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.
MUSIC & CHAT
After a successful 20 year stint based out of Toronto, Ontario as an international touring and recording artist in the songwriting-performing duo The Undesirables with hometown friend and collaborator Corin Raymond, Sean Cotton retired from the road, settling north of Muskoka in the Almaguin Highlands.
He spent the next several years writing and performing new original songs for the locals and tourists alike. These songs would become his 2019 solo album Only in Muskoka. The record celebrated the region while offering some character sketches that touched on some of the rougher edges of Muskoka. Songs like Hard Time of Year, The Accidental death of Thomas John Thomson, and his anthemic regional hit Broke in Muskoka.
I Don’t Mind the Rain
The Almaguin Highlands
Ready for the Snow
The Ballad of Old Man McLaren
Robert Berry, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, has released his third album, ‘Third Impression’ by 3.2, (Keith Emerson and Robert Berry), a celebration, tribute and musical extravaganza, dedicated to his working partner Keith Emerson.
While he may be best known as the vocalist/bass player in the ELP spinoff, 3, with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, Berry impressive list of credits include a stint fronting Ambrosia, and long running affiliations with Alliance, December People, Sammy Hagar and the Greg Kihn Band. Berry has released 5 solo albums, contributed to a number of high-profile tribute albums and has an impressive track record in the studio.
He grew up in a musical family in what would become Northern California’s Silicon Valley. It didn’t take long before he appropriated a Vox Continental organ from his father’s music store. By the time he was a freshman in high school, his group had released a single that went on to become a regional favorite. Although he denies it, according to his school mates, Berry was known as his school’s first full-fledged rock star. His bands became solid fixtures on the Bay Area college and club circuit, where they worked constantly. It was during this period that his interest in multi-track recording blossomed. Legend has it, Berry somehow finagled the very first Teac four-track recorder to arrive in the valley. It wasn’t long before he had written and recorded an experimental twenty-two song ‘rock opera’. As his quest for knowledge grew he managed to snag a part-time position as ‘assistant everything’ person at a busy San Jose recording studio. By the time he was a senior in high school he had acquired a reputation as a solid performer and in-demand studio musician.
With the release of her long awaited sophomore album, ‘Ladies Night’, Patty Crozier demonstrates her growing skills as a songwriter and her ability to make an emotional connection through song that only she is capable of.
This exciting collection of material is expansive in both her themes and her musical imagination, the scope of which will delight and surprise her many fans in the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada.
I'm Goin' Home
BEAMS’ new album EGO DEATH is a testament to healing, uplifting and insightful power of music and musical partnership. Based loosely on the ancient patterns “the Hero’s Journey”, Beam’s takes the listener on a voyage of profound discovery. Released March 26, 2021, Ego Death has been hailed as an album for the ages.
Born to Win
Ego Death sees Beams moving in a bold new sonic direction – one that puts loud guitars centre-stage, but still makes room for the airy acoustic instrumentation that defined its sound until now. This evolution was the result of singer/songwriter Anna Mernieks-Duffield choosing to move from banjo to electric guitar and take a bigger role at centre stage — a move supported by the rest of the band. Anna and vocalist Heather Mazhar’s harmonies remain Beams’ calling card, while the psychedelic textures blend with irresistible melodies to transport listeners to a higher plane.
The lyrics also take you on a journey: Ego Death is a narrative song cycle inspired by the concept of the “hero’s journey” or monomyth. The archetypal heroic adventure, in which the protagonist goes on a journey from which they come back forever changed, resonated with Anna as she set off on her own quest. Ongoing mental health challenges had previously threatened her partnership with Beams drummer, Mike Mernieks-Duffield.
Robert Connely Farr
Singer-songwriter Robert Connely Farr (2019 Maple Blues Awards nominee for Songwriter & New Artist of the Year) grew up in the small southern town of Bolton, Mississippi, home of Charley Patton & The Mississippi Sheiks. He currently resides in Vancouver, BC. When he's in Mississippi, he can be found at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia with his friend & mentor Jimmy "Duck" Holmes.
