singer-Songwriter, Folk, and Blues. Some sass mixed in with a unique voice as sweet as Honey but most of all, Honey tells stories in her songs, and she has a lot of stories to tell!
Her own journey through life's changes has been years in the making. Although she's been making music since childhood, Honey never dreamed of making it a career. Instead, she studied mathematics and computer science, got married, had kids, and worked as a project manager in the Canadian Federal Government. Her life seemed perfect. Then a near-simultaneous breakup and job loss forced her to relocate, find a new career and raise a family alone. Music went on the back burner; she never stopped writing, but songs went unfinished. “I finally realized I had stories to share, and there was still an opportunity for me to turn my musical hobby into my profession.”
So, she left her full-time job in 2013 to pursue music full-time under her maiden name Francine Leclair. Along the way, the down-to-earth artist has displayed extraordinary dedication to her craft. She self-produced her 2008 debut album An Ordinary Woman in her living room. It was followed in 2014 by Re-Drawn, produced by Lang Bliss in Nashville. In 2015, she re-recorded many of her early songs for the EP An Ordinary Woman (In Studio) with Mark Plancke of SharkTank Productions in Windsor, ON. Honey took a few years to work on her craft, studying, exploring, and chasing her sound.
In 2018, she began working with Grammy-nominated producer Neilson Hubbard in Nashville, TN. Honey recorded her full-length album to be continued… live off the floor in six days. to be continued… has received critical acclaim internationally, and her song “Stay” was a top 10 finalist in the 2018 International Songwriting Competition in two categories. Honey’s songwriting was recognized from more than 19,000+ entries around the world, receiving semi-finalist nominations in both the Americana and Blues categories. In addition, “Stay” was a semi-finalist in the 2018 Canadian Songwriting Competition (Folk/Singer/Songwriter). The Austin Songwriting Group in Texas awarded her first-place honours in the Country category for “Stay” and first place in the Singer-Songwriter category for “Can’t Break Through to You” in April 2020, along with five other song placements. The song and video “Snowflakes On My Eyelashes” which features mentor and friend Beth Nielsen Chapman (“This Kiss”) garnered over 1.8 million views and its accompanying video was a finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest.
As a bilingual artist, Honey released the single “Chez mon oncle Lucien” in Mar 2019. This song received regular radio play on various Sirius XM French Country stations as well as internationally. Honey’s other French releases include “Floçons de neiges sur mes cils” in Jan 2019 with radio airplay on CBC Radio-Canada and “Je vis sans limites”, the French version of the song “I Soldier On” released on the Re-Drawn album in support of the Soldier On fund in 2014. This song continues to be sought out for Remembrance Day ceremonies in schools.
Honey released the album Take Me to the North Pole in 2019 featuring 2 original songs along with re-imagined Christmas classics with a Country-Americana southern swagger. This album made Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 50 Christmas Albums of the year.
This was followed by 6 singles from newly released full-length album I Carry On, starting with
“Red Sky” late in 2019. When the pandemic hit the world in March of 2020, Honey jumped onto the internet with a weekly livestream “Honey In Your Coffee” all while continuing to record and release music and videos internationally.
Honey released a song of gratitude to all essential workers entitled “I Carry On” (May 2020) with a music video dedicated to them. This song has reached over 1.8 million people and has received radio airplay. It was a semi-finalist in both the International Songwriting Contest and the UK Songwriting Competition.
October 2020 saw the release of an A and B side single double single release with “2020 Vision” and “Can’t Press Reset”. Honey had recorded the importance of 2020 in Nashville in January 2020 with “2020 Vision”. This was followed by a call-to-action song in “Can’t Press Reset” so it made sense to release them together. “Can’t Press Reset” made it to #5 in the Canadian Indie Country Countdown and was a finalist in the 2020 Blues and Roots Radio International Songwriting Competition. In January 2021 with more lockdowns on the horizon and the world missing their families, Honey released another single “I’m Coming Home” which also reached #5 on the Canadian Indie Country Countdown (CICC) along with international radio airplay. Her single “Lightning” (July 2021) is a hot, steamy, haunting piano ballad chronicling the electricity of a kiss that changed her life and hit #1 in Canada in October on the CICC and #16 on the CICC chart for the entire year 2021. All these singles except for “Lightning” form part of Honey’s newly release full-length album I Carry On.
With 12 tracks consisting of a mix of 5 new songs and previously released singles; I Carry On has already received international recognition and touched many of Honey’s fans worldwide. “This album set out to make itself” Honey says. Most albums Honey has recorded to date have been intentional pieces of work recorded in sessions in Nashville lasting a week or two. The songs that find themselves on I Carry On are a compilation of songs recorded individually over the years that found their way together into a cohesive journey through the ups and downs of life celebrating the resilience of the human spirit. “We have all gone through our own individual experiences, however, we have all experienced similar emotions... grief, loss, hope, tragedy, fear, loneliness, togetherness, gratitude, anger, reaching out, reaching within, holding onto each other, dreaming of the future and celebration. A roller coaster ride on the rails of resilience that is necessary to keep going and to carry on. This collection of songs is an experience through the journey of resilience and hope for those that listen from beginning to end.”, says Honey of her fifth album I Carry On. At the beginning of 2022, I Carry On received a nomination for the Faces Magazine Ottawa 2021 Album of the Year.
So far in 2022, Honey has released 2 singles from the LP I Carry On. The single “Hold On” released in March 2022 from the album was a finalist for the 4th Annual Blues and Roots Radio International Songwriting Competition and garnered Honey the cover on Record World International Magazine. “Hold On” was written with Canadian psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Paul Wong. This song started off as a theme song for a conference to highlight the resilience of the human spirit. Honey loved the song so much that she made a few changes and released the song along with an inspirational music video.
In January, Honey has released “Hunker Down”, penned with collaborator Dan Washburn who also lends his vocals on the track as a single from the newly released LP I Carry On along with a fun, playful video. Honey produces and co-directs high quality music videos as extensions of each song. As Honey explains “When I write a song, I imagine the movie that is playing for these 3 and half minutes and eventually it becomes its own movie in a video”.
Honey’s music continues to receive critical acclaim and sees airplay on CBC, Radio-Canada, BBC, AM800, CTV, SiriusXM, Folk Roots Radio, and more across Canada, the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands. With over 20k+ fans from all corners of the world, she performs on-line with her series “Honey In Your Coffee” and has been streaming almost every live venue performance for over 5 years.
Along the way, the down-to-earth artist has displayed extraordinary dedication to her craft. As a graduate of the Berklee College of Music Professional Singer-Songwriter Certificate Program’, Honey regularly makes the nine-hour drive from Ontario, Canada, to song-writing retreats in Nashville and overseas, where she has been mentored by Nashville icons like Beth Nielsen Chapman (“This Kiss”), Mike Reid (“I Can't Make You Love Me”), Grammy-nominated songwriter and author Mary Gauthier (“Rifles and Rosary Beads”), Verlon Thompson (Boats to Build), Gretchen Peters (Independence Day) and Jonatha Brooke (Put the Gun Down). In April, she was invited to a retreat in Austin, Texas with Nashville writers Lee Starr and Russell Sutton (“My Boy”). She is a member of the Songwriter's Association of Canada (SAC), Nashville Songwriter's Association International, Canadian Country Music Association, Americana Music Association, and founded and co-ordinated the SAC’s Leamington & Windsor Regional Writer's Group for 8 years and continues to mentor other songwriters.
Honey has showcased at the Texas Songwriters Symposium four years in a row, NSAI Tin Pan North Festival, Hugh’s Room, the WinterFolk Blues and Roots Festival in Toronto, the Kingsville Folk Music Festival, and the Folk Music Ontario conference. Her music and songwriting have not only taken her through Canada and the U.S but to the U.K., Switzerland, and Italy.
Honey continues to write and co-write with other writers in Nashville and Austin aiming to have her music recorded by fellow artists and licensed for film and TV. "But really, I just want to keep going, writing and producing better songs. I'm finally a songwriter and I know I'll do this the rest of my life.”
One Big Party
I'm Coming Home
Let The Wind
I Carry On
Quote The Raven
My introduction to Quote the Raven came from Terra Spencer who mentioned meeting them at a festival in British Columbia in the spring of 2022.
“The 3- time Music Newfoundland & Labrador award winners (including 2019 and 2021 Group of the Year) have embarked on a whopping five tours of Eastern Canada, mapped out a Home Routes trek of Western Canada, opened for the Barenaked Ladies and performed at AmericanaFest in Nashville”
Jordan Coaker & Kirsten Rodden-Clarke of Quote the Raven joined me in a delightful conversation about their 2021 album, “Can’t Hold the Light”.
An impromptu trip to Nashville in 2019 set the wheels in motion for the sophomore record from Americana Folk duo, Quote the Raven. The sounds filling the Nashville airways reinvigorated the Newfoundland duo’s inspiration and they found a new home in the Americana genre. Their record Can’t Hold the Light, is a summation of the journeys that the pair have experienced over the past three years.
