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Backstage with Douglas McLeanSocial shar

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.

Can't Find The Interview You Are Looking For? Listen To More Interviews From Our Vaults HERE

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Chuck Jackson of The Legendary Downchild Blues Band


I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Chuck Jackson May 09th, 2023 about this summer’s tour and a special show at Massey Hall May 13, 2023.


Downchild is of course the inspiration for Hollywood stars Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s hit film The Blues Brothers. In fact, two Downchild songs “I Got Everything I Need (Almost)” and “Shotgun Blues” are found on The Blues Brothers smash album Briefcase Full of Blues.


The inaugural Erin McCallum Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction Award was presented to Chuck Jackson, just recently, Chuck is a musician, also the founder and Artistic Director of the Tim Horton's Southside Shuffle in Port Credit, Ontario. (Look out for more updates on this amazing initiative here and also on the dedicated website page at Blues and Roots Radio (our sister platform), who are also based in Port Credit, Ontario.)

It was just announced that, leader and co-founder, Donnie Walsh, often called the 'Father of Canadian Blues', will be inducted into the Kitchener Blues Festival Hall of Fame on August 11, 2023 and receive the Mel Brown Award to join past recipients, Buddy Guy, Holger Petersen and David Wilcox. Donnie is a member of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, alongside some of the greatest songwriters of our time, like Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.


The Legendary Downchild Blues Band is a Canadian blues institution with an international reputation. They have shared the stage with American blues icons B.B. King (at Massey Hall), Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker to name a few and have performed around the world, leaving fans thoroughly entertained wherever the go.

It’s tempting and not altogether far-fetched to apply an engine metaphor to the mighty Downchild, one of the planet’s foremost, most fêted, longest-running blues outfits with quite possibly the best back story ever told.


Roaring through bracing, high-octane performances since 1969, the band founded and continuously steered by harmonica and guitar ace Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh is as vibrant today as when Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi went sniffing around for inspiration for their brilliant Blues Brothers venture back in the 1970s. The pair elevated Downchild’s “Shotgun Blues” and Walsh’s “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” to smash status on their 1978 Briefcase Full of Blues record.


Actually, the 2017 iteration of Downchild — with each member boasting a minimum of 20 years of service — might be the most electrifying yet. For proof, simply check out the sextet’s towering, lid-lifting, juke-joint–jumping 18th studio album, Something I’ve Done, a bona fide group effort and a sonic highlight in a 50-year career spilling over with them.


Internal combustion certainly describes scorchers like the swaggering, harp-goosed “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man,” the thundering piano-pummelled title track, and opener “Albany, Albany” which contrasts a singalong chorus with sharp melody forwarded by Pat Carey’s marvellously skronking sax.


Indeed, if Downchild didn’t exist, the blues world would have to invent them. Who else could so clearly serve as contemporary torchbearers for riveting original music firmly rooted in tradition while acting as a thriving spiritual link to past greats like Sonny Boy Williamson II, James Cotton, and B.B. King?


But don’t take our word for it. Downchild’s epic reputation has been reaffirmed time and again.


Witness their 2014 Blues Album of the Year Juno Award for their last studio effort, Can You Hear The Music — their second Juno win overall. Their boatload of Maple Blues Awards. Their marquee billing on the globe’s most prestigious stages. And, of course, their inimitable 1973 reading of Big Joe Turner’s classic “Flip, Flop and Fly” which placed Walsh and band co-founder, late brother Richard “Hock” Walsh on the charts and in the souls of music fans worldwide.


“I was pretty lucky to get a hit record just a few years after starting the band,” Walsh confirms. “After that, the rest is geography. You just get in the van and go, and that’s what we did. For the longest time, we played 250 to 300 dates a year.”


Musical careers don’t rev higher than that. But how does Downchild keep the creative process fresh, preventing itself from becoming an oldies machine? Band-wide songwriting input, that’s how.


“The fact that a bunch of guys in the band have been writing songs means this album has a different flavour to it,” says Walsh, previously the principal songwriter on Downchild records. “We are really looking forward to playing these songs live.”


“It’s a challenge to go into the studio and come up with new tunes but it’s a fun challenge,” Downchild singer Chuck Jackson adds. “And it’s really fun for us to play new songs when we go on tour. We will always play the staples but doing the new tunes keeps us fresh. We’re not a jukebox.”


Something I’ve Done is a truly collaborative effort, with Walsh writing the brisk instrumental “Evelyn,” Jackson penning “Albany, Albany” and the cheeky “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man,” bassist Gary Kendall chipping in “Mailbox Money” and “Take A Piece of My Heart,” keyboardist Michael Fonfara bringing “Something I’ve Done” and “Can’t Get Mad at You,” and drummer Mike Fitzpatrick offering “Into the Fire.”


Rounding out the album’s stellar 10-track roster is “Worried About The World” by noted B.C.-based bluesman David Vest and “She Thinks I Do” by onetime Downchild member, late singer John Witmer, a song that had essentially been mothballed until now.


“Quite a story with that song,” Walsh allows of Witmer’s rollicking but wryly mournful tune. “It’s never been part of our live set, we never recorded it and John passed away a long time ago (in 2004). I don’t think we played it even when John was alive. But it’s kind of a tribute to him.”


While the writing behind Something I’ve Done marks a new way of working for Downchild, the album’s recording found the band sticking with the tried and true. The six assembled at Toronto’s Loud Mouse studio with award-winning engineer L. Stu Young who also assisted on Downchild’s Can You Hear The Music and who has a history with the band dating back to the mid-1990s. (Other Young credits include Prince, Triumph, Alan Doyle, David Wilcox, Great Big Sea, The Guess Who, and Prairie Oyster).