His new album, ‘Country Supper’, is a mysterious exploration of the ancient Bentonia style of Delta blues, made famous by legendary Skip James and more recently, Farr’s mentor, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes. Rich, tonal and deeply moving, Farr’s songs and playing approach will take you through the ages, deep into the past, only to recognize the heart of human feeling flows through all of us, right here and now.
Dirty South Blues
Girl In The Holler
I Ain't Dyin'
I know I've Been Changed
The new album from the ONTARIANS, ‘The Greatest Short Story Never Told’, is a surprising mix of styles and musical approaches that will prompt you to play this album on repeat for weeks to come. Highly skilled songwriters, the ONTARIANS weave a spell with this beautifully produced and performed, intimate and touching set of songs. Roots rock scene veterans Frank Deresti and Craig Smith began writing together in 2018 and joined by keyboardist Jay Stiles, the results are a stunning debut album.
Frank Deresti, has criss-crossed the country as a sideman for over a decade and released four albums under his own name beginning in 2012, all while holding down several high profile teaching positions at Sault Ste. Marie’s Algoma University and the Algoma Conservatory of Music.
Craig Smith cut his musical teeth in the underrated ‘90s singer/songwriter scene in Kitchener- Waterloo where he made two solo albums before moving to Collingwood and building a scene there through production work and booking artists at CROW Bar.
Jay Stiles has been hired to work on many projects over the years, and since his move to Austin, that network has grown exponentially. Along with being a part of ONTARIANS, Jay is also working with Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson on a new reggae project.
Photographs and Epitaphs
With the release of The Greatest Short Story Never Told, ONTARIANS are fully prepared to invigorate the roots rock world with their timeless sound. As Frank says, when something just feels right, it can’t be denied. “We started with a little idea of what direction we thought we could take, but it became apparent pretty quickly that we complemented each other’s approach to writing in every way. We haven’t stopped writing actually, even with this first album finished. We want to have enough material to put on a great show when the time is right, and we’re all hoping that time comes soon.”
Joe Louis Walker
Legendary songwriter and blues guitarist, Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner, joins us in conversation about his new album ‘BLUES COMIN’ ON’, his 27th album release, June 5th,2020, and shares some of his history in the Americana music scene from the past fifty years.
‘Blues Comin’ On’ is an exciting collaboration with many of his friends in the music industry and features some of the best song writing and performances in contemporary music.
Blues Comin' On (feat. Eric Gales)
Feed the Poor (feat. Jorma Kaukonen)
Old Time Used to Be (feat. Keb' Mo')
Awake Me Shake Me (feat. Carla Cooke)
7 & 7 Is (feat. Arlen Roth & Charlie Harper)
A true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter, he has toured extensively throughout his career, performed at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans. Walker’s 1986 debut album Cold Is the Night on HighTone announced his arrival in stunning fashion, and his subsequent output has only served to further establish Walker as one of the leading bluesmen on the scene.
Born on December 25, 1949 in San Francisco, at age 14, he took up the guitar. Just two years later, he was a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene, playing blues with an occasional foray into psychedelic rock. For a while, he roomed with Mike Bloomfield, who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Walker even made a brief pilgrimage to Chicago to check out the blues scene there. In 1975, burned out on blues, Walker turned to God, singing for the next decade with a gospel group, the Spiritual Corinthians. When the Corinthians played the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Walker was inspired to embrace his blues roots again. He assembled the Boss Talkers, and throughout the 1990s merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities on recordings released by Polydor/Polygram. These albums feature Walker’s collaborations with a diverse group of first-rate artists including Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, Tower of Power, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Ike Turner and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Walker has steadily released recordings since the turn of the millennium, and recently signed to Provogue / Mascot Label Group.
Always an artist deeply expressive lyrically, Walker continues to write and sing about themes that are universal.
Toronto-based Vivienne Wilder is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. Her music has been described as lit-punk, folk-noir and anti-genre; Wilder is her own constellation of sound, style, and influence. Her tone is wry and adorned with an endearing world weary disinterest; like your punk rock half-sister, she's enviably devoid of fist clenching sentimentality. Hers are morally ambiguous love songs for the intrepid and curious.
