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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.

Listen To More Interviews From Our Vaults HERE

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BRING IT ON is the exciting new album from Trad.Attack! featuring a thunderous mix of Estonian folklore with electronica, drums, programmed beats, fiddle, the Estonian bagpipe, soaring electric guitar solos and pumping pop-folk. BRING IT ON is equally blessed with sensitively produced folk songs, perfect layered harmonies sprinkled with atmospheric brass instrumentation and dulcet vocals.


Estonia’s power trio: Sandra Vabarna, Jalmar Vabarna and Tõnu Tubli - Trad.Attack! have come together once more for an electro-folk serving of tunes on BRING IT ON with a stated purpose to head into new musical territory.



Sandra Vabarna: Estonian bagpipes, jew's harp, whistles, vocal

Jalmar Vabarna: 12-string guitar, electric guitar, 6-string acoustic guitar, piano, synths, vocal

Tõnu Tubli: drums, percussion, brass instruments, glockenspiel, synths, vocal


Trad.Attack! have produced the album using their trusted instruments, but, also new instrumentation, performing with guest vocalists and musicians who bring new languages to the songs. While the album is mostly performed in dialects from different parts in Estonia, BRING IT ON also features lyrics in English (‘Liugu-laugu’), Yemeni Arabic (’Öelge sõnnu’) and Georgian (’Kiigelaul’).


Trad.Attack! chose to collaborate with both national and internationally acclaimed musicians for the album. BRING IT ON includes guest performances from Estonian guitar legend Laur Joamets (Sturgill Simpson), Canada’s internationally acclaimed The East Pointers, Yemen Blues co-founder and vocalist, Ravid Kahalani and the Georgian male choir, Iberi. BRING IT ON also features Seto singers from southeast Estonia and respected bassist, Martin Laksberg. 


As guitarist Jalmar Vabarna says, “This album has set us off on a new journey to broaden our horizons. We try out new instruments and search for new sounds. Our paths have crossed with those of many other musicians, from the worlds we know and from the unfamiliar ones.”


Lase käia feat. Laur Joamets

Püksata magama

Liugu-laugu feat. The East Pointers

Öelge sõnnu feat. Ravid Kahalani



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Tara McLean

“There is no magical thinking because everything is magical”. Tara MacLean graced me with a riveting conversation about her new memoir “Song of the Sparrow”, released on March 14th, 2023 with Harper Collins Canada, and her new album that is the soundtrack for the book released on March 31st, 2023. Tara is a firmly grounded, sophisticated human with a wide range of interests and possessing the wisdom to see her life and all life for its profound beauty and wonder.

Canadian singer-songwriter Tara MacLean has been an internationally renowned and award winning recording and touring artist for over 25 years. She released her first album with the Nettwerk Music Group in 1996 and Sony Music Publishing Canada. Since then has been signed with Capitol Records, and EMI Canada with her JUNO nominated band Shaye. She has written and recorded six solo albums and two with Shaye.

Tara has recently received the Senate of Canada Medal for her activist work in her community. She finished a run of three summer seasons with her hit theater show that she wrote, produced, and directed called, “Atlantic Blue-The Stories of Atlantic Canada’s Iconic Songwriters” in Charlottetown. The summer of 2019 saw Atlantic Blue produced and directed by the world famous Charlottetown Festival playing three nights a week to sold out crowds.

Tara received the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award as well as Solo Recording of the Year for her latest album, Deeper at the PEI Music Awards. Deeper was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at ECMA 2020. Her duet with Catherine MacLellan, "This Storm", received the award for Song of the Year. She performed “Songs from Atlantic Blue” in Concert with the PEI Symphony Orchestra. Last year, Tara received the Stompin' Tom award by the East Coast Music Association, marking an outstanding contribution to music in the region.

Tara MacLean is an environmental and social justice activist, a zen student, a poet, author and a playwright. She resides primarily in her home province of Prince Edward Island, and also lives part time on Salt Spring Island, BC. She considers herself bi-coastal. Her greatest joy is being a mother to her three beautiful girls.