Collaboration has always been at the forefront of everything Quote the Raven has done. Similar to their first record Golden Hour, Can’t Hold the Light features an A-list of Canadian collaborators including Chris Kirby, Charlie A’Court, Blake Reid, Andrew Waite, Jessica Pearson, Andrew Sneddon, Nick Earle, and so many more.
In the past three years, Quote the Raven have reached over 1,000,000 streams, been added to official curated playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, and earned showcases and award nominations at the East Coast Music Awards. They’ve performed at many festivals all across Canada, toured the Arts and Culture Centres across Newfoundland, been featured regularly on Stingray’s Folk Roots channel, charted on the Canadian Country top 100 with the first 3 singles from Can’t Hold the Light and received multiple sync placements, including the CityTV drama “The Wedding Planners”.
The 3- time Music Newfoundland & Labrador award winners (including 2019 and 2021 Group of the Year) have embarked on a whopping five tours of Eastern Canada, mapped out a Home Routes trek of Western Canada, opened for the Barenaked Ladies and performed at AmericanaFest in Nashville.
Quote the Raven marry smooth vocal harmonies with an, at times, haunting aesthetic that both bewitches and allures the listener. They draw influence from the likes of Joy Williams (Civil Wars), Brandi Carlile, and The Milk Carton Kids. The pair entertain audiences with their quirky, quick wit dynamic that glimpses into the daily lives of touring musicians.
Can't Hold the Light
Through the Night
Melissa Lauren joins Douglas this week in conversation about her phenomenal new album ‘My Voice’. Melissa is a charming, vibrant conversationalist. It was such an honour to meet her.
Melissa Lauren wants to be heard. And not just because of 'My Voice', her dazzling new jazz-pop crossover gem. The singer-songwriter’s third album is her most accomplished to date and yes, you bet she wants it heard.
But her mission is larger than that. As Lauren explains, "If there’s an overarching theme to the new album’s 11 songs — a mix of originals and thoughtfully selected covers all expertly helmed by producer, mixer, and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Emond (Tyler Shaw, Alessia Cara, Matt Dusk) — it’s “the boundaries that get in the way of communicating.”
And nothing brings the boundaries quite like a lockdown triggered by a global pandemic, during which Lauren and musician husband Nathan Hiltz were marooned at home together, forced to contemplate themselves and each other as the comfortably distracting routines of daily life evaporated.
Yet by candidly distilling the experience into her songwriting on My Voice, Lauren has created an album that serves as a musical touchstone for anyone struggling to articulate the challenges, good and bad, of managing close relationships during difficult times. Call it a sonic roadmap.
“It was a tough time for Nathan and me and we got into a lot of fights,” Lauren admits with a laugh. “But I realized it all came down to feeling like you weren’t being heard, to a lack of communication. Signals can get crossed and misunderstandings can happen, but you can’t give up trying to have your voice heard. And you mustn’t forget to listen.”
Ironically, from that uneasy place sprang the vibrant, mostly upbeat songs on 'My Voice', which are exalted by an ace band including Hiltz on various guitars and banjo, Emond on everything from bass to keyboards, mandolin to guitar, as well as drummer-percussionist Dave MacDougall, pedal steel player Kevin “The General” Neal, and Jessica Deutsch on violin and viola.
At the centre of it all is Lauren’s crystal clear, emotive voice which is almost otherworldly in its range. So dexterous are Lauren’s performances that a song by Rufus Wainwright (“Oh What A World”) makes perfect sense alongside one by Cole Porter (“Easy to Love”), another by Irving Berlin (“What’ll I Do”), a Jann Arden pop hit (“Insensitive”) plus Lauren’s own compositions chronicling life in all its messy, lovely, weird, infuriating grandeur.
“Jazz is my first love, and those standards were important to include,” she says, adding — take note jazz fans — that she wrote her own intro for “What’ll I Do” and a set of alternate lyrics to Walter Donaldson’s “My Blue Heaven,” dedicated to her husband and which daughter Leah abetted.
Lauren continues: “At the same time, I think there’s something for everyone on this album. Musically, I can grab people who might not typically like jazz while lyrically, there are conversations almost everyone has had at some point in their life. My Voice dances between new and old, jazz and pop.”
Indeed, the album does waltz between intriguing themes and shape-shifting aural landscapes. Take the first single, the gently orchestral, undulating Lauren original “The Day We Stopped.” The song was sparked by a moment of mentally stepping outside of a heavy conflict with her husband, to take a minute to feel the sun. “That song was raw and very much in the moment,” she says.
Elsewhere, Lauren gives voice to a woman who kills her abusive husband because a bird on her shoulder tells her to (the inky, snaking, bass-led ballad “My Blue Friend”); contemplates two people lost from each other despite being in the same car (“Back to You,” which drapes Lauren’s silken voice across simple acoustic guitar); and the soaring gospel-tinged title track “which is about illuminating each other’s voices.”
The new album also sharpened Lauren’s writing while giving way to a new way of working. “I don’t wait around for inspiration. I treat songwriting like a job. But I am always alert to inspiration so that when I do put pen to paper, I have things to draw from.
“One thing that was different this time around was I’d make note of songs I’d hear watching a movie or shopping or whatever. When time came to write and I was seeking inspiration, I’d go back and listen to those songs and ask myself how I could capture that essence,” she laughs “but without ripping anything off!”
Central to the album was producer Emond who Lauren says was uniquely able to interpret her vision, no matter what form that took. “I’d say something like, ‘Let’s make it moody, desert, nice’ and he’d know exactly what I wanted,” she howls.
“Tyler is a fantastic musician and extremely well-versed in jazz, classical, world music. He also knows how to make something radio-friendly. I am proud of how Tyler and I worked within the jazz-pop spectrum, making deliberate choices as to which side each song would fall.”
Not that a single genre could define Lauren’s diverse career anyway. Beginning as a teenager, she performed throughout North America with the Toronto All-Star Big Band, all the while developing herself as an inimitable songwriter and performer.
Two previous solo albums, 2015’s Your Mess and 2012’s The Other Side, gathered universal acclaim, leading to marquee performances across Canada and around the world including (but not limited to) Folk Alliance International, the Halifax International Jazz Festival, and the New Skool Rules Festival in the Netherlands, plus concerts in Eastern Europe.
Additionally, her voice was featured on five tracks by Montreal electronic producer Hibernate, one included on a compilation by British dance pioneer Paul Oakenfold. Yet despite these many disparate potential avenues for success, Lauren’s focus remains squarely on her own voice, brilliantly showcased on My Voice.
“I sincerely hope the album gets radio play,” she says. “It’s a great way to reach people and have them hear the songs as they were intended, not reconfigured for a live setting. That said, I cannot wait to get out there and tour the album this fall.”
My Blue Friend
What'll I Do
The Day We Stopped
Until They Change The Song
Ansley Simpson’s newest album “She Fell From the Sky” is master work in song writing, storytelling and compelling recording. In this, her second album Ansley take us all on a timeless journey that will open the heart and mind with profound insight and hopefully instill a sense of urgency and purpose for those who have ears to hear.
“The 11 tracks of ‘She Fell From The Sky’ take us on this journey, as only Simpson can guide us. Through them, the emotional core of every second reverberates through the body, the unwavering strength of Simpson’s voice giving breath to Sky Woman’s story. Simpson sings like no other, their voice like the wind in the trees rising from your feet and her guitar follows like an extension of her body.” Niko Stratis – from www.ansleysimpson.com
Ansley Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabe musician, artist, and member of Alderville First Nation, and is known for poetic lyrics, deeply moving vocal-only performances, and dream-like arrangements.
The Tkaronto-based musician garnered two Indigenous Music Nominations and won Best New Artist in 2018 for the debut album “Breakwall”. In 2021, the collaborative work on Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s album “Theory of Ice'' landed a coveted place on the shortlist for the Polaris Prize.
Ansley’s a natural performer that holds audiences spellbound with storytelling embedded both in and out of the songs. The songwriting process was featured in an episode of APTN’s Indigenous Music series “Amplify'' for the single “Firewater” and the original score enlivened the powerful message throughout Tanya Talaga’s award-winning documentary “Spirit to Soar''.
Ansley’s highly anticipated sophomore album “She Fell from the Sky'' is a journey through Indigenous reclamation coming out now, on the label Gizhiiwe (GIH jzee way).
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
No other band has bought together such individual talent to such a collective, enduring musical style than Blackie and The Rodeo Kings. Songwriters Colin Linden, Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing have blazed the airways with their own unique brand of song and performance but as Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, they have mastered and crafted a music genre all to themselves. Loved and much revered by fans and audiences around the world, their albums and long career have become iconic in the roots-rock and folk–country genre.
Tom Wilson and Colin Linden joined Backstage’s Douglas McLean for conversation about their stirring and powerful new album, O Glory, and other works from their vast catalogue.