“Since we made the last record, they have acquired a baby grand piano, so this time we were able to do the whole record there,” bassist Kendall says of Loud Mouse. “The studio has three different rooms separated by the control room, so we could all have visual contact. It helps if you can look at someone while you’re playing, as well as hearing them. And L. Stu Young has great ears.”


Says Jackson, “On the new album, you will see various songwriting credits but it is very much a collaboration with everybody adding their two cents.”


“I think we are keeping a tradition alive, whereas a lot of newer bands are leaning more to blues-rock,” Kendall notes. “This is not blues rock. It’s jump blues. We are trying to move the form forward, writing songs that relate to today, but we have a line we don’t cross.”


“And we all know each other so well that things tend to come easy,” Walsh offers, namechecking Kendall’s “Mailbox Money” as an example of a song that hit the sweet spot in the studio. “Over the years, there have been many different players in Downchild, but now we’ve stuck with the same guys as everyone gets along personally as well as musically. That comes off in the live performances, too.”


Now that the new album is done, Downchild is ready to do what it does best: perform, taking blues on the road to fans old and new from Nanaimo, B.C. to Norway and back again. “We really hope people get a chance to hear this record,” Jackson says. “It would be great to win another Juno but it’s not really about awards. We are all still very hungry to make this music, no doubt about it. We love what we do.


“These days with Downchild, we have people coming to see us who have been following us for 40 years and they bring out their children who now bring out their children,” Jackson howls. “We hope this music can generate interest in younger people and keep the blues alive.”


Can You Hear the Music (Live)

Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man (Live) [feat. Erja Lyytinen]

Hog Wild


Bryan Bassett of Foghat

“Slow Ride”, “Fool for the City”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, “Third Time Lucky” “Drivin’ Wheel”, “Stone Blue”, “Honey Hush”, “Home in My Hand”, “Road Fever” and “Terraplane Blues”.


It’s been over 50 years since anyone had to ask: What’s a Foghat? The reason no one asks anymore is obvious. Foghat is a band. In 2023, Foghat turned 52 years old. In November of this year, they will release a new album entitled 'Sonic Mojo'. They are still out on the road, traveling across the land and bringing their infectious boogie to packed houses full of adoring fans nearly every night. A Foghat concert is every bit as much fun and intense in 2023 as it was in 1977 when their classic multi-platinum album, 'Foghat Live' broke them around the world. Looking back, it’s only fitting that it was a live album that made Foghat a household name. The band wouldn’t have it any other way.


Foghat continues to appeal to fans of all ages because their music is timeless. They play with an energy that perpetuates youthful exuberance, no matter how old they may be. This band loves to play music. This band lives to play music. Those in the audience, whether they discovered Foghat in the video game Guitar Hero III, from the movie Dazed & Confused, or they discovered them when they purchased their 1972 debut album, knows they are the real deal. That’s why a Foghat audience is so diverse, yet unified. Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers and Millennials and on down all come together with a single purpose when the band comes to town. They wanna boogie…and boogie they do!


For Foghat fans, the announcement that a new album titled Sonic Mojo will be released November 10 is no surprise. They’ve learned to expect new releases from this band. Sonic Mojo will be met with the same enthusiasm and excitement as their other recent releases which include 2010’s Last Train Home, 2016’s Under the Influence, 2017’s Live at the Belly Up and 2021’s 8 Days on the Road, which was recorded live at Daryl’s House Club in Pawling, NY. These releases join a long history of great music put out by the band.


Foghat began back in 1971 when Lonesome Dave Peverett and Roger Earl decided to leave Savoy Brown and start a band of their own. History has proven that this was a great decision. Over the years, Foghat has earned eight Gold Records, one Platinum Record and one Double-Platinum record. As with any band that survives for over five decades, there have been ups and downs, and tragedies and triumphs. Through it all, they moved ahead in one form or another for only one reason, The Music. For Foghat, it’s all about the music, always has been and always will be.


Sadly, the band has lost three beloved members over the years. Founding member, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Lonesome Dave passed away in 2000. In 2005, slide guitarist extraordinaire Rod Price left us and then, in 2018, the band lost long time bassist Craig MacGregor. Through all the losses, founding member and drummer, Roger Earl, kept the music, and the band, moving forward.


Now, in 2023, Foghat consists of Roger Earl pounding the skins, long time member Bryan Bassett (Molly Hatchet, Wild Cherry) on lead/slide guitar, bassist Rodney O’Quinn (Pat Travers Band) on bass. The newest member of Foghat who has played with Foghat side project Earl & The Agitators for 8 years, is vocalist and guitarist Scott Holt (Buddy Guy).


These four members remain true to the original spirit of Foghat. They play in reverence to those that have gone on. They understand that Foghat exists solely to share the music they create with anyone who wants to hear it. They deliver each and every night, with giant smiles on their faces, for they are doing the same thing that every one of their fans is doing: Enjoying another Foghat Show.


If Foghat had been a one hit wonder and only had success with the song “Slow Ride” they’d still have a well-deserved place in rock ‘n’ roll history. Thankfully, however, Foghat has been so much more than that. Rest assured, this band will truly roll ‘til they're old and rock ‘til they drop. Roger Earl has been at this for 52 years and has no plan of stopping now.


