Craig Mills Introduces Us To Five Artists
You Should Get To Know
Craig literally grew up in his Dad's highway bar at Notre Dame Junction about 10 minutes from his hometown of Lewisporte, Newfoundland. The jukebox was full of Don Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones and other outlaws a young kid wasn't supposed to like. He never outgrew that music even when he discovered Petty, Springsteen and Red Rider as a teenager.
Then two shows opened up a whole new world. His first concert was the Wonderful Grand Band fronted by Ron Hynes in his local movie theatre followed by Figgy Duff playing his high school and those two shows opened up his ears, mind and heart to Celtic, trad, and Newfoundland music. Craig loved all of it and still does.
He took a recording Arts program and ended up in Hong Kong working for a concert promotion company in the early 90s. He worked on mostly bringing cover bands and those that had long past their expiry dates to the territory and loved every second of it. Unfortunately when Hong Kong was about to be handed to China that opportunity suddenly ended and he moved back to Canada.
Craig then decided to move on from the music world after he discovered a lot of people wanted him to work for them, but not many wanted to pay him.
He started listening to Internet radio and thought, with his experience and knowledge of music, why couldn't he do this? Craig sent an email to a local station with an idea for an east coast music program built around coal miners, lighthouses and shipwrecks. He was asked to drop by and play some music and do some radio intros.
That show concept was the Eastern Passage, which became one of the original shows on Blues and Roots Radio. However, Being geographically restricted with the show, he also wanted to play some of that outlaw country he grew up with and other contemporary singer, songwriters, music he was listening to, and so he approached Stevie Connor at Blues & Roots Radio about the Lost Highway, which debuted 3 years ago and is exclusive to the station. Both shows are still going strong.
A long time juror in multiple categories for the East Coast Music Awards, Blues & Roots Radio's International Song contest, as well as a participant in York University's study into programming for Community, Campus and Native radio stations, Craig still loves introducing his listeners to great new music and artists from the maritimes region of Canada on The Eastern Passage, and from around the world on The Lost Highway.
Unmistakably Nordic in flavour, Sofia Talvik somehow still conforms to American interpretations of her own original music, a North Sea siren blending sparkle and melancholy. A veteran performer with 7 full length albums as well as numerous EPs, singles and tours behind her.
Growing up in Sweden her music has always had a special tint of her Scandinavian heritage, making her a favourite among music lovers, but her 16 month, and 37 state long tour, through the USA (in an RV) has moved her music closer to the Americana tradition. The adventure on the road spurred a lot of emotions, both those of triumph and joy, but also those of self doubt and defeat – all of which found their way into the songs of her 2015 album ”Big Sky Country”.
Living like a musical nomad, moving from place to place, slowly but steadily building her audience through her heartfelt and personal performances she got to experience the USA in a way few people do. The people she met opened their homes and hearts to her and some of them even made it into her songs. But the new album is not a diary from her tour, it’s more of a storybook of emotions, new and old in which everyone can find their own place.
The latest album “Paws of a Bear” released in September 2019 gained a lot of critical acclaim in both the U.S and Europe, charting on the top lists of U.S Folk Radio, Roots Music Report and Euro Americana Charts. The first single “Take Me Home” stayed in the top 10 of U.S Folk Radio Charts for several months. Many of the songs of the album are on the theme of home and identity.
MIKE McKENNA Jr.
Canadian folk/americana singer-songwriter Mike McKenna Jr. enchants his audience with his raspy, intimate voice and captivating storytelling. Hailing from Cape Breton, NS, Mike now resides in Montreal, QC, but continues to bring us the nostalgia of home through carefully chosen poems, protest songs, and true stories about life and death in Nova Scotia’s coastal, working-class communities.
Known for his powerful lyricism and intricate musicianship, Mike’s latest record 'At The Edge of the World (2020)' was met by incredible support with features in Spotify Editorial playlists including Renegade Folk and Contemporary Folk, on Mahogany’s YouTube playlist, in The Bluegrass Situation, Americana UK, Canadian Beats, Roots Music Canada, The East and more.