If any band was uniquely positioned to withstand the impossible demands made by despicable COVID-19, it was Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. The proof is in their blazing new album, O Glory. While much of the planet struggled to find new ways of working, singer/songwriter and guitarists Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson coolly leveraged the flexibility that’s sustained them for 25 years, sheltering in their respective home bases of Victoria, BC, Nashville, TN, and Hamilton, ON, while using technology to bridge the chasm separating them from each other and from their rhythm section of Gary Craig and John Dymond.
With Linden producing from his Nashville digs, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings wrote and recorded 13 alternately roots-rock, folk, country, and Americana-style songs, ultimately crafting what Linden confirms is the band’s most “spiritual and political” musical statement to date.
Adds Fearing, “Like a lot of musicians, after the initial shock of the pandemic lockdown, the impetus became finding ways to connect with the world. Technology has come so far in the last few years, and it has made remote recording possible. I pounced on it. Colin gave me a lot of advice and took charge musically. It was then a matter of coming up with songs and getting them to each other.”
As they have since forming as a one-off to honour late folk hero Willie P. Bennett — continuing as smitten audiences demanded it — the JUNO Award–winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings chase musical excellence while having a ball playing with their friends. Talk about a great gig.
Blue Moon Drive (feat. Chuck Copenace)
Has Anyone Seen My Baby Here Tonight?
Stop and Listen
I Sleep Like a Fugitive
I Will See You in the Morning
Released on July 22, 2022, “No Singing or Dancing”, follows up on Barber’s 2018 highly successful album ‘Phase of the Moon” . Throughout the six song EP, Matthew Barber demonstrates yet again why he is a much beloved and revered songwriter in the pantheon of Canadian performers.
Matthew Barber is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter who has been plying his trade for two decades, releasing ten records and touring across four continents along the way. His work has garnered a couple of Juno nominations, a handful of Canadian Folk Music award nominations, and even a pair of Montreal English Theatre awards for his musical contributions in the world of the dramatic arts.
Most comfortable slinging an acoustic guitar and crooning to an attentive audience, Barber has been known to plug in and get sweaty in the din of a rock club as well from time to time. Like his heroes Neil Young and Bob Dylan, he feeds off of the contrast of intimate solo performance and electric band energy and this balance has been reflected in his body of work. From his early Paper Bag Records and Warner Music Canada days and continuing throughout his longstanding relationship with Outside Music, Barber’s album Ghost Notes has garnered millions of streams, was nominated for a Juno Award, with almost every track from the record licensed to both film and TV spots, including Hockey Night in Canada, Heartland, Gabriel’s Inferno and more.
As the road miles have accumulated, Barber’s live shows have leaned away from the raucous and more to the mellow side of things. In 2016 Matthew collaborated with his talented sister Jill Barber and the result was The Family Album and an extensive tour with three generations along for the ride. Many memorable tours happened before and after, including a 20-city tour of China, a couple of forays in Europe, several trips Down Under and countless miles on the trans-Canada highway.
In 2020 Barber was eight shows in to a sold-out U.S. tour supporting his pal Noah Reid when everything shut down and the world changed forever. Being homebound led him to focus more on his love of being in the studio and he acted as producer on a handful of records for other folks, including up and coming duo Clever Hopes, singer-songwriter Ian Lake and the aforementioned Reid with whom he has now made three albums. 2022 will see Barber releasing new music of his own for the first time since 2018’s Phase Of The Moon and he is very excited about it.
No Singing Or Dancing
Does Anybody Really Know?
Every Time You Cry
Sing Me To Sleep
Welcome to Backstage with Douglas McLean.
I was delighted to speak again with Ken Yates, June 14,2022 about his beautiful new album, ‘Cerulean’.
Born and raised in London, Canada, Ken Yates has gained a reputation as one of his country’s brightest rising singer-songwriters. The winner of two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Songwriter of the Year and New Artist of the Year, Yates has spent recent years expanding his sound and touring North America and Europe.
His new album Cerulean (out on Soundly Music 6/3/22) steps firmly into indie folk and alternative territories, and captures Yates at his most vulnerable. The cool-hued record was written as an intimate reckoning as he grieved his dying mother, giving listeners a vivid window into the rollercoaster of intense thoughts and emotions that accompany such a personal, yet universal experience.
“I used to go searching for the darkness. With this record, the darkness found me first. This is me finding my way out of it.”
Channeling pain into beauty, Ken Yates’ fourth album is a breathtaking triumph of the human spirit. The cool-hued Cerulean captures the artist’s intimate reckoning as he grieved his dying mother, giving listeners a vivid window into the rollercoaster of intense thoughts and emotions that accompany such a personal, yet universal experience. The result is a transcendent record that surges with tightly held energy and intimate moments. The listener hears the artist growing in real time, moving towards a space of acceptance and peace as he himself moved to the country, began therapy, and wrote the songs he needed to hear.
Cerulean may be born from grief, but it is not musically grieving: its surefooted and softly radiant arrangements shine with the quiet hope of a soul put through the wringer. “This is the first time that I’ve made a record where I feel like the songs were going to be written whether I wanted to release an album or not,” Yates explains. “I was writing because I needed to. I never would have described songwriting as a cathartic process in the past; it was just something I liked to do.”
With three albums under his belt, the Ontario born songwriter spent the past decade establishing himself as a talented folk artist with a penchant for thoughtful lyrics and evocative melodies. He won two Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2017, and supported Passenger on both the European and North American legs of his recent tour.
Nonetheless, Cerulean feels like a hard reset on Yates’ art and artistry. Reuniting with producer Jim Bryson, the album firmly steps into indie folk and alternative territories – he cites Big Thief, Andy Shauf, and The War On Drugs as a few of his inspirations. Thematically, this is Yates at his most honest and raw. "The record begins with a tone of paranoia facing the daily fear of what the world is becoming," he explains. “As the album progresses, the songs begin to look more and more inward. Moving through the anxiety and bitterness I was feeling. Still, there’s a lot of positivity in it. Maybe I was trying to take a step back to remind myself of all the good things and the full spectrum of color in my life. My wife and I moved out of our apartment in Toronto to the country, got a dog, and found a bigger space where I was able to make a little musical corner for myself. I started seeing a therapist too. That, along with working on this record, helped pull me out of the foggy bitterness I was in.
Reflecting back now, I can almost hear myself processing what I was going through in real time, to the point where even the track listing was obvious– an accurate timeline of the feelings and emotions I was dealing with.”
Cerulean opens with “The Big One (ft. Kathleen Edwards),” an achingly poignant song that starts, quite poetically, at the end. “A friend kept talking about The Big One, a high-magnitude earthquake expected to strike the Pacific Northwest. In the last couple of years it feels like we have all developed a slight doomsday mentality, myself included; feeling like the world might be ending. Of course, we’re not really sure how, so that song is reckoning with the ‘armageddon’, and a realization of how trivial a lot of our personal relationships or conflicts can be when we are staring face-to-face with the end. The only thing to do is ride out your last few moments with the people you love.”
Yates dives deeper into himself as Cerulean progresses, searching for meaning in the world and working through everything from insomnia, denial, and nihilism, to hope and appreciation. The artist envelops himself in a blanket of plaintive, somber introspection on “Best of the Broken Things,” a comforting ballad in which he gives a pep talk to his own reflection.
An album standout, he paints a portrait of relatable restlessness on “Don’t Mean to Wake You” (ft. Stephanie Lambring), a warm and driving folk rock reverie. Yates finds himself lost in a pool of thoughts that gnaw at him so much that he has to turn over and wake his partner. It’s as much an attempt to save himself from himself, as it is a gentle cry for help.
The dynamic and driving “Honest Light” similarly finds him reassuring himself, this time from within. “My wife always refers to golden hour as ‘honest light’, when the light illuminates all the dust on your floor and the crumbs on your counter”, Yates explains. “I had the line, ‘life is like a cheap wine, it don’t get any better with time.’ I merged the title and line together as sort of this acceptance that things are not alright, but you’ll be alright.”
This mature recognition of life’s imperfection proves the lifeblood of Cerulean, and every time Yates seems to be on the verge of sinking, he swims – held afloat not only by his own inner strength, but also by his community. Cerulean is a group effort, with features from singer/songwriter contemporaries including Kathleen Edwards, Stephanie Lambring, Katie Pruitt, and more.
“Although these songs were born in a period of isolation, it turned out to be my most collaborative album yet. There are full band arrangements on every song, and a few of my favourite artists lenT their voices, which really brought this record to life”.
After forty minutes spent exploring a world of vulnerable depths and soaring sonics, Cerulean closes in a moment of tranquility. “The final song, ‘Cerulean’, is about searching for balance – an equilibrium. We move through this endless colour wheel of emotions every day, but you have to find those small moments of peace and acceptance, and reassure yourself, ‘I’m okay.’
Yates’ mother Beverley passed away in August 2021.
“I’m strangely in a better headspace now than I was a year ago when she was still with us,” he admits. “I may owe that to taking a hard look at myself through the lens of these songs”.
Now that he’s on the other side, Yates says this album proved a transformative experience – allowing him to grow, while giving him some much-needed resolution to the past few years.