Slow Ride (Single Version)

Drivin' Wheel (Live)


Séan McCann

2023 marks the XXX anniversary of one of Canada’s favourite bands and Séan will be celebrating the legend with fans across the country. Armed only with his voice, bodhrán (Celtic hand drum), and guitar, the Shantyman will lead us all in a Great Big Singalong as we sail back in time to the brighter bays of his native Newfoundland. Filled with foot stomping favourites and hilarious stories of life on the road, this is the only “tribute” show you need to see this decade and a nostalgic tip of the hat to the legacy of a truly iconic Canadian band.


“I never left the band but I had to get off the road because I was an addict. It’s taken a long time to be comfortable walking through those wild years again without getting triggered, but, I’ve been completely sober for 11 years now and my recovery has made me much stronger. I’m always careful, but I’m not fearful anymore.”


Sean says of the show, “30 years and a dozen albums equal a lot of songs to choose from. Whittling the set list down to just 20 songs was proving to be a challenge so I tasked my teenage sons with listening to some classic Great Big Sea over the holidays. I was very encouraged to learn that a lot of the old favourites were still “bangers”! The kids are alright…


Music is strong medicine and a song is never more powerful than when it is sung together with friends. I felt the end of our pandemic induced social isolation would have been met with a global celebration of peace and love but people are more bitterly divided now than ever. I sincerely believe singing together can help mend this wounded world.”

Séan McCann (the Shantyman) is a founder of the iconic Canadian folk rock band, Great Big Sea, and an Order of Canada recipient for his recovery advocacy. A survivor of sexual abuse and subsequent addiction, Séan has spent the last ten years touring North America as a solo concert performer and musical keynote speaker, singing and sharing his story with theatre audiences, front line workers, teachers, students, patients, inmates, veterans, and anyone who struggles with their mental health.


Séan believes that music is strong medicine and a song is never more powerful than when it is sung with a friend. 2023 marks the XXX anniversary of one of Canada’s favourite bands and Séan will be celebrating the legend with fans across the country.


Run Runaway

Go To Sea No More

Help Your Self



The Shantyman continues the Great Big Singalong as he tours throughout late summer and the fall.

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Christina Hutt

Christina Hutt’s new EP, ‘Beyond the Knowing”, released May of 2023, continues the allure of her initial Ep ‘Mirror Mirror’ and reacquaints audience’s with this powerful singer songwriter, as she maps a course toward her rightful musical destination.  


Christina can fill a room with her rich, resonant, out-of-this era voice and move

you with her honest, charismatic delivery.  Once described as a full-bodied glass of red

wine, her sound is reminiscent of the soul-stirring vocals you would have heard flowing from

a transistor radio in the late 50’s.  You will understand why Hutt has been dubbed “the

voice” in her home region of Muskoka, Ontario.  She welcomes you into the secrets of her

heart with fierce passion and endearing spirit. Christina’s ease in a diversity of genres

brings a captivating quality to her performances. The lyrics in her song “Cracks & Crevices”

take you deep into the chilling darkness of emotional anguish while her tune “Fifteen

Shades” makes you feel like you just might be at a Patsy Cline Tribute Show.

Hutt’s original song “I Should Have Changed” was just placed in the top 10 female songs of 2022 in the Blues & Roots Radio International Song Contest. This small town country girl is currently writing and recording new music with Canadian Music Hall Of Fame inductee, multi-instrumentalist, producer, Jeff Bird of the legendary Cowboy Junkies as well as singer/songwriter producer, Sue Smith.

Christina resides in Kearney, Ontario not far from her hometown, Sprucedale. She was drawn to music at the age of five when her parents bought her a wireless microphone and a Tina Turner album. She continues to be influenced by many artists, recognizing the soul in Etta James, Patsy Cline’s art of delivering a song, the poetry of Leonard Cohen, the warmth of Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the camaraderie of The Cowboy Junkies, to mention a few.


Six years ago, Christina began pursuing her dream to sing and perform music full time. Wholly determined, she launched herself out of her comfort zone on a mission to improve her chops and gain experience. Christina is now well known throughout Central Ontario for her passionate singing and her unique and resonant voice.


In the past several years Christina has performed on the VIA RAIL coast to coast train across Canada; released an EP; recorded backup vocals for Kerrville Folk Award winner Jon Brooks; and performed with Juno Award winner Blues artist Paul Reddick. Hutt has also worked with and been mentored by Juno award winner Blues singer, Rita Chiarelli, and one of Canada’s finest folk artists, Katherine Wheatley. Christina has opened for Canadian Country singers, Tim Hicks and Tyler Joe Miller as well as Juno Award winner Blues artist Paul James and Canadian Folk Singer Craig Cardiff.


Fifteen Shades

You keep On Coming Back

A Rookie In A Veterans Chair.

Wild Woman

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Big Little Lions

On June 9th, Big Little Lions released their first concept album (and seventh album) AMPM via Fallen Tree Records. The trans-continental folk-pop duo enlightens us from morning to night on the new album. Tackling anxiety and self-hate, the grind of daily life, the perils of parenting, and the value of community and forgiveness. The JUNO-winning collaborators once again charm with their intimate, clever, and relatable lyrics, paired with the melodic lilt of indie rock and pop.


Helen and Paul met at a conference for licensing music for TV and film, one is classically trained, the other self-taught and they create their music together from thousands of miles apart. Heavily influence by the likes of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Police, Big Little Lions are masters of a catchy melody, great harmonies, and a cool turn of phrase.


They’ve been nominated and won many awards since their inception:

Nominated Canadian Folk Music Awards - Vocal Group of The Year 2020,

Nominated Roots Group of the Year - Break Out West 2018,

Canadian Songwriting Competition Folk Winner 2018,

Nominated for 2 Western Canadian Music Awards 2017,

Canadian Folk Music Awards - nominated Vocal Group and Contemporary Album 2016,

Canadian Folk Music Awards - Ensemble of the Year 2015,

Initial Collaboration under Helen Austin - JUNO Award Winner 2014,

John Lennon Songwriting Competition - Grand Prize, Lennon Award and Song of the Year 2013,

International Songwriting Competition/Unsigned Only - 2013/2014/2017/2018/2020.