Produced by 23-year-old Berklee graduate, Victoria’s Quinn Bachand (Rosier, Kittel & Co, Brishen) along with the talented hands of Jon Anderson (Andy Shauf, Rosier, Foxwarren) on mixing and Grammy-nominee Philip Shaw Bova (Father John Misty, Feist, Bahamas) on mastering, the album delivers a fuller, livelier set of tracks than his previous. Mike’s incredibly raw, soulful vocals are surrounded by a beautiful mix of electric and bass guitar, along with an atmospheric backdrop of strings, pedal-steel and drums.
Mike has had the opportunity to play renowned festivals and venues touring North America such as RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, Montreal Folk Fest sur le Canal, Vancouver Island Music Fest, Rockwood Music Hall, National Arts Centre, Club Passim among others and has shared the stage with the likes of Hawksley Workman, William Prince, Michael Daves, Ashley MacIsaac, Old Man Luedecke, Good Lovelies and more.
Steven is an extremely gifted songwriter, singer and award-winning producer with 5 critically acclaimed recordings to his credit. He's been a repeat finalist in the International Songwriting Competition, an ECMA winner and three-time nominee, and twice won Producer of the Year from Music Nova Scotia.
Steven Bowers writes songs that are as hooky as they are thoughtful, with a novelist’s grasp of the human condition, and a melody junkie’s thirst for pretty sounds. He was born in Baie Verte, Newfoundland, Canada living now on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Jon Brooks writes songs to calm those who've looked into and seen what is in their hearts; he also writes songs to terrify those who’ve not. Jon has the dubious honour of owning the record for the most nominations from The Canadian Folk Music Awards in the category of English Songwriter of the Year (2007/2009/2012/2015). In 2010 he became the 4th Canadian since 1975 to win the prestigious New Folk Award at The Kerrville Folk Festival.
His seventh and latest album, Moth Nor Rust II, (Fallen Tree Records, 13.9.2019), revisits his 2009 solo acoustic set, Moth Nor Rust, with 10 years of artistic maturity and with his new band, The Outskirts of Approval. The album, a fan favourite long out of print, begins with the idea that whatever makes us happily human happens also to be intangible: love, hope, trust, forgiveness, vigilance, faith, curiosity, memory, inspiration, courage, wonder and wonder’s paradoxical willingness to accept and embrace the ineffable and the unknown.
Jon Brooks & The Outskirts of Approval have an uncanny way of gently directing their audiences’ eyes both inward and outward on all our current existential fears and as well toward all that neither moth nor rust can touch. Moth Nor Rust II was produced by the original engineer, Jason LaPrade and co-produced by Brooks’ longtime friend, Neil Cruickshank. In Jon’s words, ‘The song is an artform that operates in time and 10 years time has a way of transforming the songs in ways worthy of rerecording.’
The Outskirts of Approval include Joe Ernewein (electric guitar), John Showman (violin), and Vivienne Wilder (upright bass and vocals).
Austin Lucas is a punk journeyman, activist and songwriter from Bloomington, Indiana. Consumed by an overdeveloped sense of wanderlust as a young person, Austin spent his formative years in the driver’s seat of various beat-up Ford Econolines. Burning through countless miles and living the world over, he’s made his home everywhere from the American West Coast to the Czech Republic.
As a young person, Austin worshipped a diverse mixture of Classic Rock, Country, Punk, Psychedelic Folk and Mountain Music, and has made a career by successfully fusing these disparate influences into something uniquely his own. Emerging as a prominent and revered talent among his fans and peers, Austin has stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the most recognizable icons of Folk, Punk, Indie, Country and Americana, all the while uplifting the traditions of Roots Music and holding true to the attitude and ethics of political DIY Punk and Indie music as the lifeblood that runs through his veins.
Releasing albums since 2006, Austin Lucas has been a fixture in the worlds of Alternative Country and Folk Punk for nearly two decades, having sang alongside and toured with everyone from Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Ray Price, Brent Cobb, Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Dawes, Langhorne Slim, Joe Pug, John Moreland, Lucero and many others. To hear Austin Lucas or see him live is to discover the type of well-kept secret that can only stay that way for so long.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown Austin Lucas has sheltered in place in Mainz, Germany. Although growing homesick far away from his home and family in Indiana, he has successfully used this extra time and inspired energy to prove that it’s impossible to keep a good troubadour down, writing and recording songs for his forthcoming album, “Alive In The Hot Zone!”.
More artists from around the world you should get to know