“I feel more open than ever, at peace with where I am as an artist,” he reflects. “This is the first time I’ve had a real personal story I wanted to tell. It does feel like I’ve had a moment to reset my life, and now I can start to share that with the rest of the world.”
Loss is a shared human experience. Through Cerulean, Ken Yates not only puts the full scope of his own healing process on display, but he also reminds us that we’re not alone in our pain – and that with time, we may just find our way to acceptance.
Written by Mitch Mosk - Atwood Magazine
SOURCE - http://www.kenyates.com/
The Big One (feat. Kathleen Edwards)
When We Came Home
Don't Mean to Wake You (feat. Stephanie Lambring)
Honest Light (feat. Caroline Marie Brooks)
Crystal Shawanda will be at Etwell Concert Series, 2012 Etwell Rd, Huntsville. Sunday August 07,2022 at 3:00pm
Recent Juno winner for outstanding blues album, Crystal Shawanda is highly established as one of the leading female Blues singers in North America.The Ojibwe Potawatomi Indigenous singer was born in Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Ontario and even though she now lives in Nashville, she keeps her roots close to her heart and soul. One has to look no further than her latest CD “Church House Blues” to feel the connection.
There’s a tendency these days to try to pigeonhole any artist that attempts to breach the boundaries. Chalk it up to the restrictions of radio playlists or the media’s attempt to strictly define musicians by the music it believes artists ought to be making, creative instincts be damned. Nevertheless Crystal Shawanda opted to defy those demands and chart her own path forward.
Initially signed to RCA in 2007, she hit her stride as a country singer and songwriter when she scored a top 20 hit with her song “You Can Let Go” and subsequently tallied sales of over 50,000 copies of her debut album Dawn of a New Day and subsequently debuted in the Billboard Top 20. She began to realize that the blues had captured her muse, and with that, she left the label, shifted her stance and began recording albums that reflected her love of blues and her natural affinity for that sound.
As she once told an interviewer, “The whole time I was singing Patsy Cline on stage, I was singing Etta James at home.”
Her new album Church House Blues (released April 17th on True North Records) reflects that dedication and devotion and finds her co-writing seven of the ten songs on the album. Produced by her husband, collaborator and cowriter Dewayne Strobel, it not only marks her fourth blues effort to date, but one of her most demonstrative as well. That’s evident at the outset, from the fiery delivery of the title track, the riveting drive of “New Orleans Is Sinking,” and the assertive strains of “Rather Be Alone,” to the quiet, contemplative desire and despair that scorches “Evil Memory,” the radio-ready hooks illuminated in “Hey Love,” and the emotive strains instilled in the bittersweet ballads “When It Comes To Love” and “Bigger Than the Blues.” At the center of it all is Crystal’s evocative vocals, a powerful, provocative force of nature that elevates each encounter and sends the album’s entries soaring towards the stratosphere.
Credit is also due to some spectacular guest artists, including session superstar Dave Roe on bass (Johnny Cash, Yola, Ceelo Green, among the many), the McCrary Sisters on backing vocals, Dana Robbins of Delbert McClinton’s band on sax, and Peter Keys of Lynyrd Skynyrd playing keys.
Wang Dang Doodle/
Church House Blues
How Bad Do You Want It
Pray Sister Pray
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/crystalshawanda2011
“Chuck Wright’s ‘Sheltering Sky’, is a superb mix of modern songwriting and stellar performances. Dipping in and out of styles and genres, Wright’s timely songs and lyrics, will kick you right in the heart and the head at the same time. A powerful surprise that needs careful, attentive listening.” - Douglas McLean, The Sound Cafe Magazine.
Chuck Wright, longtime Quiet Riot bassist, is proud and excited to release his debut solo album, Chuck Wright ‘s Sheltering Sky, on Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records.
The album features guest appearances by several of Wright’s musical peers including keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Billy Idol), guitarist Lanny Cordola (House of Lords), vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen), Troy Luccketta (Tesla) and the late Mr. Big drummer, Pat Torpey.
The album’s 11 tracks also illustrate Wright’s impressive songwriting ability as he either wrote or co-wrote all nine original songs on the album. Also included is an edgy, intense version of Bjork’s “Army of Me” along with a soulful, Celtic-rock take on the The Youngbloods classic, “Darkness, Darkness.” Chuck also produced and engineered most of the album.
Sheltering Sky exhibits a diversity and breadth of musical styles that embraces facets of Wright’s hard rock legacy while also delving into a more varied side of Chuck’s musical vision with well-written songs that feature ethereal guitar work, tasteful, soulful 70s era influences, Prog, Jazz Fusion and even a bit of heavy funk. Besides his usual outstanding bass work as performed on a variety of different bass instruments, Wright also contributes on keys and acoustic guitar on several tracks.
Wright is best known as a long-time member of multi-platinum heavy metal band Quiet Riot. He originally joined Quiet Riot in 1981, playing bass on the tracks "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" and "Don't Wanna Let You Go," as well as singing background vocals on all tracks from the 1983 multi-platinum album Metal Health, which was the first metal album to ever reach #1 on the Billboard 200 chart (in November 1983).
He performed, toured the world, and recorded with Quiet Riot on-and-off for 26 years…recording nine albums with the band, before departing the band again.
Wright is also a former member of hard rock band Giuffria, and a founding member of hard rock band, House of Lords, for which he recorded four albums.
His reputation as a sought-after bass player has landed him gigs with Alice Cooper, Slash, Gregg Allman, Carmine Appice, Ronnie Montrose, John Waite, and Pat Travers, amongst others.
Wright has appeared on over 100 worldwide record releases, playing bass, and producing albums of various styles, including ambient trance, reggae, rap, country, and, of course, rock.
Wright has headed up Ultimate Jam Night, a long-running live music show since January 2015, at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood. Ultimate Jam Night features up to 60 pro musicians each week.
Army Of Me
The Weight Of Silence
The Other Side
Giving Up The Ghost
The Bros. Landreth
The Bros. Landreth welcome a new day with 'Come Morning', an album that marks both a rebirth and refinement of the JUNO-winning band's blend of North American roots music and harmony-heavy soul.
The most immersive, emotive record of the Landreths' career, 'Come Morning' finds brothers Joey and Dave lacing their melody-driven songs with layers of atmospheric synth, organ, and textured guitar. The group's previous albums shone a light on their strength as a live act, capturing the spontaneity and sonic stomp of a band of hard-touring road warriors. If those records unfolded like snapshots of The Bros. Landreth's night-time shows, then 'Come Morning' sketches a markedly different picture, showcasing the introspection and clarity that comes with a long period of rest.
For Joey and Dave, rest wasn't always an easy thing to find. After pursuing separate careers as sidemen, they launched The Bros. Landreth with 2013's 'Let It Lie', a debut album that drew upon the shared soundtrack of their childhood — Bonnie Raitt's blues, Little Feat's funky country-rock, Ry Cooder's eclectic instrumentals, Lyle Lovett's twangy traditionalism — for a sound that saluted the past while planting its flag firmly in the present. 'Let It Lie' was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, winning the 2015 JUNO Award for "Roots & Traditional Album Of The Year - Group," earning The Bros. Landreth a nomination for "International Artist of the Year" at the 2016 UK Americana Music Awards, and receiving praise from heroes like Bonnie Raitt. Years of near-constant touring in support of its release left the brothers exhausted, however, and the band took a three-year break before regrouping for 2019's ''87'.
When the Covid-19 pandemic brought ''87''s' accompanying tour to a halt, Joey and Dave began recording a new batch of songs in near-seclusion, pulling long hours in the studio and building songs one instrument at a time. They layered, experimented, and twisted sounds into something new, working alongside longtime co-producer Murray Pulver and a small group of guests. What emerged from those sessions was 'Come Morning': a transportive album built for the heart, the head, and the headphones.
Drive All Night (Radio Edit)
Made Up Mind
After The Rain
Back To Thee
Don't Feel Like Crying (feat. Leith Ross)
Matt Weidinger sat down with host Douglas McLean in conversation about his career to date, his song writing and his show he performed at Peter’s Players on May 21 just passed - Matt Weidinger Presents: The Music of Van Morrison
Matt is a versatile musician, an exciting songwriter and performer plus being a genuine, friendly, and knowledgeable musicologist.
“The 28-year-old Kitchener, Ontario native is a passionate young songwriter, who is well known for his mature rock/soul vocals and impressive multi-instrumental (organ, guitar) talents.
His unmistakable earthly tones captivate the hearts of anyone who hears it. He performs like a veteran musician on the piano and organ, and is equally proficient on guitar, or mandolin.
Although some consider him a throw back of the ’60s, he still has the capacity to grab the attention of both the old, young and everyone in between. He’s an “old soul” who easily commands the attention of any crowd. His passion for music and performing is contagious.