The folk-pop duo Big Little Lions are Canadian Helen Austin (Royston, BC) and American Paul Otten (Springboro, Ohio). Their sound fuses the melodic sense of indie rock and pop with the intimate, heartfelt lyrics of acoustic folk and singer-songwriters. They were born out of a collaboration that won them a JUNO Award and a John Lennon songwriting prize in 2014, and have gone on to win a Canadian Folk Music Award, from their six nominations.


Licensed for use in numerous commercials, films, and TV shows, their music is jam-packed with emotion and tight harmonies – the sound of two people working happily side-by-side, for the enjoyment of fans from Brazil to the Philippines.


Choose Forward


It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Oh It’s You Again

Nearly Human

Why Won’t My Brain Stop

All Done Up

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Zoe Ackah

"This album is about how we view our past," shares Zoe. "I dedicated it to my grandmothers to pay homage to my own Southern roots. Every song has a story to tell - literally. "I Miss You (But My Aim is Getting Better)" started with a collection of horrible jokes my mother found in my grandfather's personal effects after he passed away. "Just a Trickle, Just a Nickel" is a reflection of my own experiences with homelessness and a recent experience with a mentally ill friend who disappeared into the streets. "What’s a Little Fire?" is about me burning down the cabin in the woods I lived in as a child. But just as they did in my grandmothers’ time, I talk about many heavy subjects with the tenderness and lightheartedness still expected of women."


Zoe Ackah is a genre defying and imaginative singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Toronto, Canada.


Known on the Toronto scene as a singing drummer and studio backup vocalist,

Ackah is now forging a solo path with fierce determination and a trunk full of creative

ideas. In late 2020, she released her debut album, The World Inside, and has now

released a second full-length, This Hen, a record steeped in classic country. “I wrote This Hen for my mother and grandmothers, true ladies of the South,” Zoe explains.


This Hen’s first song Gotta Stop Loving You (But I Can’t) is a catchy Country ditty. With its 70s harmonies and weeping guitar, it is as hopeful as it is resigned to love’s futility. “Initially written about one guy, I realized I was actually writing about the same emotionally unavailable guy I keep dating, over and over again.”


The album’s title track This Hen (Is Starting to Hate Men) is sure to draw the ire of the world’s roosters, Sung from the perspective of a chicken, this song is an interrogation of the patriarchy. A banger of a tune, with all the cluckin’ and pluckin’ you’d imagine from a song made inside the barnyard that is a mother’s daily life.

The A-list of Toronto musicians featured on This Hen includes Kevin Breit, Ian de

Souza, Rebecca Hennessy, Davide Di Renzo, and a duet with John Borra. Their presence confirms the peer respect Ackah enjoys.


Zoe’s work resists any attempt at genre pigeonholing. Stylistic eclecticism is rooted

deep in her musical soul and her unique and agile voice has many faces. “I have been in every type of singing situation you can imagine, and that has given me the flexibility to follow my imagination,” she explains.


While studying for a Master’s Degree at York University focusing on choral conducting

and classical composition, Zoe also sang her heart out. “I basically sang in every choir

in the school – chamber choir, concert choir, women’s choir,” she recalls. “Music was

my solace then, in one of the most intense times of my life, as a single mother raising

three kids, two of whom were diagnosed with autism.”


Her family situation precluded recording or performing, and meant that, in her words,

“for 11 years, I could only sing the songs I’d written into the kitchen sink!” This period

reinforced the importance of music in Ackah’s life, however, and helps explain her prolific musical output. 


Prior to academic study and maternity, Zoe paid extensive dues on the Toronto scene,

working as a drummer and vocalist in bands ranging from noted all-female reggae

combos Women Ah Run Tings (Zoe was a co-founder) and The Sweet Sensation Band

to African bands. Her first collaborations in recent years was a power duo with reggae great Carl Harvey (Toots and The Maytals). She is a musician with a great breadth of knowledge and abundant musical chops.


Zoe’s focus is already directed to newer songs and recordings. “I have a fire,” she

declares. “My goal is to record 50 songs and put out three or four more records in the

next five or six years. Once I’ve made a record I don’t look back. My real joy in life is

creating songs and making a recording of them, and I now have a massive backlog.”




Gotta Stop Loving You (But I Can't)

Just a Trickle, Just a Nickel

What's a Little Fire?

 I Wanna Be Your Fool

This Hen (Is Starting to Hate Men)

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Sara Shiloh Rae

Creating a truly unique, original sound and a new musical vocabulary is a lofty goal for most bands. With their second album, The Sondheim Project, Sara Shiloh Rae & Bluebird Junction have done just that and more.


This is Stephen Sondheim as he has never been heard before. With five truly original arrangements of classics like “Send in the Clowns” and “Ladies who Lunch” the pandemic-formed band has roared its way into the classical, jazz, americana and world music scene with a sound that is fresh, sophisticated and entirely their own.


The idea of arranging the music of Sondheim for an americana-bluegrass-informed stringband is the brainchild of Ms. Rae and her partner, banjo player Max Hoetzel.


“Our idea was to take the quintessential American quality that is Sondheim — the wit, the neurosis, the warmth, and sophistication — and marry it to the other quintessential American art forms, which are bluegrass and americana.” said Hoetzel, who also produced the album.