Thematically, Wilder is obsessed with the paradoxical beauty and sadness in unrequited love, the secret worlds of self-destruction, and of millennial disappointed hope. Her nuanced sound and crafted words embrace the traditional past and the anxious, non-linear present, all the while eschewing the easy lure of tribal political rant. Her performances are fearfully Sybillic in force and yield high comparison to PJ Harvey, Siouxie Sioux, The Cure, Thom Yorke and Fiona Apple.
Her third and latest release, postromantic (Fallen Tree Records, June 2020), was produced by her guitarist Neil Whitford, and co-produced and engineered by Andrew Mullin.
When You Cry
The Wanted are Natalie Rogers, Jeff Rogers, Richard Henderson.
For Strange Flight, their second album, The Wanted chose to raise their game further by enlisting production assistance from Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, whose trademark sonic approach emphasizes live group chemistry. That was indeed the end result after the core trio of Natalie Rogers (vocals, guitar), Jeff Rogers (vocals, guitar) and Richard Henderson (lap steel guitar, vocals), along with bassist Dan Mock and drummer Kyle Sullivan—borrowed from Jerry Leger’s band The Situation— emerged from the Junkies’ recording studio The Hangar with Strange Flight’s 10 tracks.
The Wanted have grown by leaps and bounds artistically since forming in 2003 out of informal songwriter gatherings centered around Toronto clubs the Cameron House and the Tranzac. They bonded over a shared love of classic roots artists, and it continues to guide them nearly 20 years later.
Miss Me When I'm Gone
Fire and Gasoline
Before The Fall
Way Down The Hole
Weary Town Blues
Andy Watts - Guitar Slinger
Andy talks about his new album : Supergroove
In his home country of Israel, Andy is widely considered to be Israel’s Ambassador of the Blues.
His live shows in his home country, along with the UK and Europe, both as a solo act and with his kick-ass band, Blues on Fire, has earned him a well-deserved reputation as a fiery, passionate blues guitarist and singer.
Andy's has performed with many of the modern blues greats including Joe Louis Walker, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Johnny Winter, Rick Estrin, Bernard Alison and Eliza Neals, amongst others.
Andy developed such tight musical chemistry with Kenny Neal that Kenny not only co-produced Andy’s new album, Supergroove, but he also released it on his label, Booga Music in conjunction with the Vizztone label group.
Supergroove is a highly charged album of ten electrifying blues tracks - dusted with a bit of rock, funk and R&B - featuring Andy’s sometimes gritty, sometimes slinky guitar and his soulful vocals along with his great band – including bass, drums, keyboards, trumpet, trombone, saxophones and occasional guest harmonica. On this album, the groove is king!
Guest vocalists on the album include Joe Louis Walker and Eliza Neals, plus explosive soul singer Roy Young, along with Danny Shoshan and Gadi Altman.
Half of the songs are Watts originals, while the others are Andy’s versions of classics by Freddie King and Andy’s biggest musical influence, the one-and-only Peter Green, Joe Louis Walker and Rick Estrin.
Living Hand To Mouth
Don't Take My Blues Away
Sue and Dwight
Sue and Dwight are songwriters whose work focuses on themes of peace, courage, and social justice. ‘Contemporary folk music with a few twists’, is how they describe their own sound.
Their warm harmonies, nesting on a bed of acoustic instrumentation, create a warm, intimate and memorable experience.
Sue and Dwight have released three CDs of original music and five Singles. The first CD, Darlings of the Open Stage, Little Child Big World and For A Moment.
Sue and Dwight have also released the following Singles: In The Spirit of The Holidays, How Do We Get Out of This Mess?, A Good Life, When They Came For The Others, and When The Rains Don’t Come.
As performers and songwriters, Sue and Dwight like to connect with audiences wherever they are. For the past 15 years, the duo has been a fixture on the Toronto Music Scene performing in clubs, house concerts and festivals in the area, including a six year weekly residency at The Cameron House, and a two year residency at the 120 Diner. Tours have taken them further afield to other parts of Ontario and Western Canada. They have also had the good fortune to be able to perform for the very people many of their songs have been written about...women living with HIV, students, and farmers...in school yards, villages and fields in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Sue and Dwight are currently sharing their music live online with a weekly show of their original songs called 'Livingroom Live' and a monthly 60's Folk Singalong. See Upcoming Shows for details.