Starting his music career at the ripe age of 15, Weidinger has had the pleasure of playing a variety of venues around Southwestern Ontario on a weekly basis. He also performs at multiple blues festivals around the province.” - Peter’s Players
It Ain't Easy
Going to California
He Don't Need Love
Talented singer-songwriter Deborah Bonham and guitarist-songwriter Peter Bullick (who are husband and wife), along with their band and special guests, have recorded a new 13-track self-titled covers album which is an inspiring blend of blues, rock, and a bit of soul. The music on this excellent new album, which was released on Quarto Valley Records (QVR) on April 29, is in the tradition of the great blues-rock of the 1970s whilst also being deeply entrenched in classic blues and soul.
Deborah Bonham, the younger sister of legendary rock drummer John Bonham, of Led Zeppelin fame, is a powerful vocalist, well versed in rock blues. She has worked with and graced the stages of Paul Rogers, Robert Plant and many more of the 70’s greats. Her new album is filled with the songs she loves, dedicated to the great blues artists of yesteryear.
Peter Bullick is a versatile, masterful guitarist who long worked with the legendary Paul Rogers and many others.
See What You're Doing To Me
What Did I Do Wrong
When This World Comes To An End
It Ain't Easy
The Kentucky Headhunters
Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters, joins host Douglas McLean to discuss the band’s new album, ‘ That’s A Fact Jack!’, guitars, radio shows and song writing.
Overall, the Kentucky Headhunters have released eight studio albums, three compilations, and twenty-three singles. They have toured the world countless times and still perform relentlessly to their rabid fan base. They also had time to finally make their Grand Ole Opry debut in December 2021.
The band’s early music was country oriented but over time they’ve developed into a band that also plays and records head-crushing rock ‘n’ roll, fiery Southern guitar rock and a knack for serious blues that showcases just how overall talented these guys are. Greg Martin’s guitar playing shines throughout the eye of this musical hurricane no matter what style of music they perform. He’s probably the main reason many folks describe the band’s sound as “guitar-heavy, rambunctious music.”
A highlight of Martin’s life over the past 20+ years has been his radio show, the previously mentioned Lowdown Hoedown. Greg’s gift of gab, sense of humor, down-to-earth personality, and an ability to both entertain his audience and relate comfortably to his on-air/studio guests have made the show a popular regional must-listen radio staple.
That's A Fact Jack
Heart and Soul
Let's All Get Together and Fight
Water Colors, in the Rain
For thirty years, Blue Rodeo have been a dominant force on the Canadian music scene. Known for their exemplary song writing and thrilling performances, Blue Rodeo are considered one of Canada’s greatest and most beloved bands.
Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo joined host Douglas McLean in conversation regarding their phenomenal new album ‘Many a Mile’, a set of songs to be treasured and loved for years to come.
Coherent certainly, though even hardcore Blue Rodeo fans are likely to be floored by the sheer sonic scope of Many A Mile, which, while slotting broadly into the alt-country/rock category long associated with the band, the album also contains a constellation of surprising textures and touches across its 12 songs.
Never Like This Before
When You Were Wild
All In Your Hands
I Will Wait for You
Ride Your Bike
One of music's most recognizable and influential artists, Missing Person's, Dale Bozzio, shares her most intimate and inspirational moments in her superb autobiography, ‘ Life is So Strange’.
Bozzio kisses and tells all, weaving stories from throughout her entire life including her childhood, her time as a Playboy bunny, her fateful introduction to Frank Zappa, her meteoric rise with Missing Persons, her love affair and collaborations with Prince, and so much more!
In conversation with Douglas McLean about her illustrious career and the song writing that has sustained her whole adventurous life.
Somewhere There Forever (feat. Dale Bozzio)
Destination Unknown (feat. Dale Bozzio)
Riot in English
Born in the mid-80s, singer-songwriter Jerry Leger came of age in the Upper Beaches area of Toronto. Surrounded by music from a young age, his grandfather first turned him onto Hank Williams, constantly playing the youngster a plethora of the honky tonk master’s great recordings. Although Williams’ voice came from another world in terms of time, geography, and class, Leger was intrigued by the ways that Williams’ songs told a story and often conjured up mysterious images in his head.
Other seminal influences were slowly added including John Lennon (and the Beatles), Bob Dylan, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, the Everly Brothers, Tom Waits, and Gordon Lightfoot.
Jerry Leger’s newest album, Nothing Pressing, released March 16th, 2022, is the best! Full of energetic and carefully crafted melodies and lyrics, Leger again displays why so many think he is one Canada’s great rock and roll artists, as well a pre-eminent songwriter. Jerry joined Douglas McLean in conversation about his career, songwriting approach, tour plans and before his show on April 01, 2022 at Bracebridge Hall in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.
Kill It with Kindness
A Page You've Turned
The Great Unknown
Have You Ever Been Happy?
Survived Like a Stone
Wait a Little Longer
Big Little Lions
Big Little Lions are an award winning duo, Helen Austin and Paul Otten, who were born out of a collaboration that won them a JUNO Award in 2014. Since then they have been cranking out infectious folk pop songs that are jam-packed with emotion and tight harmonies that sound like the product of two people working side-by-side instead of living in different countries.
They have released 6 albums to date, which have garnered them awards including the CFMA Ensemble of the Year, Independent Music Awards Americana Single of the Year and the John Lennon Songwriting Competition Song of the Year. Their critically acclaimed music has appeared on the CBC’s Top 20 and featured on shows like q and Vinyl Cafe. The duo are both hugely prolific songwriters - their music has been placed in hundreds of movie trailers, ads, network TV shows and on MTV.
They are currently releasing a new song a month, most of which are on some great Spotify editorial playlists. Their music has been dubbed ‘a blissful marriage of new folk and sophisticated pop’ by Mariposa Folk Festival, and is packed with emotion and tight harmonies.
“What is truly amazing about Big Little Lions is that its two members, Helen Austin and Paul Otten, were born to make music together, their voices made to combine, but they are in different countries. It just goes to show you, destiny is a powerful force.” [east of 8th]
John Lennon Songwriting Competition Song of the Year
CFMA Ensemble of the Year
Nominated for many CFMA Awards
Nominated for many Western Canadian Music Awards
International Songwriting Competition and Unsigned Only Winners various years
Canadian Songwriting Competition Folk Winner
Independent Music Award Americana Song of the Year
CBC’s Top 20
CBC Vinyl Cafe
Hundreds of movie trailers, ads, network TV shows plus MTV
Only A Friend Like You
Never Mind The Weather
Time Doesn't Stop
We Were Young
Matt Andersen is a Canadian blues guitarist and singer-songwriter from Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, signed to True North Records. He is a Juno Award nominee. His musical career started in 2002 with the New Brunswick band Flat Top.
Known for his powerful vocals and guitar wizardry, Matt Andersen has toured the world performing his one-man stage show, delighting audiences time and again. He returned to Huntsville, ON March 20th, 2022 to the Algonquin theatre for a single show, which began a busy touring schedule for the rest of the summer, across Canada, United States and Europe.
His new album, House to House, released March 04,2022 is a stunning display of his artistry. Performed only on acoustic guitar and joined by some friends on vocals, the songs, many co-written with some of Canada’s top songwriters, is a powerful testament to the grace and healing gift of music. Intimate, tender and timely, Matt Andersen takes the listener on a journey of renewal with deep emotionally insight, through an historic period when hope seems lost and love unrecognizable.
In addition to headlining major festivals, clubs and theatres throughout North America, Europe and Australia, Andersen has shared the stage and toured with Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Randy Bachman, Little Feat, April Wine, America, Loverboy, Jonny Lang, Serena Ryder, and Beth Hart.
Other Side of Goodbye
Time for the Wicked to Rest
Coal Mining Blues
All We Need
People Get Ready
A lot has happened in the almost 10 years since Séan McCann exited the iconic and world-renowned Newfoundland folk-rock outfit that he co-founded- GREAT BIG SEA. He’s released six successful solo albums touching on a range of subjects from Canadian life and culture to spotlighting national hardships like the infamous 2016 wildfires that devastated Fort McMurray, Alberta, in which he partnered with the Canadian Red Cross.
A philanthropist as much as he is an artist, McCann also organized a songwriters benefit in 2017 in support of veterans suffering from PTSD and addiction, enlisting his fellow musician friends, Joel Plaskett, Sarah Harmer, and Jeremy Fisher. In recognition of these efforts and his other advocacy work for people living with mental health and addiction issues, McCann earned the Order of Canada in 2020.
Séan McCann’s own battle with overcoming alcohol addiction, coming clean, and owning his truth has been key to his growth as a husband, a father, a musician, and a human. Armed with the strength and support of his wife, Andrea Aragon, McCann co-penned his first book One Good Reason (2020). “It’s the story of how love saved their marriage, and music saved his life. It is the story of a man freed from the weight of a lie; a man who is changing his narrative and never forgetting... that he is not alone.”
Fire Down Below
Deep Blue Sea
End of the World
Go To Sea No More
Award-winning Canadian songwriter T. Buckley (T is for Tim not related to the late Tim Buckley) looks through the lens of life with his second solo album, Frame By Frame, released November 5, 2021 via Fallen Tree Records.