Her first book, Song of the Sparrow, was released on March 14th, 2023 with Harper Collins Canada, followed by a new album that is the soundtrack for the book. 



That's Me



Lay Here in the Dark





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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



Mimi O'Bonsawin


“Just like the bark of the willow tree, the making of this album has brought me so much healing. I have never felt more alive," says Mimi. For many years, Mimi struggled to find her ‘sound’, her ‘voice’. “This album sounds like the music I have always heard in my heart.” Mimi adds; “It is honest, it is real and it is full of life. I feel like all of my previous albums have led me to where I am now, learning and growing at every chapter.”


“Willow” released on March 03, 2023, is one of those rare albums that takes your ear and heart away. Mimi is a gifted artist, her music and lyrics reflective of a strength and wisdom beyond her years, she fills the listener with a serene hopefulness and an inner joy at the wonder and awe that surrounds us in each and every breath.


Mimi O’Bonsawin is a contemporary roots singer-songwriter from Northeastern Ontario. Through her rhythm and story-driven songs, Mimi embraces the beauty of the land, all the while yielding to her Franco-Ontarian and Abenaki roots. The ethereal quality of her music whisks you away with uplifting melodies and introspective lyrics that weave pop sensibilities with acoustic instruments. The layers of percussion and surprising harmonies make you feel the music rather than just hear it.




Stone Gaze

Where My Roots Grow

Here's to the Women

The River

Earth Child's Song

I am Alive


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Savoy Brown

“Blues All Around” from Savoy Brown was released worldwide on Quarto Records, on February 17, 2023. The release of the new album is especially poignant in that it comes after the December 13th passing from cancer of band founder and sole constant Savoy Brown member guitarist/lead vocalist Kim Simmonds.


Simmonds is considered one of music’s premier blues/blues rock guitarists and songwriters and is also discussed as one of the architects of the 1960’s British blues scene in London. 


Simmonds, an early pioneer of the British blues movement and a passionate proponent of the blues, lost his hard-fought battle with cancer just a week after turning 75.


“Blues All Around” follows Savoy Brown’s critically acclaimed 2022 album, “Ain’t Done Yet”, and is lovingly dedicated to the band’s families, friends, and Savoy Brown fans everywhere.


Garnet Grimm, drummer with Savoy Brown, for the past fourteen years, joined me in conversation about recording the album, along with guitarist and songwriter, Kim Simmons and bassist Pat DeSalvo.


Savoy Brown’s long career is legendary and under Simmons lead, considered one of the astounding success stories of their era.    


Simmonds’ clean, crisp, biting guitar work, established Savoy Brown for its peerless sound in the 60s music scene, which continued to attract loyal fans for the decades that followed.



Why Did You Hoodoo Me

Going Down South

California Days Gone By


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Clay Melton

A path to Greatness


Blues-rock prodigies are a different breed…especially those who have Texas roots.  


Johnny Winter…Stevie Ray Vaughn…Jimmie Vaughn….T-Bone Walker….Freddie King….Albert Collins….Billy Gibbons….all have ties to Texas, all of them are unique and all of them are legendary.  


Yes, it’s a bit too early to put Clay Melton on that list, but don’t be shocked if he carves out a path to greatness. He certainly possesses the musical goods and talent to do so. 


Like his Texas guitar slinger forebears, Clay lives and breathes the fiery swagger of electric guitars and the irresistible allure of rhythm-soaked sounds. That’s Clay Melton’s musical calling in a nutshell.


Melton’s young, clean-cut, baby-faced appearance is in stark contrast to his hard charging blues-rock attack, which is both ferocious and melodic and is reminiscent of the music of two big influences on his playing: Stevie Ray Vaughn and Billy Gibbons. 


Clay’s more straight up blues playing reveals him to be a fiery, inventive player that also shows off an introspective and reflective side of his personality.


At only 27 years of age, the blues-rocker has already spent 14 years performing live. His powerful, raspy voice and searing, wicked guitar licks leave no doubt he’s grown up in the school of bar room blues-rock.


Beginning on February 24, Clay released worldwide a new single, Alive on a Wire, and follow-up on April 14th with a second new single, entitled Runner.  His new album will eventually follow in late ’23 or early ’24.