Sue and Dwight are:
Sue Peters – vocals and acoustic guitar
Dwight Peters – vocals, guitars, piano, and accordion
When The Rains Don't Come
From a phone interview October 27 2020, Kat discusses her new album ‘Cry Out’.
Inspired by the variety and abundance of music in her parents’ collection, it makes sense that her own music is peppered with hints of R&B, soul, country, gospel, hip-hop, and rock-n-roll. Make no mistake; however, Kat Riggins is undeniably a BLUES WOMAN! She travels the world with the sole mission of keeping the blues alive and thriving through her Blues Revival Movement.
What is a “Blues Revival” anyway? According to Kat, it is a musical revolution that aims to awaken the masses and introduce them to the sincerity behind blues music. “It’s about the raw emotion in every note”, exclaims Kat Riggins as she attempts to describe her love of the genre. Backed by a dynamic band, Kat invokes said emotion through high energy soul shakers as well as heart breaking ballads. During a meet and greet after a sold out show in Belgium, a fan once jokingly asked Kat if ever there was a time she “phoned it in” to avoid ending up exhausted, sweaty and bruised from the tambourine… “If I can move someone to feel what I feel when I sing a song, then it's all worth it", said the Miami born singer-songwriter.
She has been vocally compared to Koko Taylor, Etta James and Tina Turner to name a few. While obviously influenced by those icons, Mrs. Riggins has a voice and delivery all her own. Full of power, rasp and grit she can belt out one of her contemporary blues originals one minute, then deliver a tender, sultry standard the next. She does this all while making each person in her audience feel as if she is speaking directly to them. Blues Revivals are interactive and personal no matter how large the crowd. This intimacy is what makes every Blues Revival a memorable experience…not only for the audience, but for Kat.
Try, Try Again
On her first full-length album Bring Out Your Dead, the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Leah Barley offers eight stirring original songs that evoke both the jubilation and heartbreak inherent to classic folk and country music. An accomplished banjo player as well as guitarist, Barley is joined on the album by a full band featuring longtime collaborators violist John Kastelic and multi-instrumentalist Ross Christopher Fairbairn to create a sound as affecting today as it was a century ago.
Bring Out Your Dead almost perfectly balances Barley’s light-and-shade approach to songwriting, from the life-affirming first single “Mountains” and the rousing boot stompers “I Wish” and “Drinkin’” to the chill-inducing title track and its spiritual cousin “Rise.” It’s all a product of Barley’s love of old-time country and bluegrass, which inspired her to pick up the banjo in her early twenties while living in Canmore, Alberta.
After a couple of months getting her feet wet at open mic nights, she released the first of three EPs in 2010 after moving to Vancouver. Since 2013, Barley has played in many parts of Canada, both solo and with other bands on the festival circuit, and was a featured performer at JUNOfest 2018, as well as on CBC Music.
She is eager to flex her performing muscles again the first chance she has to get back on stage safely. Until then, Bring Out Your Dead will brilliantly serve as Leah Barley’s calling card, and formally mark the arrival of a vital new voice in Canadian roots music.
released October 23, 2020
Bring Out Your Dead
Call Me Sometime
John Closs is a Sudbury, Ontario, musician and songwriter who released his first EP - Horizons in 2019, which has been re-released on Bandcamp, January 2021.
He is also starting a new project, which from all indications, will take him into new sounds and forms of composition. John has been a carpenter, a professor, and a union leader for most of his working life. He is a staunch defender of human rights and inclusiveness .
“From church choirs and piano lessons; through high school rock bands to basement jam sessions, music has been a constant source of pleasure and challenge for me. I write and perform songs that draw on the folk tradition. The songwriters that inspire me include Lynn Miles, Iris Dement, Phil Ochs, and John Prine.
I have had the pleasure of playing guitar and singing, both solo and as part of groups, for folks at Labour Day events, concerts, open stages and community celebrations. In 2019, I produced a five song EP of original material titled Horizons. The album is now available on BandCamp. Recently I have posted new songs on Soundcloud.
I live in Robinson-Huron Treaty territory and the land on which I live is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg people, specifically the shared territory of Atikameksheng and Wahnapitae First Nations, as well as Métis People. I grew up in a working class home in the fifties and sixties, and throughout my life have enjoyed the privilege of being a white male.’ John Closs.