Buckley delivers another trademark smooth and soulful vocal performance that makes him one of western Canada's most talked-about artists. The recording sessions were fused in the winter of 2020 at the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta, with notable producer Jeff Kynoch and a core group of players: Jesse Dollimont on mandolin, guitar and backing vocals; Mitch Jay on stringed things; Steve Fletcher on keys and organs; Dan Stadnicki on drums; and Keith Rempel on bass. Kynoch's open-minded sonic approach makes for an excellent pairing with Buckley's spirit of creatively pushing the envelope.
Miles We Put Behind
For his 5th full-length release, Hermosa Star - Family Album, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter John Pippus is following a new path, away from his reputation for innovative blues and into the groove of his folk and roots influences. His wife, classically trained musician Pam Searle, sings in close harmony on every track, their decades of singing together evident in how well their voices blend.
Son Jacob Pippus — an in-demand drummer on the Vancouver scene — was enlisted, along with former bandmate, Peg Wilson, on bass and back-up vocals. Together they recorded 10 original folk-roots songs as well as the traditional 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' to close off the album.
FEATURED SONGS :
Two Sides To Every Lie
Seen A Ghost
The Devil's On His Way
Crush The Fear
Just A Dance
Whole World Watching (For Ukraine)
For 50 years, this Canadian musical legend has been capturing in song the essence of human experience – while fiercely striving to make it better.
One of Canada’s finest artists, Bruce Cockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career shaped by politics, spirituality, and musical diversity. His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, rock, and worldbeat styles while travelling to such far-flung places as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders. “My job,” he explains, “is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal.”
That scratching and pulling has earned Cockburn high praise as an exceptional songwriter and a revered guitarist. His songs of romance, protest, and spiritual discovery are among the best to have emerged from Canada over the last 50 years. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world’s top instrumentalists. And he remains deeply respected for his activism on issues from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt, working for organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth.
Throughout his career, Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear, and faith of human experience in song. Whether singing about retreating to the country or going up against chaos, tackling imperialist lies or embracing ecclesiastical truths, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance: to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight. “We can’t settle for things as they are,” he once warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.”
For his many achievements, the Ottawa-born artist has been honoured with 13 Juno Awards, an induction into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada. But, he never rests on his laurels. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next,” says Cockburn. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.”
His commitment to growth has made Bruce Cockburn both an exemplary citizen and a legendary artist whose prized songbook will be celebrated for many years to come.
Stab at Matter
Sweetness and Light
All the Diamonds In the World
Wondering Where The Lions Are
Thoughts On a Rainy Afternoon
Each One Lost
If I Had A Rocket Launcher
Pacing The Cage
New Orleans Folk Rock Diva Lilli Lewis released, Americana, her third full album for Louisiana Red Hot Records on October 29th 2021. The album was co-produced by Lewis and iconic indie producer Mark Bingham. Notable guest artists include cellist Rick Nelson (Afghan Whigs, Polyphonic Spree), folk favourite Gina Forsyth, and Seattle Blues Legend Lady A.
The record returned Lewis to her folk and roots origins, and reflects two sides of her America, that of her father’s church, and that of the “white-gaze” world that existed beyond those walls.
Of the collection Lewis says “these stories were meant to reflect the humanity of the forgotten, because in times like these, it feels like dignity can seem really hard to come by.”
Trained as an opera singer and classical pianist, singer-songwriter Lewis has been a composer, producer and performing artist for over two decades. She released her first album The Coming of John in 2003, and has been known as the Folk Rock Diva since then.
We Shall Overcome
Beauty Beyond Reason
My American Heart (feat. Gina Forsyth) [Benediction]
As the story goes, Lilli Lewis should never have been. Before she was born, Lewis’ mother was told her baby probably wouldn’t survive due to lung trouble, so the fact that Lewis now makes a living singing with those same lungs is a gift she never takes for granted. Lewis uses her voice to bring what she calls sacred songs into profane spaces, and though she’s abandoned trying to define her sound, she hopes her audiences leave shows knowing two things: that they are brilliant as they are, and that they have the ability to use that brilliance to make a better world.
Link Tree: linktr.ee/folkrockdiva
As the drummer and one of the original founding members of the legendary Yardbirds, Jim McCarty has made a life in music that spans several successful bands, numerous recordings, a solo career of deeply touching songwriter. as an author he has two books and joins Douglas McLean to discuss his latest , ‘She Walks In Beauty’ as well has his long musical adventure.
The Yardbirds are famous not only for a series of unforgettable hits during the sixties but also introducing the world to three of rock most notable solo guitarists; Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.
What’s makes Jim McCarty’s story so amazing is his continuous search for what he terms the “Bigger Picture”, as well as his prodigious work as a drummer, songwriter, band leader and author, throughout the past sixty years.
Over, Under, Sideways, Down
So Many Questions
Stop Living Life In The Past
M.D. Dunn has performed for three decades and released nine albums since 1993. His latest album, The River Lately, was released in 2018, and his third book of poems, Even the Weapons (BuschekBooks) was published in 2014. Mark's music has been played on CBC, NPR, and many college and community stations. He most frequently performs as a soloist, but has worked with several bands (The Innocent Weapon Ensemble, New Toque, Clay Rooster, Uncle OSAP & the Collection Agency, and many more).
Miracles Happen (and frequently go unnoticed) Even on a Day Like This
I thank you, god
The Cowardice of Kings
We Need Everyone
Joe Louis Walker
Joe Louis Walker’s new album, ECLECTIC ELECTRIC was released on November 12, 2021, on Los Angeles-based record label Cleopatra Records. It is a joyous recording featuring great new originals from the legendary bluesman, and some exquisite covers from the vast American Song catalogue.
The follow up to his powerful ‘Blues Comin' On’ released in 2020, Walker newest album explores the sound’s he loves best with his band and guest performers, all adding up to an exciting set of new songs and memorable moments. Joe, an articulate spokesperson for the blues and his generation of musicians, speaks candidly and openly with Douglas McLean, in a new interview following their chat in 2020. ( see The Sound Café Vault, episode #21, April 23,2021 ).
ECLECTIC ELECTRIC features an amazing array of talented guest artists.
Here is the track list along with the names of the guests:
1. Uptown Girl Blues – Songwriters: Joe Louis Walker/JoJo Russo/John Lindsay Bradford – Featuring Jimmy Vivino on guitar
2. Wine – Songwriter: Sonny West – Featuring Steve Berlin on baritone sax
3. Bad Betty – Songwriter: Joe Louis Walker
4. Gone and Alone – Songwriter: Joe Louis Walker
5. Hotel California – Songwriters: Don Henley/Glenn Frey/Don Felder – Featuring Murali Coryell on guitar
6. Regal Blues – Songwriters: Joe Louis Walker/JoJo Russo – Featuring the B.B. King Blues Band and Doyle Bramhall II on guitar
7. Make no Mistake – Songwriters: Keith Richards/Steve Jordan
8. Two Trains Running – Songwriter: McKinley Morganfield
9. Werewolves of London – Songwriters: Warren Zevon/Waddy Wachtel/LeRoy Marinell – Featuring Waddy Wachtel on guitar
10. Lady in Red – Songwriters: Jimmy Barnett/Brad Sexton – Featuring Bette Smith on vocal
11. All She Wants to Do is Dance – Songwriter: Danny Kortchmar
Joe Louis Walker is one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation. He is a four-time Blues Music Award winner and 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee who has appeared on multiple Grammy-winning albums. He is known worldwide as one of the genre’s top musical trailblazers—a mesmerizing guitarist and soul-testifying vocalist.
The New York Times raves, “Walker is a singer with a Cadillac of a voice. He delivers no-nonsense, gutsy blues. His guitar solos are fast, wiry and incisive, moaning with bluesy despair.” Rolling Stone simply calls him “ferocious.”
And Billboard writes: “His playing blows all over the map…gutbucket blues, joyous gospel, Rolling Stones-style rock crunch, and aching R&B. Walker’s guitar playing is fine and fierce."
Joe won the 2016 Blues Foundation Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year award at the Blues Foundation Awards ceremony in Memphis. The Blues Music Awards are universally recognized as the highest accolade afforded blues music performers. The annual Blues Music Awards ceremony is the premier event for blues professionals, musicians, and fans from all over the world.
Make no Mistake
Gone and Alone
Uptown Girl Blues
Werewolves Of London
Before heading out to some late summer concerts, Hawksley Workman talked at length to Douglas McLean about his new album, Less Rage More Tears, and a wide variety of other topics and songs.
Hawksley Workman is a JUNO Award-winning and Gold Record certified singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Since his ground-breaking self-produced indie debut For Him and The Girls (1999) through to chart-topping singles of 2020, Hawksley has careened between major label international smash hits to Canadiana soaked indie releases. Boasting a catalogue of 17 solo records, Hawksley’s genre defying style strings together folk, chart pop and irrepressible cabaret. His show-stopping vocals on songs about weather, love, heartbreak and tales of end-times have garnered him a league of devoted fans.