Imaginary Traveler (Live)

Alive on a Wire

Devil Don't (Live)




Leslie Taylor

Like it did for so many others, the pandemic allowed for a time of deep reflection, and Toronto-based veteran pop-fusion artist Leslie Taylor combines memories of a brutal past with the sweetness of being 16 and awakening to one’s sexuality in her new single “Look But Don’t Touch”.


“Look But Don’t Touch” combines easy, island-infused beats, deft guitar, and Taylor’s crystalline, soulful vocals to tell the story of someone walking into her first gay bar in Toronto called The Studio, that used to be at Carlton And Church, and meeting someone that would change her life for the better. At first, the narrator is nervous, but then she settles into the uncomplicated fun she wills herself to have:


“Oh honey

Doncha be so coy

Let’s have a giggle and a drink

It looks like

You might overthink”


The lackadaisical flirtation of the song has more earnestness to it, however, when you know the backstory, “This first release of ‘Look But Don’t Touch’ is my voice as a 16-year-old teenager without a home discovering and awakening to my different sexuality and having no idea what was going to happen,” Taylor divulges. “Well, the worst had already happened, but at least I wasn’t having water boiled to be thrown on me anymore by a violent parent.”


As a young teen, Taylor was living at Eglinton and Kingston Road in the heart of the ‘hood' in a sole support home with a parent who didn’t know how to parent. Taylor was a child born at the end of a horrific marriage and is a surviving child because of her brother Pierre’s death in 1959 in Barbados.


“The trauma of his death never left me. I was suddenly taken from my home in Toronto at 5 years old in the year of our complicated centennial, and flung into a Caribbean home with Grandparents I didn’t know - all hell broke loose, surprise, surprise - and without my mother. I met my brother Pierrre when I was 5 years old at his graveside one Easter Morning in that Moravian Church Graveyard. My Grandfather, the Lay Minister of Sharon Moravian Church, insisted on having Easter Sunday Service at the grave of the dearly departed namely my brother Pierre.I was terrified of these people. Imagine meeting your sibling at his grave. My Brother went on vacation in 1958 to visit his Grandparents and was dead and buried a week before his second birthday in 1959 without either of his parents in attendance. No investigation, no empathy, just silence. They literally got away with burying their Grandchild, and never having to explain what happened.”


Taylor had been raised in residential services from the age of six months until 3 years old, and came home only on the weekends, spending Christmases and birthdays in residential care.


“My baby book of memories is rife with the neglect, written by a parent that could not cope, would not get help, and was a trained RN, whose Machiavellian style of parenting created a non-stop environment of trauma." When she did finally go to live with her mother, it was a deeply unhappy home. “That was my life living on the margins within the margins, and my Sears special jumbo guitar with seagulls on the flange was my only friend. Yes, I had acquaintances but as soon as they discovered who I was, I became a pariah, to be expected – it was 1977, after all.”


Taylor came out as a Lesbian in her teens, and she eventually found her way to the Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT), which was a cultural, social, and political hub of mostly white, middle-class women. Taylor is Black, the daughter of a Barbadian mother and Jamaican father, and even though this was a place where she was finally supposed to experience belonging, she didn’t.


“It was women, who were all white, spewing Marxist-Leninist doctrine as they argued with the Trotskyites, and told everyone how to think, act, they believed all men were bad. I don’t believe that, and as a Black woman my feminism includes my men,” Taylor said. “We work together to eliminate misogyny. I have no intention of migrating to an island with only angry, scary women, where my status as a Black woman would have been relegated to that of the ‘help.’”


But there were little glimmers of hope and belonging. She met a woman named Pat, who was Guyanese and lived with her partner Charlene. “For me, these women embodied the Lesbians of the time. Not only did they live on site but they were an interracial couple that lived their principles, they weren’t doing this for a college credit, they were not problematic volunteers, with problematic substance abuse issues ( the drinking women scared me, I didn’t drink, remember I’m 16) they were human beings that I could envision as mentors.  And then there were more Black women who came into her life at just the right time. Including, through her music, Joan Armatrading, whose album Show Some Emotion was hot off the presses. Joan spoke in whispers of the love ‘that cannot speak its name,’” Taylor recalls. “I’d finally found someone I could relate to musically, and Ms. Armatrading was from the Caribbean like me.”