Walking on Walls
Memories of Faces
Our very special guest is Bet Smith , talking here about her new album - Downer - her third album with producer Rob Currie.
Nothing quite prepares you for the emotional impact of this recording. It is meant for serious consideration - it’s themes are both personal and universal, its production is breath taking. The clarity of its vision and our response as listeners to it’s intent, has all been carefully considered by a renaissance artist of vast talents and skill.
A songwriter, a powerful vocalist, a blacksmith , a soil scientist ,a homesteader and advocate for climate responsibility, a champion of local musicians and a earth activist, Bet Smith is a Canadian alternative folk singer-songwriter who weaves environmental and socio-political philosophy into rich, reflective compositions. With a voice that is gentle and familiar, Smith offers elegant melodies locked to lyrics that are paced and precise.
Smith’s reverence for nature is ever-present in her writing. She attributes this to time spent homesteading on a small island in British Columbia. Far-removed from everyday conveniences like running water and electricity, Smith learned to find comfort in a give-and-take relationship with the land. Growing food, cooking over a fire, pulling water from the ground, waking up to see her breath hanging in the air on cold winter mornings; she learned to settle in with nature’s rhythms and embrace her dependence on the earth.
SONGS FEATURED: ©BET SMITH
Fires, Fires, Fires
I Would Rather Run
Some Greater Power
Bet Smith performing "Forgive You"
Kirk Fletcher is widely considered one of the best blues guitarists in the world,
he has commanded the respect and acclaim of critics, peers and fans across the globe.
He is a five-time Blues Music Award winner.
He has played with a variety of popular artists, including MANNISH BOYS / Joe Bonamassa and was the lead guitarist of The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Kirk graciously joined Douglas to discuss his new album – ‘My Blues Pathway’ and other aspects of his long career in the blues.
Ain't No Cure For The Downhearted
Love Is More Than A Word
Struggle For Grace
Heart So Heavy
Rather Fight Than Switch
Fatten Frogs For Snakes
Kirk Fletcher performing " Ain't No Cure For The Downhearted"
It is a personal delight for me to present Arthur Renwick, renowned multi-media artist, musician and singer-songwriter on Backstage to discuss his career as a musician and an artist.
From the Haisla Nation in Kitimat, BC, Canada, Arthur was embarked on national tour to promote his latest project, ‘Cowboy Crashing’ when he was called back home to care for his elderly mother in Kitimat. Arthur plays slide on a DoBro, while hitting a stomp, plays harmonica and sings his own songs along with some obscure covers. Besides performing solo, Renwick performs with Sean Pinchin as a duo called LOS DoBROS, and with D'Arcy Good in a duo called COWBOY CRASHING.
His art has been displayed in important shows most notably the National Gallery of Canada. https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artist/arthur-renwick
Arthur has release only one album to date, ‘The Cigar Box Chronicles’, produced by the legendary, Ken Whiteley, released in 2008. His song writing is filled with unique characters and stories drawn from his life and profession. He was an art professor at the University of Guelph when he decided that he must pursue music full time. Currently residing in Kitimat, Arthur has recently been elected Deputy Chief of the Haisla Nation.
I Tow The Line
It Gonna Go All Night
Cant Fool Me
Do The Bukowski
Links to Arthur:
Arthur Renwick, performing at Rod Gun & Barbers in Parkdale, Toronto, Ontario. Singing a new song, called "Back To The Crossroads"
From our January 16, 2021 interview, Sunday Wilde, Blues woman from Thunderbay, Ontario; discusses her career and her new projects, especially her new single, ‘Storm is Raging’ . Sunday is one of the unique creative voices on the Canadian Blues scene and she has built an extensive catalogue of her own songs and recorded some best versions of classic traditional Blues over her eight albums. Her music is steeped in the great wealth of tradition springing from the early Delta Blues but her own songs are filled with authentic imagery and emotion drawn from her own experience living and working as a musician in Northern Ontario.
Storm is Raging
Dead Man’s Clothes
Come On In.