Performing over a thousand shows worldwide, Hawksley has headlined prestigious venues like Massey Hall and The Olympia in Paris. For a uniquely Canadian artist Hawksley has built loyal fan bases in the UK, France, Norway and Australia launching many successful tours, demystifying and delighting fans while drawing on an enviable catalogue of mischievous favourites, glammy stompers and heartfelt hymns to small town Canada.
Hawksley’s latest release, Less Rage More Tears was released October 23, 2020 on his indie label Isadora Records. The single "Just a Dream", which reached #1 on the CBC Music Top 20 chart, is a nostalgic feast and a perfect anthem for our collective melancholy.
Hawksley has a string of concerts coming up over the festive period and into the New Year.
Young and Wasted
We're Not Broken Yet
Birds In Train Stations
Joe Nolan is a treasured Canadian songwriter with a new album “Scrapper” emerging from the pandemic lockdown. Recorded at Scott Franchuk’s famed Riverdale Recorders studio in Edmonton, AB., the eleven songs on “Scrapper” are another demonstration of Nolan prodigious creative powers.
Joe Nolan spoke to Douglas McLean in June 2021 about the album release which was released October 2021.
Joe Nolan, who has been heralded by outlets such as the Globe & Mail and No Depression as an Americana wunderkind, is a Canadian rising star to watch out for in 2021. Nolan has been a staple songwriter in the music industry for over a decade making his first two albums in Nashville with heavyweight producer Colin Linden. He’s also recorded an EP with Hawksley Workman and John Gullmarstam in Sweden. Now he continues to build upon the massive year that came in the wake of his 2018 independently released album Cry Baby and his 2020 release Drifters.
By March 2020, Joe Nolan was a serious musical contender. He’d just returned to his hometown of Edmonton, Canada, after playing a bout of shows in Europe, the culmination of over 170 live dates that previous year, in part thanks to signing on with agent Mongrel Music Agency (Chuck Prophet, Lake Street Dive). He’d signed record deals with Rootsy Records in Sweden (John Prine, Patti Griffin, Anderson East) and Fallen Tree Records in Canada. He’d won trophies, including the Cobalt award for his songwriting at The Maple Blues Awards 2018/2020, as well as a nomination at the Breakout West Awards 2020.
Now was his time.
Then came COVID-19.
It knocked him down.
But, he wasn’t knocked out.
Instead he experienced a rush of artistic energy. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took the learnings from previous setbacks and channeled them into song, after song, after song.
Those songs coalesced to become his latest heavyweight album, Scrapper.
“I wanted to make something a little bit more edgy this time,” says Joe Nolan. “Something with some meat on the bone, something a little more punchy and gritty but I also wanted to match that energy with softness and sensitivity.”
The result is eleven songs, some finished hours before the last minute recording session he was able to book at Scott Franchuk’s famed Riverdale Recorders studio in Edmonton, AB.
The honest, intimate, original music that Joe Nolan produces can be hard to define. It’s influenced by folk and blues, compared to Leif Vollebekk and Chuck Prophet, John Prine and Jeff Tweedy, Buddy Miller and Guy Clark. Yet with his tender approach and instrumentation, he prefers to just say its Roots music, “because that’s where everything I do stems from.”
The songs cover themes of loneliness on the road, the struggles of not having a rooted home and the misunderstandings that divide friends and lovers. It’s a look outside the ring of a touring musician, with a sadness hidden beneath the melodic beauty, revealing itself as the album unfolds. Perhaps it is the spirit that comes from survival, perseverance and fortified resolve to get out there again.
“It's almost like I don't have a choice,” accepts Nolan. “I don't think I will ever stop, or retire. This is my life, it's hard to explain, but it's something I just have to do.”
By getting back to his roots Nolan took a personal journey through his own family history. Stories from the past came out, accompanied by family photos, some of which have made it onto the album and single covers. They feature his grandfather, a resilient mentor, prominently. And so, Nolan realized the value in those physical connections with family. The links that form when performing on a stage. And he relished the joy of putting a record on the player and reading the liner notes and lyrics.
As for where Scrapper will take Nolan, he’s already booking regional outdoor shows as the restrictions lift, and is looking forward to getting back in the live ring, touring songs not just from Scrapper, but also his album Drifters, released in the early days of the 2020 lockdowns. It was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award 2021, and lauded by music magazine Exclaim! for “His blend of roots and folk [that] is refreshingly un-jaded and full-bodied” in their 9/10 review, and other publications including Folk Radio UK and Americana Highways.
Nolan continues to prove on this next offering that he truly is an undeniable artist, dynamic performer, and virtuosic talent that can not be ignored.
As the album Scrapper closes, the final song fades away, and you’ll hear the faint voice of a woman whispering, “I miss you, when are you coming home?”
For Joe Nolan, whose home is on a stage performing for you, the answer lies in the name of the song. It’s called “See You Soon.
Here's To Hoping
Start The Car
Stand up for Your Love
Sweet Lil' Blues
Where Do I Go From Here
Stony Plain Records announced an October 22 release date for Pinky’s Blues, the new album from award-winning blues guitarist-singer Sue Foley. Featuring several of Sue Foley originals, as well as songs from some of her favourite blues and roots artists, Pinky’s Blues was recorded at Fire Station Studios in San Marcos, Texas. Joining Sue Foley (guitar, vocals) for the recording sessions were Jon Penner (bass), Chris “Whipper” Layton (drums) and Mike Flanigin (Hammond B3 organ), who also produced the album. The legendary Jimmie Vaughan joins in as a special guest on rhythm guitar for the track, “Hurricane Girl.”
Pinky’s Blues is the follow up to Sue Foley’s award-winning breakout album, The Ice Queen, released in 2018. Foley’s new album is a raw, electric guitar driven romp through the backroads of Texas blues, with Foley’s signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster, “Pinky,” at the wheel. She won “Best Traditional Female (Koko Taylor Award)” at the 2020 Blues Music Awards in Memphis, was nominated for a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy), and she took home the award for “Best Guitar Player” at the Toronto Maple Blues Awards. For the last few years Foley and her band have kept a rigorous touring schedule across the USA, Canada and Europe. Some highlights were appearances at The Beacon Theater (NYC), guesting with Jimmie Vaughan (opening for Eric Clapton) at Royal Albert Hall in London, Montreal Jazz Festival, Ottawa Bluesfest (w/ Buddy Guy), Moulin Blues (Holland), NPR’s Mountain Stage (with Bela Fleck), Doheny Blues Festival, and the Jungle Show in Austin, Texas.
Foley and producer Mike Flanigin decided to make the album in the middle of the COVID lockdown in 2020.
"Mike, drummer Chris Layton and I had just finished making Mike's album, West Texas Blues, and we needed another challenge to keep us busy," Foley says. "And because we'd been hanging out together we were comfortable in each other's presence, and this would be a very low-key closed session. I brought in Jon Penner to play bass, who was my first bass player and had been on all my early records. So just the four of us along with engineer Chris Bell went into the studio and recorded the entire album in three days. What you're hearing is live, off the floor, in the moment the music was played totally spontaneously and, mainly, improvised. And, we wanted to make something representative of the Texas blues that we had been schooled on in Austin. So, we picked great songs and I wrote a few of my own to round things out. Everything on it is a labour of love.”
Stop These Teardrops
The Lucky Ones * Sue Foley with Jimmie Vaughan
Taken By Storm Records is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Briar Summers' debut album, From The Ashes.
Her debut album, From The Ashes, is out now. Produced and mixed by three- time Grammy Award-winning producer David Bottrill (Tool, Rush, Peter Gabriel), Briar is joined by a cast of superb Canadian talent that includes Ben Riley (drums), Chris Stringer (guitars), Drew Jurecka (violin), Daniel Dennis (cello), Jamie Bestwick (bass), Logan Coey (drums), Jason Logue (trumpet), Dylan Teakle (beats).
Briar and her producer joined us to discuss the album in May 2021 before the album was released.
From The Ashes was released on compact disc and all digital platforms October 8th. (It will be available on vinyl in early 2022.)
Her first single “Stronger,” released earlier this year, has seen significant airplay on local and campus radio, in addition to a spin or two on CBC.
The fact that she’s only 17 has not kept her from headlining local festivals such as Muskoka Pride and Muskoka Vegfest, or from sharing the stage with renowned artists like Jim Cuddy, Julian Taylor, Miranda Mulholland, Kandle Osborne, Sarah Slean and Hawksley Workman, or from receiving such honours as the Bill Waterhouse Award from the Town of Huntsville and Governor General’s Academic Medal from her high school.
From the Ashes
How to Fly
Del Barber has what surely must be considered a quintessential Canadian voice – natural, pure and tender. His songs are sparked with imagery that only a person deeply connected to a vast open space could conjure. With his new release, ‘Stray Dogs’, a collection of so-called unfinished demos, Barber takes us even deeper into his chosen art form. There is not one song out of place and every one hits the mark.
Often referred to as Canada’s John Prine, Barber’s songs do have characters and misadventures, but there can really be no comparison. Barber is a distinctive artist, weaving his tales in an approach both vocally and musically that is entirely his own. Presented through a veil of pedal steel and lush guitars, Barber’s beautiful singing floats inside these tunes like a call from a dear distant friend, as fresh as the dew, glittering over a field in a bright summer sunrise.