A fearless interpreter in the contemporary classical music world, Sara Shiloh Rae (Sara Hershkowitz) has been celebrated for her interpretations of Ligeti, Luigi Nono, and John Cage with orchestras such as the BBC Scottish Symphony, the L.A. Philharmonic, and the Bergen Symphony.


It is a rare feat for a singer hailing from the classical world to have the colour palette, Ms. Rae has at her disposal. In these five Sondheim arrangements, she infuses aching vulnerability into a considerable vocal prowess, tinged with melancholy, joy, and dry wit. There is a beauty and warmth to her voice that is singular.


The arrangements by Myles Sloniker are transparent and sophisticated; the colours of the string band in fascinating juxtaposition to the song’s musical origins on Broadway. The EP features some of the hottest musical stars of the contemporary bluegrass scene: Alex Hargreaves on fiddle (currently on tour with Billy Strings) Mike Robinson on guitar (Sarah Jarosz) Jacob Jolliff on mandolin (Jacob Joli Band), Molly Aronson on cello, Myles Sloniker on bass and Max Hoetzel on banjo.


This five-track EP breathes new life into these beloved classics and gives a whole new perspective on some of Sondheim’s most brilliant songs.



“Ladies who Lunch” is Stephen Sondheim’s epic anthem of angry, drunken snark. Sara Shiloh Rae and her outstanding band, the bluegrass-inspired Bluebird Junction, give this Broadway classic a gorgeous banjo-and-fiddle laced treatment that is fresh, surprising and full of wit.


“Send in the Clowns”is Stephen Sondheim’s most well-known song. Sara Shiloh Rae & Bluebird Junction’s interpretation is a heartbreakingly fragile read on the Sondheim classic, weaving threads of chamber music, folk, and bluegrass into a whole tapestry of sound.

With “The Miller’s Son” from Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” Sara Shiloh Rae & Bluebird Junction are pushing far into the bluegrass vernacular with a hoedown fiddle and banjo section that dares push the boundaries. Sara’s powerful vocals touch on a wide palette of colours and give a whole new perspective on this song.


“Sooner or Later” written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1990 film “Dick Tracey’s” character Breathless Mahoney was originally sung by Madonna. With a brilliant, fresh arrangement by Myles Sloniker, Bluebird Junction has taken a musical approach far from the big-band sound of the film, focusing instead on a sultry, intimate and sophisticated sound.


“Broadway Baby” is what happens when Broadway meets country. With a swinging, old-time country feel, Sara Shiloh Rae & Bluebird Junction bring easy charm and sweetness to the Sondheim classic.


Sara ShilohRae: Vocals Max Hoetzel: Banjo

Mike Robinson: Acoustic Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar Myles Sloniker: Bass

Alex Hargreaves: Fiddle Jacob Jolliff: Mandolin Molly Aronson: Cello


Arrangements by Myles Sloniker Tracking: Mike Robinson Hoetzel

Mixed by Joel Jacks at Joel Jacks Studios in Santa Ynez Produced by Max Hoetzel




Ladies Who Lunch

Broadway Baby

Send In the Clowns

Millers Son

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Marc Jordan

A songwriter’s songwriter, Marc Jordan is best known for writing (along with John Capek) “Rhythm of My Heart,” the 1991 smash hit for Rod Stewart. Marc’s songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Cher, Chicago, Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, Kenny Loggins, Kim Carnes and the Manhattan Transfer, to name a few.


Waiting for the Sun to Rise sees Jordan turning his gaze outward, writing from a place of weathered wisdom. “Rio Grande,” is the album’s centerpiece, and is a hymn to what’s left of the world, squandered potential and abiding hope live side by side, and a soaring solo by Grammy-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker tops off producer Lou Pomanti’s arrangement.


The stunning “Coltrane Plays the Blues” continues Jordan’s penchant for mid-century jazz references. Like his thematic cousin Paul Buchanan of the Blue Nile (whose “The Downtown Lights” is covered here), Jordan sets his stories in an after-hours netherworld populated by lonely lovers and disappointed dreamers. 


Jordan is a Juno Award and Genie Award winner, and in 2019 was Juno-nominated for his last album Both Sides. He is married to singer-songwriter Amy Sky, and in 2022, the duo recorded an album of duets entitled He Sang She Sang.




Rio Grande Intro / Frontier

Rio Grande

Bad Time to Say Goodbye

Cradle to the Grave

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

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Michael Jerome Browne

Three-time Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Traditional Singer, 2015; Solo Artist, 2012 & 2008), Recipient of the Blues With A Feeling Award at the 2020 Maple Blues Awards (with 35 nominations since 1999), five-time Juno Award Nominee in both the Roots/Traditional and Blues categories, Kerrville (Texas) New Folk Finalist -- Michael Jerome Browne is a multi-instrumentalist, a songwriter, and a living encyclopedia of American Roots music.


After three years of sporadic performing, Michael is hitting the road again and has released his new album “Gettin’ Together” in May of 2023. He traveled to different places to record with old and new friends: Harrison Kennedy, Mary Flower, Eric Bibb, John Sebastian, Colin Linden, J.J. Milteau, and many others. Getting together with these great musicians in the studio was highly therapeutic.


Whether he's gliding a slide across his resonator guitar, creating an intense mood with his tremolo 12-string guitar, or “hammering the claw” on his gourd banjo, Michael's passion and virtuosity always shine through. In the true tradition of folk music, his performances inspire us to see the interconnections between the many cultures and influences that gave birth to American Roots Music. Gospel, Blues, Old-Time, Country, Soul and Cajun, expect to hear all of this and more from a performer who's been called a street-smart archivist and an absolute treasure.