Check out the video for Storm is Raging
Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Stephen Stanley is best known from his many years as a founding member, lead guitarist and vocalist with the vibrant alternative rock band The Lowest of the Low. After many song hits, years of touring and sharing the stage with the likes of Billy Bragg, Bob Mould, The Violent Femmes, The Jayhawks and Lloyd Cole, a gold record for their “genuinely timeless album” (Exclaim!) Shakespeare My Butt, Stanley is back on the music scene with his own band, The Stephen Stanley Band, and an internationally acclaimed record Jimmy & The Moon, (2017), produced by Hugh Christopher Brown. Jimmy & The Moon received considerable radio airplay, raves and features from Canada.
Americana UK described Jimmy & The Moon and Stephens artistry this way: “The songs are big and bold, unafraid, unashamed to flaunt their heritage… Stanley’s voice being not a thing of beauty but a workman’s tool skillfully used to create just the right effect…This is the work of a veteran who still has things to say.” Stephen expressed in an interview with Canadian Beats that he is “a write what you know kind of guy, and this album is no exception. For me, this album is about living in a city that is changing right before our eyes, sometimes for the better often for the worse.” Stanley is currently working on, arranging and pre-producing his band’s next record.
Last Station Lullaby
New Westminster Taxi Squad
A Lonely Sound
California (feat. Kate Fenner)
Jimmy & The Moon (Live)
Martin Barre is recognized as one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.
For forty-three years, his elegant playing was the artistic backbone of the classic progressive rock band Jethro Tull.
For over four decades, Jethro Tull recorded some of the most innovative and iconic rock tunes of all time. Aqualung, Thick As a Brick, Passion Play, Songs from the Wood, Crest of a Knave,
During his tenure in Jethro Tull, Martin Barre created one of the most distinctive and enduring guitar sounds to emerge from popular music.
On November 06, 2020, The Martin Barre band released a double CD 50 Years of Jethro Tull which presents some of these great songs reimagined and reinvigorated by Barre’s band which Martin has been touring with since 2011 when Jethro Tull disbanded.
The Martin Barre band is:
Dan Crisp (guitar / vocals), Alan Thomson (bass/fretless bass), Darby Todd (drums). With appearances by Becca Langsford (vocals/backing vocals), Josiah J (Percussion/Hammond),
Aaron Graham (drums), Alex Hart (vocals/backing vocals).
For A Thousand Mothers
On My Way
Al Lerman is considered by many to be one of Canada’s finest bluesman both as solo artist and as the bandleader of the renowned Juno Award winning band Fathead. Featuring songs from his latest album Northern Bayou, Al Lerman spoke to Backstage in early December 2020 about his career and songs and overall approach to the blues and the current music scene.
Features Songs :
Down to the River
Fire in the Hole
Dirty Little Secret
Gonna Have To Wait
A Few More Miles to Go
"BLUES WITH A WHOLE LOT OF SOUL!"
Veteran bluesman Al Lerman is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. He was founder and leader of the much loved 2X Juno Award winning band FATHEAD, and along the way built a solid career touring as an acoustic solo act. With wry wit and a great knowledge of the blues tradition on both harmonica and guitar, he brings that sensibility to songs that are written about his own contemporary life and times. He is considered among the top harmonica players in the country, and he has been heard on countless recordings and live sessions. His newest album “Northern Bayou” was released on April 12, 2019, where it remained on the Top Ten Canadian Album Chart for over six months. It charted internationally and ranked #4 in Canada on the annual Roots Music's Radio Top 200 Blues Recordings of 2019.
From our interview, Howard Gladstone, from Toronto, Ontario; discusses his latest album.
“The Promise”, a resonant collection of songs by Canadian songwriter Howard Gladstone’s is his 6th studio album, a set of contemporary yet also highly personal reflections. Recorded during the 2020 lockdown, these tunes contain thoughtful and heartfelt lyrics, rich, allusive language, performed by Howard and a talented ensemble of jazz, world, and folk musicians.
This is an album with a clear narrative arc, beginning at a place of shining memory (Woodstock Fifty), but in the end leaves us at a crucial, critical juncture (Crossroads) -the environmental crisis – where tough choices must be made. There are many interesting stops – Utopian or Dystopian- along the way.