Following up on his 2020 Juno-nominated album, Easy Keeper, Stray Dogs has a touch of something for every taste. More importantly, Barber lets you in, invites you to spend time with a maturing songwriter, continuing to hone his song craft. Polished to a fine gloss, they reflect back all that he has learned, felt and seen and they shine. Although subtly titled ‘B Sides’, every song is an A plus to my ears. Nothing exemplifies this more than the closing tune, ‘Just A Little Heat’, which plies all the characteristics of a Del Barber classic – understated, plaintive, and direct. Comforting and soothing in its cloak of simple mandolin and guitar, Del holds you close through the storm and points to where the sun peaks through a far horizon, clouded with weather. All things must pass and we know it. We are so lucky to have Del Barber singing by our side as we journey onward. -DMc
Ronnie and Rose
Friends Like Us
Love & Wine
Coming Home With the Summer
Just A Little Heat
Ron Sexsmith has long been considered one of Canada’s pre-eminent songwriters and performers. With a career spanning close to four decades, Sexsmith has received well-earned praise for his superlative songs for their stylistic purity and emotional depth. He has recorded fifteen albums and joined Backstage to discuss his latest album, Hermitage released in the spring of 2020.
A gifted singer and songwriter whose songs are by turns earnest and playful, Ron Sexsmith has won acclaim not only from critics but from fellow performers like Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, and John Hiatt -- some of the same artists who initially inspired Sexsmith himself to become a musician. He has a talent for catchy but graceful melodies that's matched by his skills as a lyricist, drawing compact sketches of love and the trials of everyday life that are heartfelt and compassionate even when he's being witty, and warm without becoming overly sentimental. Sexsmith's songs are fine examples of pop classicism, while his work as a recording artist has found him maturing steadily throughout his career.
Think of You Fondly
Glow in the Dark Stars
There's a Rhythm
Durham County Poets
One of the most infectious and surprising uplifting bands on the Canadian Blues scene, Durham County Poets joins Douglas McLean to talk about their upcoming tour and their JUNO nomination for Blues Album of the Year, for their album ‘Hand Me Down Blues’.
Durham County Poets grew out of the lively music scene in Ormstown, QC, once called Durham. The five seasoned musicians, all of whom are also songwriters, work together individually and collaboratively in composing their music. Delving into a variety of styles and genres, their musical influences include a broad range, woven together to create their own authentic style.
They have released 4 indie albums in 10 years with their latest-almost-all-blues effort receiving a JUNO nomination, followed by 2 Maple Blues nominations and a Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination for Kevin. In fact, the band was all set to travel to Saskatoon in March 2020 to participate in JUNO Festival week (and back up Dawn Tyler Watson), when the awards were cancelled, and a new reality kicked in: being virtual. This the band embraced, their first ‘online gig’ seen by thousands, courtesy of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.
The obvious joie-de-vivre they express in performance is reflected in the good-time feel the band creates, captivating audiences consistently with their tight grooves and seemingly effortless performances, laced with Kevin’s own funny observations of life. As Nate Dow from the Fallout Shelter in Massachusetts said “Lead singer Kevin Harvey and his band are sonic shape shifters of the first order. Whether it’s blues, folk, soul, country, gospel, or New Orleans swing, they purvey it with skill, aplomb and pure honesty.”
Touring to date has taken them to the Ottawa Blues, Rochester Jazz, Montreal Folk, Deep Roots Nova Scotia Festivals, and Wintergrass Seattle, Port-Credit’s Southside Shuffle and the Pop-up ‘Superfolk’ in Morin Heights QC.
Hand Me Down Blues
The Great Divide
I've Been Living with the Blues
Evil in the Heart.
With a Little Help from My Friends
The Hello Darlins
Douglas McLean chats with The Hello Darlins for his latest Sound Cafe Podcast.
With the release of their debut album, Go By Feel, in June 2021, the Hello Darlins from Calgary, Alberta, confirmed the promise that their initial 2020 single releases indicated. Steeped in a the rich tradition of Americana Folk Roots musicality and song writing, the Hello Darlins have become an overnight sensation on major streaming platforms and digital airwaves.
The writing producing team of vocalist/producer, Candace Lacina and keyboardist/producer, Mike Little, join host Douglas McLean, to share highlights in the creation of one of the most exciting album releases of 2021. The magic and thrilling performances of this duo have fashioned an instant classic, rich in songs of the highest caliber, destined to be listener favourite for years to come.
Behind The Drive
Catch That Train
Aberdeen (feat. Joey Landreth)
Lonely in Las Vegas
Never Get over You
Still Waters (feat. Matt Andersen)
Go by Feel
The Weber Brothers
Over the past 16 years they’ve recorded 12 independent albums and toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Ryan and Sam Weber left their Baltimore, MD home one night as teenagers, with the aim of meeting their idol, rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, and ten hours later showed up at his doorstep. “The Hawk”, the elder statesman of rock whose former protégés (Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson) went on to reshape music history as “The Band”, was duly impressed by the pair’s immense raw talent, and promptly invited them to audition for his storied backing band, The Hawks. Mere months later, after surviving the intense musical apprenticeship of his fabled “Rock ‘n’ Roll Boot-camp,” they were in: full-blooded Hawks. By the ages of 18 and 21 they had already performed alongside Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Jeff Healey and the Tragically Hip to name a few.
To many, The Weber Brothers are the baddest band in the land. To many others, their story sits like an ancient volume in an old bookstore, dust covered, tucked away behind hundreds of newer, shinier books. Untouched. Waiting to be discovered. Regardless of what side you’re on, there’s an undeniable truth. In the rough and tumble world of rock and roll, The Weber Brothers have been around the block.
‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ marks the brothers 13th full length release, and is a reunion of sorts with Baltimore MD based musician/producer extraordinaire Timothy Bracken, who just so happens to have ridden the same bus to elementary school as The Weber Brothers, in their shared hometown of Westminster, MD. The trio of Ryan, Sam, and Tim has been making music together for 30 years, and with Bracken’s masterfully adept hand wielding the mixing, mastering, and production duties, ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ fires on all cylinders and leaps from the speakers, offering the listener an exciting and compelling hour-long thrill ride.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Toys In The Junkyard
We Were Let Down
God Help Us
Mike Goudreau presents his 21st independent release “The Isolation Blues”, a collection of 14 brand new original songs. This production was recorded remotely, with long time collaborators and cronies during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, between September 2020 and February 2021.
Mike wrote and recorded the songs from his home studio. He sings, plays guitar and bass on this adventure. Tried and true musical partner Dany Roy wrote the horn arrangements and recorded all the sax and trumpet parts from his home studio in Montreal. For his part, Jean-François Bégin, who has been with the band for 11 years, recorded and played drums and percussion from his home studio in Sherbrooke.
Other guests include harmonica player extraordinaire Pascal “Per” Veillette on three songs, and Vermont keyboardist Ira Friedman on Hammond Organ and piano, also for three tracks.
This is an eclectic mix of straight-ahead Chicago, Delta and Texas style Blues, Soul, Southern Rock, Swamp Blues, Rock ’n’ Roll, and Goudreau’ signature, the album opener, a Swinging Jump Blues, will get your fingers snapping and toes tapping on the first downbeat!
Despite being recorded remotely, the album sounds like it was recorded live off the studio floor and stands up to previously recorded world-class albums that Mike has gotten us used to.
Mike’s influences for this album include the likes of Louis Jordan, Albert & B.B. King, CCR, J.J. Cale, The Allman Brothers, Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughn, to name some of the best!
Since 2007, Goudreau’s songs have continued to be featured in dozens of Hollywood films and network TV shows, and 2019-2020 was no exception with his original songs placed in films like The Banker (with Samuel Jackson, 2020), the feature film Dark Waters (2019), the CBS TV show Dynasty (2020), and the Christmas TV movie The Happiest Season (Hulu 2020), to name only a few.
You can get Mike Goudreau’s new album through cdbaby.com or mikegoudreau.com. It is also available on ITunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify and most popular streaming and downloading platforms.
Let's Go Down To The River
Hear My Prayer
Half Day from Home
Since My Baby Left Me
My Only Lady
Murray McLauchlan’s new album, HOURGLASS, released July 09,2021, finds the poet and legendary songwriter, contemplative and sincere in his attempt to reflect within himself, on current concerns and social issues facing people of all walks of life. Drawn from front news pages, McLauchlan portrays his own deep awakening to the plight of others crushed by systemic racism, privilege and economic disparity.
His newest album, released through his long term partnership with True North Record, is testament to his artistic integrity. He uses all of his skill as a songwriter to share with his audience his views and thoughts on situations that are, at best, untenable, outrageous and an affront to human decency. “Change will and must come “ and as a songwriter and public figure, McLauchlan feels honour bound to speak up and speak out.
I Live On A White Cloud
The One Percent
Run Away To Sea
A Thomson Day (For Tom Thomson)
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