Born in South Bend, Indiana, Michael is the son of English professors whose love of music and poetry inspired them to take their nine year old son to the great jazz, blues and folk clubs in their adopted home of Montreal. By the age of fourteen, MJB was already a regular on the vibrant folk and coffee house scene adding banjo, fiddle, and mandolin to his masterful command of all variety of guitars and harmonica.


A musician's musician, when he isn't performing his own material he is in demand backing up and recording with other artists, most notably Eric Bibb, whose 2017 Grammy nominated CD “Migration Blues” he co-produced, played and sang on.


Please Help

Fixin' To Die Blues

Diamond Joe

Living With The Blues

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Friendly Rich

Friendly Rich, Canada’s legendary songsmith of dark and deranged folk songs, has just released his highly anticipated new LP Man Out of Time (March 31st on We Are Busy Bodies).


Man Out of Time is a riveting soundscape and explosive investigation of uneasy themes and sonic presentation not heard readily in the mainstream, but worthy of every minute spent in listening closely to it.   


Friendly Rich describes his latest studio recording as a “dark reflection of the pandemic”. But there’s more going on here - a punk sensibility with a folky delivery creates a unique sound that is as dark and hopeless as the pandemic that inspired it. Reflecting on his inspiration for the new album Friendly Rich had to say “I hope you enjoy this release; this work means a lot to me, I honour the great Quebecois songwriter Felix Leclerc, and I go to even darker places as a songwriter. I wanted to honour Felix Leclerc's music, and was able to dive into it with Mike T Kerr and Drew Jurecka to help.” 


What came out is a dark and unique interpretation that sets the tone for this record. With 4 Leclerc songs embedded throughout the recording, Man Out of Time shows the many sides of Friendly Rich as a composer and performer.


Man Out of Time features a rolling cast of Canadian musicians and guest performances by Brian Poole (Renaldo & The Loaf), Kevin Breit (Nora Jones, Hugh Laurie), Christine Duncan (Tanya Tagaq), Michael Ward-Bergeman (Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble) and many more unique musicians. The full-length recording features unique interpretations of legendary Quebecois songwriter Felix Leclerc among Friendly Rich's honed brand of deranged folk songs. The music can be described as high-energy, rhythmic and atmospheric, ranging from sullen stripped-down ballads to frenetic folky foot-stompers. Friendly Rich’s music is theatrical and melodic and brings to mind early Bowie with hints of operatic rock in the vein of T-Rex and Roky Erickson. Friendly Rich recalls “I really enjoyed making this record, flexing a new collaborative muscle in the process, sharing files internationally and pulling it all together. The last recording, I released before the pandemic was "We Are All Terrorists" a recording that featured over 75 guest musicians, recorded in several studios in Quebec and Ontario. From there, I was wanting to get more insular in my approach anyhow,  I was deeming a return to the days when I'd record naked in my parents' basement. Then the pandemic happened and voila, I present you...Man Out of Time.”


Hailing from Oakville, Ontario, Friendly Rich has composed background music for three seasons of MTV’s The Tom Green Show as well as a myriad of tunes as The Lollipop People released on his own eclectic record label, The Pumpkin Pie Corporation. More recently his work has been released in Europe by Hazelwood Records, which has led to playing in the massive summer festival circuit including the Fusion Fest in Germany, and the Balkan Fever Festival and Danube Festival in Vienna. On top of his musical career, Friendly Rich also just completed his PhD in Music Education from the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Lee Bartel. His doctoral research was on musical playgrounds as a vehicle for community development. Man Out of Time is released by We Are Busy Bodies and will be followed by tours in Canada and the US. Things are busy with Friendly Rich and The Pumpkin Pie Corporation, but as Friendly says, “One can either produce, or become produce.”



Alone On The Bus

Man Out Of Time


Petit Bonheur

Salvation Mountain

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Justin Rutledge


Acclaimed songwriter Justin Rutledge released his tenth album entitled ‘Something Easy’, May 19th,2023, via Outside Music.


“Something Easy” is an album and set of songs of rare beauty, each song is a world unto itself and yet draws you into a compelling narrative of discovery and understanding.


The new album was no small feat for Rutledge. He decided to write, record and produce the whole album, with one, then later two, bouncing baby boys at his feet.


Indeed, it was the arrival of Rutledge’s first son that convinced him he should level up on this record. As any new parent knows, free time is at a premium when there’s an infant in the house, and the Toronto-born-and-bred singer/songwriter didn’t want to waste any of that time. He took guitar lessons for the first time in his life, even though he’s been making a living as a professional musician for 20 years now. He went back to school and got a degree in Arts Administration, taking an internship behind the scenes at iconic Canadian concert venue Massey Hall. And, of course, he learned how to make a record by himself while simultaneously learning how to be a parent.


“It started after Jack, our first born, came along,” says Rutledge. “I had no time to go into the studio, so I started learning how to engineer and record myself. I ended up producing the whole album at home, working for 45 minutes to an hour each night for 2 years and calling friends for advice about the recording process. It was probably the slowest album I’ve ever made, but at the same time, I was teaching myself the basics of engineering.” He continues, "All of these songs are about youth, and I hadn’t realized that. And it’s interesting because I feel that, as a new dad, there’s this transition that’s happening where suddenly I’m realizing I’m in my 40s. And what’s happening is that our wild-and-free years are suddenly over there, and our ‘middle-aged’ years are now right here. I feel like I’m at this apex where I’m thinking a lot about my youth, But I’m not lamenting anything. I’m not old, I’m just shocked at how suddenly this new phase of life has begun.”