A lush dream in a South Seas idyll (Paradise, Passing Through), is followed by a flamenco exploration of the harsh fate of exiles and the oppressed (Birds of Spain), even waltzing while the Empire falls (It All Falls Down). The title song (The Promise) lets us know that “for every stormy sky, there’s one of blue”, while ‘Someday ‘ hints at, even pledges, hope for a better tomorrow. A song by Jon Brooks, “There Is Only Love”, seamlessly melds into the blend.
Howard Gladstone’s strong lyrics are matched by his intimate vocal style. An ensemble of skilled musicians and singers– Kevin Laliberte, Russ Boswell, Bob Cohen, Marito Marques, Laura Fernandez, Julie Gladstone, Charmain Louis- contribute to this fully realized album.
Birds Of Spain
There Is Only Love
Paradise Passing Through
Windsor, Nova Scotia funeral director Terra Spencer discovered a passion for songwriting while touring as a vocalist and guitar player with country artist Ryan Cook, after being recruited while she scooped ice cream at a music festival. Since making her solo debut in 2018, she has charmed audiences in the Maritimes, Ontario, the UK, and Europe with deft fingerstyle guitar, gospel piano, butterscotch voice, and easy onstage conversation, making you feel knee-to-knee with her in a room of 500.
Her knack for telling intimate stories with heart and humour has caught the attention of Canadian musical mentors like David Francey, Ron Sexsmith, and Catherine MacLellan, and led to collaborations with artists including Dave Gunning and Mike T. Kerr. Her 2019 debut album Other People's Lives was nominated for Music NS Americana Album of the year. Her brand-new follow-up album, Chasing Rabbits, is a collection of very personal songs about home life and wildlife, leaving and longing, and the meaning of home, set against the backdrop of the Canadian winter and featuring some of Nova Scotia's best players including The Bombadils and Bela Strings. Produced by Terra and recorded at Sonic Temple in Halifax, Chasing Rabbits has received international airplay and quickly claimed spots on numerous lists of the Best Albums of 2020.
Jack de Keyzer
Acclaimed guitarist, singer, song writer, band leader and producer, Jack de Keyzer rarely sits still. For 46 years or roughly a couple million miles , de Keyzer has been hitting the road , air and studio to bring his brand of guitar driven blues around the globe.
With 12 records, 1 DVD , 2 Junos and 7 Maple Blues Awards, de Keyzer delivers the goods wherever, whenever he performs. Playing over 100 shows a year, de Keyzer’s music is steeped in Chicago blues, London England’s (de Keyzer’s birth place) blues rock, Detroit’s Motown, Muscle Shoals deep soul, Memphis’ rock and roll, and Philadelphia’s funky soul jazz .
De Keyzer knows first hand as he has played with many first generation pioneers of these sounds and styles, Bo Diddley, Otis Rush, Etta James, King Biscuit Boy and Ronnie Hawkins to name a few. His latest recording TRIBUTE (2020) features twelve rousing new original blues, rock and soul songs and pays tribute to the great blues and rock guitar masters, singers and song writers de Keyzer has been influenced and inspired by through the years. A tour de force by an artist at his peak powers.
Quiet Talkers – Is the third release from London, Ontario born singer/songwriter Ken Yates.
Reuniting with Jim Bryson, who produced Yates’s 2016 release Huntsville, (which won two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Songwriter of the Year and New Artist of the Year), Quiet Talkers is a dark, introspective step away from acoustic, guitar-driven, folk songs, yet still maintains Yates’ signature guitar style and lyrics that never waste time getting to the point.
After almost a decade of extensive touring, supporting artists like Passenger, Stu Larsen, Rose Cousins and Jenn Grant, Yates is starting to find peace in his role as an independent artist. “Lately I’ve been able to take a step back and look at all the things I’ve been able to achieve almost purely on my own, and I’m starting to appreciate the small victories now”.
Says Yates, “This by far my most personal album to date. I’ve always been better at observing than being a part of the action, so I like to think of this collection of songs as “thoughts from the quietest person in the room”. If Huntsville was about his experiences on the road, Quiet Talkers is about coming home, facing the monsters hiding under the bed – or in some cases, the monsters hiding in plain sight.
Lynne Hanson is a Canadian singer-songwriter based in Ottawa, Ontario who has released seven albums and has toured internationally.