And so, Taylor’s “Look But Don’t Touch” has all of this woven throughout, and when she begins the song with “I walked into an old space,” it hits differently now that you know.


What else you should know is that Taylor isn’t new to any of this. In the mid-‘90s, she released a self-titled, all-original, nine-track album as an independent artist and led a five-piece band under her own name. Despite the lack of infrastructure at the time, ‘First Born’ charted on college radio in Toronto. Parenthood became her priority, because it was crucial to her that her daughters be raised in a financially stable home. So, despite her love of music, Leslie deferred her dreams (with pleasure) to co-parent her now-adult daughters who are out in the community thriving. In five years, Leslie returned to university, completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in Social Work, and was invited onto the faculty of Community and Social Services at Humber College as a partial-load Professor, where her skills of engagement with large classrooms were honed. Leslie studied jazz guitar with a well-known instructor in Toronto and continued to write her music.


"Remember through access to healing, it’s not where you start it’s where you end, and that 16-year-old that did not become street involved and went to school and studied is so deeply grateful for the family of Jamaican musicians and artists that took her into their lovely homes, nurtured her, insisted that she go to school and study, and kept me safe. It’s cool to heal, and as I make peace with the past, through continued access to the available healing resources, that I’ve always used. Here’s what I’ve learned: you can have compassion for your bloodline from a distance, I have a wonderful chosen family, you do not have to be their scapegoat and or their punching bag.  Wish them well on their journey, it’s not your responsibility to heal them, and it’s fine to not have contact if the only thing that has healed and grown is you, and there’s nothing to miss except trauma. This is the best part of my life, FREEDOM!!,” she exalts.


"The past is over and done, there ain’t a damn thing you can change, the best you can do is buckle up honey and hold on as tight as you can, knowing ‘love’s for real."



Look But Don’t Touch

And a sneak preview of “Love is For Real”




Steve Dawson

Since 2022 to date, Steve Dawson has released three extraordinary albums, “Gone, Long Gone”, “Phantom Threshold” and this March 2023, “Eyes Closed, Dreaming”. The trilogy comprises a remarkable body of work, styles and spotlights Steve’s grace and agility as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.


I have been a long-time fan of Steve music and his prodigious career in music as a sideman, producer and solo artist. It was great honour to meet Steve and our conversation touches upon his work over the past year, including his association with Kelly Joe Phelps, his podcast but most of all the creation of this haunting new album “Eyes Closed, Dreaming”.    

Over the past two decades, Steve Dawson has become such an indelible fixture on the Canadian musical landscape that it’s tempting to take him for granted. The music that flows out of him is so natural and authentic that it’s possible to forget all of the toil that went into producing it.


Behind the seemingly endless stream of award winning musical output (he has produced and/or played on more than 200 albums since the turn of the millennium, 7 of which have won Juno Awards), is one of the hardest working musicians this country has ever produced. Whether he’s turning heads on the concert circuit with his incendiary playing, or pulling the best possible performances out of the many artists that he works with in the studio, Dawson is always striving to take things to the next level.


A native of Vancouver, Canada, but currently residing in Nashville, where he works as a solo artist, sideman, and record producer,  Steve has forged an impressive career full of highlights and awards, including:


7 Juno Awards as artist/producer, 18 times nominated

3 times named "Producer Of The Year" at Western Canadian Music Awards

4 times named "Producer Of The Year" at Canadian Folk Music Awards

Recipient of many other awards including Maple Blues Awards, Grand Prix De Jazz De Montreal, Blues Blast Awards, and many Western Canadian Music Awards and Canadian Folk Awards as an artist and producer.