He'll celebrate the album release with a string of Ontario dates.

Thursday, June 22, 2023 - Toronto, ON - TD Music Hall

Friday, June 23, 2023 - Ottawa, ON - Red Bird Live

Saturday, June 24, 2023 - Ottawa, ON - Red Bird Live

Sunday, June 25, 2023 - Picton, Prince Edward County - Acoustic Grill


Accolades have piled up at Rutledge's feet since he released his first album, No Never Alone, via Six Shooter Records in Canada and Slowdive/Mojave 3, main man Neil Halstead’s Shady Lane Records overseas back in 2004, to rave reviews in such international publications as Uncut and NME. He won a Juno Award for Roots Album of the Year in 2014 for the album Valleyheart – which also landed him a Canadian Folk Music Award – and has since been nominated for three more Junos. He’s been long listed twice for the critic-voted Polaris Music Prize and has penned songs with Booker Prize-winning author of ‘The English Patient,’ Michael Ondaatje. Rutledge has also had songs included in film and television, including the Zac Efron film The Lucky One or TV shows The Blacklist, Vampire Diaries, and Teen Wolf. The music gets around.



Angry Young Man



Head for the Hills

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Ronnie Douglas

“Music is Medicine”, the new solo album from Ronnie Douglas, was put together during the pandemic since he wasn’t able to perform with his working band, The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band. The album is touching not only for its songwriting and stellar guitar playing but also for its tender appeal to the soul and the true healing powers found in music, no matter the genre.


I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of the album that came out March 2023. It is quite a gem and our conversation, delayed in part by some technical issues, focuses on Ronnie’s understanding that Music is Medicine for the spirit, body, soul and mind.    


Ronnie Douglas and his band will perform live June 11, at the Etwell Concert series, in Huntsville; 2012 Etwell Road, Huntsville, ON.


“Ronnie Douglas grew up in the First Nations village of Rama, geographically close to but culturally far removed from Toronto. He recalls a strong sense of both home and community, in particular, the influence of his 'big brother' Larry, a respected musician in his own right who introduced the younger sibling to a wide variety of musical stylings" - John Taylor,


Previous Maple Blues Award Nominees as Best New Blues Artist and 2-time Canadian Aboriginal Music Award recipient in Best Blues Category, The Ronnie Douglas Band has performed at various jazz and blues venues and festivals. Notable performances include Mariposa Folk Festival, The Southside Shuffle, Wasaga Beach Blues Festival, and their music has been featured on APTN’s Rez Bluez television.




Helping Hand (feat. Leanne Douglas)

Blues You Can Use

Right Between The Eyes



Maggie Fraser

Maggie Fraser sat down with Douglas in conversation about her riveting new album, "The Way That I Wish It Was”.


Maggie is a songwriter’s songwriter. Her songs are compelling, mysterious vignettes that completely capture the imagination and travel into unexpected and surprising terrain. Maggie Fraser is a Canadian singer/songwriter living in Toronto, Ontario.


Identifying primarily as a songwriter in the Folk/Americana genre, her songs have been recorded and performed by other artists, most notably Ontario singer and multi-instrumentalist, Colleen Hodgson, in her 2008 release Songs of Maggie.


Over the last few years, Maggie has stepped up to the mic and begun performing solo around the Toronto area. "The Way that I Wish it Was" is her first release as both singer and songwriter.


"The Way That I Wish It Was”, with songs distinguished by a unique lyrical quality, seems to know how to find its way into that dark, secret place inside and keep us company there."



Wild Black Dogs

Your Ghost

After The Loving

Song For Susan



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James Banning

James Banning is the lead vocalist and songwriter for the Quebec based band, Stunned. I met with James for a lively conversation in late January 2023. I am thrilled to share their exciting sound on Backstage.


Stunned is a 4-piece pop/rock band with some progressive elements. Stunned have recorded two albums thus far, Only Human and Alien Satellite. Both are fast paced, musically inventive and filled with thoughtful, timely lyrics, which reflect James’ political and philosophical outlook on the era we live in and his hopes for a better future. 


The indie band moved to Ottawa this year, in hopes of finding a broader fan base, while establishing their brand of rock in the thriving club scene. Stunned is an undiscovered Canadian gem. The band is preparing to release their third album in 2023. 




Tinfoil Hat Man

Only Human

Live this life


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Alex Southey

“Common Fantasies” was released December 16th, 2022. This explorative, intriguing and progressive album came to my attention somewhat serendipitously over the holiday season. I was immediately taken by the songs and a new artist that I was not, to date, aware of. Alex and I spoke January 17, 2023 and I am very pleased to introduce his music on Backstage on the Sound Café.   


Southey's immersive indie rock lives at the intersection of shoegaze and folk. By fusing these disparate genres together with cerebral, emotionally insightful songwriting he is one of the most interesting, endearing voices in this generation of Canadian musicians. 


Southey began as a solo acoustic artist in 2019. With each subsequent release (2019's winter folk Christmastown LP, the 2020 bells-and-whistles follow-up You're Not Just A Body to Me LP, the 2021 simultaneously weighty and spry ... And the Country Stirred, and finally its 2022 idiosyncratic, glitchy little brother My Nights On the Island EP) Southey has developed an increasingly passionate fanbase, along with positive recognition from Domionated, Exclaim!, The Manitoban, CBC Radio, CHCH Morning Show, and more.