After performing with Shane Simpson from 2000 to 2005, she launched her solo songwriting career with the release of her first album, Things I Miss in 2006, followed by Eleven Months (2008) and Once the Sun Goes Down (2010). Her fourth studio album River of Sand was produced by Juno-award-winning songwriter Lynn Miles, and released in September 2014 on Continental Song City by the Dutch record label CRS.
In 2010 she was the winner of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award for her song "Rest of My Days" and in 2009 was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the New/Emerging Artist category. Hanson was a New Folk Finalist at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2009.
She has toured across Canada and internationally as a solo artist. She has toured in Europe and the Southern US with fellow Canadian songwriter Lynn Miles, and the United Kingdom and Ireland as support for Grammy-nominated Nashville based songwriters Steve Forbert in October 2012 and Gretchen Peters in March 2012. In 2014, she performed at the CBC Canada Day Songwriters' Circle.
Lynne also collaborates with Lynn Miles in the band project The LYNNeS, who released their debut album Heartbreak Song for the Radio in 2018. In 2018 The LYNNeS were nominated for 5 Canadian Folk Music Awards, winning English Songwriter of the Year and Ensemble of the Year.
Lynne's latest release ' Just Words ' was met with critical acclaim. It's her 7th studio album. Produced by Jim Bryson. Recorded at North of Princess, Kingston, Ontario and Fixed Hinge Studio, Stittsville, Ontario.
The song ' Higher Ground ' from the album was chosen as Blues & Roots Radio's International Song Contest 2019 overall winner by an international panel of jurors from the station based in Canada, the USA, the UK, Europe, and Australia.
On his new album Drifters, Edmonton, Alberta singer/songwriter Joe Nolan continues a remarkable creative run over the past two years, getting down to the bone with a 10-track predominantly acoustic collection, his first to be released in partnership with Canadian roots music label Fallen Tree Records.
Nolan, who has been heralded by outlets such as the Globe & Mail and No Depression as a roots rock wunderkind, is a Canadian star to watch out for in 2020 as he continues to build upon the a massive year that came in the wake of his 2018 independently released album Cry Baby. Over that time, Nolan played over 175 shows across North America and six European countries, most while traveling in his faithful 2003 Dodge Caravan. Along the way he also recorded the EP Rootsy House Sessions in Sweden, and signed deals with Mongrel Music Agency (Chuck Prophet, Lake Street Dive), as well as European label Rootsy Records (John Prine, Patti Griffin, Anderson East). His work also earned the Cobalt Prize for songwriting at the 2018 Maple Blues Awards, as well as Blues Artist Of The Year at the Edmonton Music Awards. Furthermore, Nolan was nominated for Roots Solo Artist Of The Year at Breakout West 2019, capping off a truly momentous comeback, which is still in its early stages.
Drifters begins the next leg of that journey, made at Riverdale Recorders in Edmonton with engineer Scott Franchuk, which takes fresh material written in the midst of touring and combines them with songs that date back to Nolan’s late teens. However, the common thread among them is reflected in the album’s title: songs of longing, wanderlust and lost love.
“I wanted to keep it as stripped down as possible,” Nolan says. “We recorded most of it to my Tascam 2-track reel-to-reel in an attempt to make something that resembled the sounds of my favorite records from the ‘70s with that real warm tape sound and vibe. I also have always wanted to collaborate with guitarist Kevin Breit [Norah Jones] and he graciously added some beautiful touches to this album.”
In the past, Nolan has stated that his definition of rock ‘n roll is an artist letting their heart bleed on and off stage, without any fear. There’s probably no better way to describe Drifters, as on it Nolan once again demonstrates a willingness to venture deeply into the dark corners of his psyche. It’s a trait that puts him in good company with artists he has shared stages with over the past decade, from Wilco and Shakey Graves to The Strumbellas and Hawksley Workman. He may be categorized as a roots artist, but Nolan never wants that tag to define him completely. By drawing inspiration from vintage rock ‘n roll, blues, country and punk, he intends to keep pushing boundaries with every record he makes.
“I’m feeling as if I’m becoming much more myself, and being true to who I am,” Nolan says. “I have become a better listener and I have less fear of what people think. I am doing what I love, making music, and if I can continue to do that then for me, that’s success.”