Steve’s multi-faceted career has brought him to countless international festivals, working on the stage and in the studio with an extensive cast of musicians, including John Hammond, Sonny Landreth, Van Dyke Parks, David Hidalgo, Colin James, Jim Byrnes, Jill Barber, Dave Alvin, Joe Henry, Tim O'Brien, Fats Kaplin, Colin James, The McCrary Sisters, Matt Chamberlain, Del Rey, Birds of Chicago, Allison Russell, Long John Baldry, Bruce Cockburn, Kelly Joe Phelps, Linda McRae, CR Avery, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Geoff Muldaur, Scott Amendola, Danny Barnes, The Deep Dark Woods, Colin Linden, Big Dave McLean, and many others.


He sees production as an exciting step in the creative journey that a song takes from its beginning as a songwriter's idea to a final recorded product. The producer has to understand the music and be able to know what will open possibilities in it. Being a musician is not essential, but it helps, and Dawson brings enviable chops to his work. He also owns a vast collection of unusual instruments, many of which he plays on the recordings he helps to craft – modern electric instruments find themselves blended in with weissenborns, marxophones, pedal steel, pump organs and other odd antique instruments.


Steve's studio, The Henhouse, located in Nashville (and previously in Vancouver)  has hosted countless artists and been the home to over 80 releases. With a beautifully warm and organic setting to stay and record, it promises to become a destination for many more to come.


Between producing projects for other artists, Steve has recorded music of his own that has explored blues, jazz, Hawaiian, rock, and experimental music. His groundbreaking work with Jesse Zubot in Zubot and Dawson kicked things off in 1998, leading to 2 albums with Toronto jazz stalwarts Andrew Downing and Kevin Turcotte in the award-winning Great Uncles of the Revolution. Steve’s solo recording output started with 2001’s award-winning acoustic “Bug Parade”, he next explored blues and Hawaiian influences in depth with “We Belong To The Gold Coast” in 2005. 2008 saw the release of 2 albums – “Telescope” which was the culmination of studies with Greg Leisz and featured music written for the pedal steel guitar, and “Waiting For The Lights To Come Up”, a collection of new songs. He followed that with 2011's acclaimed "Nightshade", which Acoustic Guitar magazine named to it’s Top-10 guitar albums of the year. 2014’s “Rattlesnake Cage” – was an award-winning exploration of solo acoustic and slide guitar. Dawson’s 2018 release “Lucky Hand” is a mesmerizing collection of original fingerstyle and slide guitar instrumentals, 5 of which feature Dawson reuniting with his old cohort Jesse Zubot, who arranged incredible string quartet parts to flow with the music. Recorded live off the floor it brings together the American Primitive style Steve has often explored and cutting-edge strings to create music unlike anything you've heard before.



A Gift

Long Time To Get Old

House Carpenter

Waikiki Stonewall Rag

The Owl

Bad Omen




Lynn Miles

Lynn Miles has earned her reputation as one of Canada’s most formidable songwriters, having written more than 900 songs and released 15 albums over her remarkable career. She’s racked up multiple Juno Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, had two albums voted #1 by readers of Penguin Eggs magazine, and had her songs covered by a multitude of artists including Claire Lynch on her Grammy-nominated album North by South. The Ottawa-based singer is a producer, professor and public speaker, a paragon of excellence in everything she does. You could say she is reliable. The songs on her 16th album, TumbleWeedyWorld, however, are about unreliability. About shaky situations. About a time when cracks begin to appear in everything. 


“These are songs that arrive at a moment when global instability illuminated the fragility of personal relationships. They’re about impermanence. About incompatibility. About the left and about the leaving. About spiteful endings. About how those endings are never crystal clear, about the complications of regret. They’re songs about navigating life’s hurdles, about dodging tumbleweeds, about leaving stuck situations. On the surface, they’re hurtin’ songs about two people who can’t make things work.


TumbleWeedyWorld, like many Lynn Miles records, sounds the way a warm blanket feels. Her emotive, empathetic vocals are situated in acoustic arrangements with nods to pop, country and bluegrass, without percussion. She’s surrounded by ace instrumentalists, but her voice is always central. Says fellow songwriter Ellis Paul, from Boston, “Lynn Miles has the kind of voice that insists that you pull the car over. Call the radio station. Change your citizenship. Buy a home in Toronto. She’s been blessed with such a drop-dead-beautiful, honey-smooth voice that it’s impossible to not fall in love with it. It rides along the ebb and flow of a gifted sense of melody. She’s the kind of lyricist that renders whatever heartache you feel into something both beautiful and aching. She also is extremely funny. Like she’s carrying an antidote to inject you with between songs to cure you of the snake bite.”


