Hello music lovers !
I want to wish my American friends and listeners a Happy Thanksgiving weekend ... Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot !
It;s the time of year when I reflect a lot on what's past and what may lie ahead in the New Year, a time when I think back on all the great music that has landed on our desk, 2017 was a phenomenal year for the standard and number of independent releases from here in Canada and around the world.
There was a time, a few years ago, we thought of doing a Blues & Roots Radio award show for music in different genres, we thought at the time it would be a way of getting the best releases to everyone's ears if we could work out a way to do it in a fair manner, I'm glad we decided to stay away from doing so. In my opinion unless the awards are decided upon by a jury with integrity then it really demeans the whole process, and to be honest, it's only an opinion and matter of taste of the individuals at the time. We get so many fantastic releases from all genres that it would be impossible to get that down to a winner in any category.
I also get disheartened by stories of artists sending emails to panelists asking if they would nominate their album for awards, yes indeed it does happen, lets face it, if an album is good enough it will be nominated, there should be no need to put that sort of pressure on a member of a jury, any artist doing so should be ashamed of themselves.
Then of course you have awards that throw the choice out to the public, what a crap shoot that is, if artists are smart they have a street team working on their behalf and win with lots of votes, but does that really make it the best album, again it's a matter of choice of individuals at the time. There are many awards all over the world, from radio show awards to station awards, magazine awards, organizational awards and the list goes on.
What I did for a few years on my own personal website was pick forty albums from the year, my own personal choices, but this year that forty could well become sixty or eighty. There is such a depth of talent out there I am incredibly lucky to receive these creations and very grateful to have the opportunity to share these with our listeners.
Three years ago we built shelving to house some of the albums in our library, we had a couple of hundred at the time, but after the launch of the station we were receiving almost twenty new albums a week and many more at conferences from across the country.
The shelving is now full with over four thousand CD's, we have the same number if not more in digital downloads on external drives, we are currently working out a way to store whatever comes to us in the future in a way that they are all easily accessible, we may need to move studio space soon.
So here goes .... I will start this week and continue for the next few weeks with my personal recommendations for Christmas stocking fillers, I highly recommend the releases and have included links to reviews that have been done this year with links from there to the artists website in case you want to explore further ... It is a relatively inexpensive present in the grand scheme of things and a great way to help independent artists maintain their living, this time of year through to February gigs become thin on the ground and every sale helps.
STEPHEN FEARING - EVERY SOUL'S A SAILOR
Stephen won Contemporary Songwriter Of The Year at The Canadian Folk Music Awards for this album just last weekend.
I was lucky enough to interview Stephen during his release tour in the early part of 2017 when he was in Ontario and got fantastic insight into the making of the album, you can listen to the entire conversation by clicking the button below
My review of the album can be found by clicking the button below
" With so many projects in his arsenal, as a solo artist, with Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and with Andy White it is easy to see where he can pull influences and soundscapes from, there is a touch of all of the above in this album, but the one commonality is the involvement and genius that is Stephen Fearing, everyone will identify with the songs on a personal level throughout, and the gift again becomes apparent, Stephen Fearing has the gift to write what he feels, the gift to write what you and I feel, the gift to write what we may want to say but are not quite sure how, he has given us the gift of rolling on the deep, images of love that take us to places of understanding about the human soul and the beauty of perfectly loving someone, images also of unrequited love that take us to new places of understanding about the potential and often very real pain and anguish of human soul caused by another person. " - Stevie Connor
THE BARROWDOWNS - COME WHAT MAY COME
The debut album from Halifax based The Barrowdowns has delivered an impressive introduction to what they are capable of.