In late 2021, Southey developed a backing band consisting of Christina Dare on bass and backing vocals, Gab Lavoie on synth and piano, and Craig McCann on drums and percussion, which took his performances from intimate displays of songwriting craft all the way to an emotive full-band in-your-face experience you'll have playing in your head long after it's finished.




The Gods are Fighting


Common Fantasies

You Want It Brighter





Lynn Harrison

Lynn Harrison joins Douglas in conversation about her newest album, Treasure and performs three songs acoustically during their talk, letting the magic of these songs speak for themselves.  


“A gifted artist known for thoughtful, heartfelt songs of uncommon beauty, power, and insight; Toronto singer-songwriter Lynn Harrison is an inspiring presence on Canadian stages. Her new seventh solo album Treasure (produced by Douglas September) features musicians David Woodhead, Bob Cohen, and Ambrose Pottie.


Harrison will be celebrating the album release in concert and online as a livestream event on Saturday, February 25th at Eastminster Church, 310 Danforth Avenue, Toronto. Doors will open at 6:30 pm with music starting at 7:30 pm. Tickets and Livestream Link are $20 at Eventbrite or at the door.


Lynn Harrison is a concise storyteller, prolific songwriter, and an expert turner of memorable phrases. As an ordained Unitarian Universalist (UU) minister currently serving at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, it’s clear that in all paths of her work, Harrison presents an inspirational message of love, hope and justice.


Treasure is an album about staying sane in a mad world; about facing change with love and optimism; a 12-song prayer cycle that's both personal and universal – from a songwriter's songwriter, whose deft lyricism, melodic sensibilities, and captivating voice are second to none. Harrison reveals the things she treasures, and in doing so, provides a map to our own. Listening to Treasure is like having a spiritual experience without having to go to any church.


On Treasure, Lynn Harrison has documented the many small but significant treasures in her life, and reflected on those available to us all. How very appropriate it is that these songs themselves are treasures as well. You only have to listen to find them.”


Lynn plays three selections from Treasure:


"Let's Talk to Each Other Like Trees" is a thoughtful, poignant meditation on communicating at the soul level, with other people, and with the earth. The lyrics to this song inspired the album's cover and liner art.


To the hypnotic, percolating sound of Harrison's fingerpicked rhythm guitar, "Punctuation" ingeniously parallels an author's periods, question marks, and run-on sentences with those of our lives. It's an intimate and reflective musical prayer for turning points of all kinds.


"Good Songs" is a tender-hearted acoustic solo piece featuring Harrison's intimate vocals and sparkling guitar, affirming the value of songs to inspire love and heal the world. It's a masterful songwriter celebrating the power of her chosen profession.


Help Me Do the Next Right Thing

Every Precious Day

Let's Talk to Each Other Like Trees


Good Songs





Kate Weekes


On her 4th album, Better Days Ahead, finds the Quebec-based singer-songwriter Kate Weekes exploring “the liminal space created by lockdowns and cancelled plans”.  Given that Weekes’ song writing has typically been inspired by travel, Better Days Ahead required an entirely new way of writing, using internal cues to map a moment in time. Composing mainly in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec, Weekes found “the boreal forest and Canadian Shield were beautiful places to pass a challenging period.” Indeed, the wildly eclectic songs assembled on Better Days Ahead — which Weekes variously describes as “Appalachian-influenced murder-suicide ballads, anthemic folk-pop, whimsical instrumental waltzes,” and “moody, horse-riding cowboy meets British rock”— announce an artist fiercely unbound by musical convention yet precisely able to articulate her vision.


All albums are travelogues of sorts, deep dives into foreign (sometimes familiar) worlds undertaken with little more than a guitar, a notebook, and an unquenchable desire to explore. Few artistic journeys have been as expansive as the one mounted by Kate Weekes as she assembled ‘Taken by Surprise’, recorded in 2019 with James Stephens in Chelsea, QC. This dazzling third solo album charts a tumultuous period in Weekes’s life; her first album to fearlessly chronicle not just the physical landscape around her but also the emotional one within.

Now based in Wakefield, Quebec after nearly a decade spent immersed in the Yukon’s vibrant music scene, Weekes drew on an astonishing array of experiences including dog mushing-for-hire in Norway, touring China with a swing band, canoeing from Whitehorse to Dawson City and, notably, several intense personal relationships to write these by turns mournful and joyous songs.

That unique backstory explains why a one-genre description simply cannot capture the album’s musical scope. It’s more like: eclectic, lyrical, vocally propelled folk/pop with subtle jazz underpinnings buoyed by everything from organ to flugelhorn to trumpet. Indeed, you might say ‘Taken by Surprise’ is the ultimate sonic scrapbook of a bold life lived to the fullest.




Sinking Ships

Floating Face Down

Empty Bottles

Poet Friend

Time by the Moon





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.



Tombstone Markers

Inside These Walls

Wake Up


Wild Love

My Game





Maggie's Wake

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.



Bridget O'Brien

Shaken and Stirred

Christmas Is Coming (For You)




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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

Hi Love

At My Feet

Ships at Sea





Justin Saladino

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

Honest Lies


Let You Go





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

Misty Mountains


Through the Night

Golden Hour





Matthew Barber


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





John Pippus


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.




Two Sides To Every Lie

Some Days

Seen A Ghost

The Devil's On His Way

Crush The Fear

Just A Dance

Whole World Watching (For Ukraine)








Jim McCarty

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

Lost Women








M.D. Dunn


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

Ghost Water

We Need Everyone








Joe Nolan

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





Briar Summers

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

I Won't


Wingless Angel

How to Fly




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

Monday Morning

The Great Divide

I've Been Living with the Blues

Evil in the Heart.

With a Little Help from My Friends




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