As a public speaker and writer, Lynn Miles speaks of mental health issues in the music community; she gave a presentation on Musicians and Mental Health at the 2019 Folk Alliance International conference. She has raised over $10,000 for charities with her “ugly sweater” raffles at her annual “Winter/Christmas” shows. Her single “What If You Were a Refugee” raises funds for agencies that help migrants.


Featured Songs:

Cold Cold Moon


Highway 105

Night Owl



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Ian Tamblyn

Musician, Adventurer and Playwright


I first met Ian Tamblyn at Northern Lights Festival Boreal close to 50 years ago, and it’s been a joy to watch his continued skill and craft grow over these many years. His music is beyond an inspiration, delving poetically and figuratively into Canadian and Universal themes as only a master such as he can achieve.


It’s a great honour to have him on Backstage on the Sound Café, in conversation about his newest album, his 30th, A Longing For Innocence, his upcoming tours and his approach to songwriting, production, playwriting and more.   

Ian Tamblyn has been a working musician since 1972. He has released dozens of albums of his work as well as acting as producer for many other artists.  Over the years Ian has written too many songs and has given up on counting them. He has also written fourteen plays and over one hundred theatre soundtracks.


Mr. Tamblyn has received a number of awards and nominations. In 2012, Ian was made a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society for his guiding and creative work in the Canadian Arctic. He has been awarded the Estelle Klein and Helen Verger Awards for his contributions to Canadian folk music; he has a honourary doctorate from Lakehead University, a Distinguished Alumni Award from Trent University and was voted English Songwriter of the Year in 2010 by the Canadian Folk Music Awards, amongst other awards and nominations in the music and theatre world.



​Featured Songs:

Ghost of John Hurt

Woodsmoke and Oranges

Higher Plane


The Dolphins Came to Venice

Dark Secrets

Old Voice



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Stephen Schijns


In December 2022, just before the new year, I was introduced to the remarkable recorded music of Stephen Schijns, with his album, “Where Do We Go?”, a breathtaking collection of songs compiled by a writer fully in command of almost any genre he chooses to express himself in, and, full of fun! Songs reminiscent of the sixties collide with rock and roll, almost heavy metal, followed by deep roots soul. I have to say I can’t get enough of these songs and was delighted to finally meet Steve for a conversation on January 31.


Stephen Schijns (pronounced Skines or Skynz) seems like he’s come out of nowhere with this startling collection of new songs on “Where Do We Go?”

This extraordinary debut album is the result of a long-simmering musical stew – Stephen, in his early 60s, has been absorbing pop, rock and folk music for decades while cooking up a batch of influence-laden yet wholly original erstwhile hit singles.


This is no concept album; each track stands on its own and the music leaps all over the record store aisles from ragtimey piano romps to chunky guitar riffs to contemplative thought pieces. Throw in some Sixties dancefloor pounders, a surf song, classic power pop, and quirky folk-rock tunes and you’ve got a true box of chocolates. I can’t think of any direct analogies to another artist, but snippets of pop history are scattered throughout. Perhaps a Venn diagram of Tom Petty, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Hoodoo Gurus would help?


The songs are carefully structured, with singalong choruses, middle eights, melodic solos, guitar codas, and easily-understood vocals. Working with skilled studio musicians and producers, Stephen has imbued the guitar-driven proceedings with stellar musical backing to create the dynamic tension and resolution of classic pop-rock singles. While many of the tunes are furiously upbeat and cheery, some quieter interventions balance the sonic palette. Stephen’s comfortable singing is calm, warm, or urgent as needed.