" Stand out tracks if I was pushed to choose any would be ' Landlocked ', ' Mocking Bird ' and ' A Living Wage ' - god I love the banjo - but you can add and subtract any number if not all of the above as there is not a bad track on this release. The hardest part of putting the finishing touches to an album is the placement of tracks in a cohesive running order, The Barrowdowns have nailed it with each track flowing seamlessly together in a gilt edged musical journey with hauntingly beautiful melodies and an incredible gift for timing and change in direction..... I predict you are going to be hearing a lot of great things about the band if they keep on this path and I truly believe that The Barrowdowns have just laid claim to many big stages across Canada and beyond with this release. " - Stevie Connor
GLENN SKUTHORPE - SEE MY WORLD
The album is a sonic soundscape of what Blues & Roots Radio is all about, Glenn draws from a wide range of influences and they are all on this album in a superbly crafted piece of work. I was honoured that Glenn and his manager Katie Symes took time out of their touring schedule to spend the afternoon with us shortly after we arrived in Melbourne, Australia earlier this year. Glenn is not only an amazing songwriter and musician he is also a wonderful human being, he invited us to go on tour with him and he asked if he could show us HIS Australia, he is a proud Nhunggabarra, Kooma, Muruwari man and we took it as a great honour that he would invite us to do so, we hope we can make the trip back down there and travel into the bush with Glenn, if not he is planning a tour of Canada in 2018 and we will see him here for sure.
Philip Bridle from the Blues & Roots Radio review team did a review of the album that can be read at the link below in full.
" He describes his genre as blues, roots, country and folk and oh yes, all of that is to be found on this album. Although blues is a powerful theme in the music, the album has an uplifting feel and I often found myself smiling. All of the instrumentation is of the highest calibre, and Glenn is a master of his guitar." - Philip Bridle
THORNETTA DAVIS - HONEST WOMAN
An absolutely stunning album from start to finish, Thornetta is a rare talent, multi award winning and rightly crowned ' Detroit's Queen Of The Blues '
" You will thank me for introducing you, if you are not already familiar, to an artist who embodies all the major styles of African American music, think of Bessy Smith, Aretha Franklin and Big Mama Thornton rolled into one. A Queen in most instances is the female ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position through right of birth, Thornetta Davis has inherited the rich culture of Detroit's past music scene through birth, the independent state in this case is her world, and she invites you into it on ' Honest Woman ' where she lays out her past and present..... She is regal and majestic, a truly honest woman, she holds the crown ' Detroit's Queen Of The Blues ' and Thornetta Davis rules ! " - Stevie Connor
Read th full album review at the link below
JONINA ARA - REMEMBER
A wonderful artist to be introduced to from Iceland by Philip Bridle, I was totally unaware of the amazing talent and musical culture on an island so small, this album made me sit up and take notice.
" She ( Jonina ) studied at Iceland’s most prestigious vocal school before moving on to Denmark to study guitar and studio technique, and then to the Musician’s Institute of Los Angeles for further vocal studies and their Independent Artists Program....
This considerable training is very evident in the quality of her work, and following her first EP in 2013, her first full album of ten songs, ‘Remember’ has now been released. It’s a delightful mix of tracks, from radio friendly songs that hook the listener within a few bars with their bright rhythmic rock beat to beautifully introspective songs that are lyrics led. One song is in the Icelandic tongue which deserves special mention later." - Philip Bridle
Read the full album review at the link
MIKE BIGGAR - GO ALL IN
Mike won Blues Artist Of The Year at The New Brunswick Music Awards 2017 and deservedly so, he is a hard working guy full of amazing talent and he makes me laugh a lot. We sat down before a gig in Toronto in March this year to talk about the album and more, you can listen to the entire conversation by clicking the link below
Anyone who knows me well will know that I have become a huge fan of Mike, and we have actually become good friends too over the last year or so. He is knockout live and this album is brilliant. He is currently lining up for his Christmas tour across the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, his album of Christmas tunes is awesome too.
" If you are not familiar with Mike Biggar and his music this is the album that will get you acquainted, it is in my mind a masterpiece, showcasing not only his songwriting skills but with close listening demonstrates his ear for production containing many delicate touches of brilliance within. Listen to track one ' Blood From A Stone ' and behind the music you'll hear a gospel like incantation, it's spell binding and an incredibly subtle yet genius touch, fitting perfectly the bluesy slide guitar that hooks you right in above the stomp box beat that carries it, there are many more touches like it throughout. " - Stevie Connor
I hope you find something that you might like out of the suggestions this week, more to come next week.
Have a great one !