The lyrics are interesting and thoughtful throughout, even on the lighthearted 60s-style tunes. Stephen has a slightly detached observational perspective that more often than not aims for an approachable universal reaction, rather than that of a deeply personal “singer-songwriter”. He sings about “a man” rather than “I”. Even in quirky songs like “The Yukon Doesn’t Care”, some solid philosophical and technical points get made. The lyrical cleverness of “What Do I Know About Love” and seriousness of “What? Why?” are played against buoyant musical ideas that almost make you forget what you’re humming along to. And the gorgeous “Elegy” brings proceedings to a close with a near-epic treatment of a man looking back on the errors and could-have-beens of his long life.


Stephen (Steve) Schijns (pronounced “Skines”) is an independent musician, singer, songwriter, and recording artist.  He is based in Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), Canada.

Steve has been a student of pop / rock music since the 1960s. Steve created community radio programs on CFRC (Kingston, ON), and CKCU (Ottawa, ON) in the 1980s focused on obscure and interesting 60s songs. After learning to play guitar in his 20s he began composing songs. In his 40s he began jamming with friends in a cover band in Mississauga, Ontario; as “Blunt Instrument” they had a dozen live performances over ten years but did not record. Steve entered a recording studio for the first time in 2016 with producer Glenn Domina in Toronto, where musical friends helped record his first couple of songs.

Since moving to Kelowna in 2020 and hooking up with talented producer Andrew Smith at Lake Studios, Stephen has worked with Andrew and selected session musicians to create a string of catchy, upbeat, thoughtful, and musically interesting releases that have gotten a positive response and some college radio play. Noted musician/producer Genya Ravan of Sirius XM21 has selected several singles for her monthly 12-song “best unsigned acts” program.”



Friday Saturday Sunday O'Clock

Trans-Pacific Beach Bum

One Thousand Miles From Nowhere

I'm Coming Over Tonight

The Yukon Doesn't Care




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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




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Steve Hill

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.


Blues Album of the year (2015)



Best self-produced CD (2013)



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

Dear Illusion



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Suzie Vinnick

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

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


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)





Terra Spencer


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



Good Friends




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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





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.




Black Sheep

The Flat Above My Pub







David Myles

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


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

Red Sky

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

Misty Mountains


Through the Night

Golden Hour





Ansley Simpson

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

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).



Secret Lover

The Wake

Without Warning





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

Grand River

I Sleep Like a Fugitive

I Will See You in the Morning






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





Ken Yates


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





The Big One (feat. Kathleen Edwards)


When We Came Home

Half-Clenched Teeth

Don't Mean to Wake You (feat. Stephanie Lambring)

Honest Light (feat. Caroline Marie Brooks)





Crystal Shawanda

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

Hey Love

Pray Sister Pray

Evil Memory



YouTube Channel


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

Salvation Bound

Back To Thee

Don't Feel Like Crying (feat. Leith Ross)





Blue Rodeo



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






Jerry Leger


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?

Nothing Pressing

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
JUNO Award 
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



Choose Forward

Only A Friend Like You

Never Mind The Weather

Time Doesn't Stop

We Were Young







Matt Andersen

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 DiddleyBuddy GuyGregg AllmanTedeschi Trucks BandRandy BachmanLittle FeatApril WineAmericaLoverboyJonny LangSerena Ryder, and Beth Hart.



The Gift

Other Side of Goodbye

Time for the Wicked to Rest

Coal Mining Blues

All We Need

People Get Ready





Séan McCann

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


Lonesome Sea

Deep Blue Sea

End of the World

Go To Sea No More









T. Buckley

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


Settlers' Town

Father's Child

Solid Ground

Kira's Song







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)








Bruce Cockburn


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

Beautiful Creatures

Each One Lost

If I Had A Rocket Launcher

Pacing The Cage





Lilli Lewis


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

Copper John

Beauty Beyond Reason


Wednesday's Child

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:


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 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. 





Hotel California

Make no Mistake

Gone and Alone

Regal Blues

Uptown Girl Blues

Werewolves Of London





Hawksley Workman

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.




Around Here

Wound You

Young and Wasted

We're Not Broken Yet

Sweet Hallelujah


Birds In Train Stations






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




Del Barber

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