Top roots music websites

In our own coverage of Canadian roots over the past while, we’ve been surprised at how few good online resources are available.

So we asked Adrian Martin – a musician who knows his way around the web – to compile a list of 10 great resources every roots music fan in Canada should check out.

The criteria for Adrian’s picks include high quality audio/visual, layout and design, ease of use and navigability, editorial content and other interesting features.  Here are his Top 10 in no specific order, with Adrian’s very helpful notes.

CBC Radio 3

While one usually thinks of CBC radio 3 as a hipster haven, pandering to the Arcade Fire crowd, its exhaustive feature set and depth give it my wholehearted recommendation. Navigating to the on-demand section of the website will reveal an intuitive interface profiling Canadian acts by genre. Here, you can find categories like Roots & Folk, Aboriginal, Blues and more. Each genre profiles relevant articles, daily, weekly and yearly most played lists, user created playlists and tonnes of social options. Artists can also upload their own music to the site, giving you access to even the most obscure Canadian acts.

Southern Souls

Created and maintained solely by videographer Mitch Fillion, Southern Souls is a Canadian video blog modelled after the popular Black Cab Sessions and Take Away Shows. Videos feature Canadian musicians exploring their “roots” by playing stripped down acoustic sets in organic environments – whether that be the kitchen, sidewalk or outdoors.  Through these settings, Fillion brings out performances that feel truly captivating and genuine. What really shines with this site is its super high quality video, audio and cinematography. Add this to a super intuitive and attractive layout and Southern Souls gets my vote.

CKUA Radio

I discovered this Alberta based, community-supported radio network recently and am really digging what they have to offer. Though this isn’t a roots only site, their wide programming, from The Celtic Show to World Spinning and Folk Routes dig deep into the Albertan and Canadian scenes. Along with an attractive layout, CKUA has some really handy features that make them stand out. For those needing some help sorting through the new music, CKUA offers a number of helpful Top 100, Announcer Top 10 and CD of the Week type features.  They also have a handy and extensive back catalogue of their playlists if you didn’t catch the name of a particular tune or artist.

Canadian Blues

You can tell the guys at CanadianBlues.com are really passionate about their craft. This site is filled with Blog posts, features, news, artist spotlights and other written content. They’ve also included an extensive videos section, up-to-date concert listings, and helpful tips on when and where to catch blues on the radio. If you don’t mind the 1998 era layout, this site will keep you up-to-date on all things Canadian blues.

CBC Radio 2

Although it seems a little redundant to list both radio 3 and 2, their offerings are different enough to warrant a second spot on my list. The best part of radio 2 is by far the Concerts on Demand. This section allows you to relive or discover amazing concerts like the recent and intimate If you Could Read My Mind with Jim Cuddy and Ian Tyson at the George Weston Recital Hall in Toronto. If you’re a regular listener of the Deep Roots radio show, you can catch past episodes in the programs section.

NPR Music

NPR is the largest government funded public radio network in America. Similar to CBC radio 2, we recommend checking out the Mountain Stage program on their Concerts on Demand section.  Highly recommended for the techies out there, NPR also has a great mobile integration, podcasts and twitter streams.

Triple j Roots n’ All

For something a little different, check out this streaming and on demand site from Australia. Listen live, or to archived shows and catch recommendations from the host. If you like what you hear, head over to their CBC radio 3-like site Triple J Unearthed to look up songs and artists. Be sure to pick up lots of free downloads from the Unearthed section. Try this site if you want to expand your roots intake beyond North American style folk and Americana.

The Alternate Root

Online magazine-style site The Alternate Root certainly delivers the goods. The sheer volume and quality of editorial content make this site a must for any roots fan. Daily updated articles will keep you coming back, but I also recommend the stand-out video section featuring interviews, music videos and in-studio performances.

Music City Roots

If you want a daily taste of Nashville, look no further than Music City Roots. This site features a weekly Live Stream of the who’s who of roots from the well-known Nashville venue The Loveless Cafe. The videos are all high quality and each run over 2 hours long. You also can browse past shows, read their blog or check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to catch Canadian artist Ron Sexsmith representing the North as he headlines Music City Roots on February 16th 2011.

Folk Alley

Folk Alley is undoubtedly the largest and most well-known internet folk radio station. Broadcast out of Kent, Ohio, the station is affiliated with NPR. On any given day you’ll hear the most popular and most obscure artists from both Canada and the US. Consider joining their strong online community, which grants lots of great perks to subscribing members.

Of course, I know I’ve probably missed some of your favourite online roots sites, so I encourage you to add your favourites to the comment section. Canadian owned sites are preferred, but international and genre-specific sites are encouraged too.

Adrian Martin is an aspiring digital marketer and musician. You can learn more about him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you are enjoying this content, please take a second to support Roots Music Canada on Patreon!

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Bryan S. 27 January, 2011 at 14:40

    This is a great list of resources for the roots music fan like myself. I am a regular CBC Radio 3 listener (I use the username ‘pawistik’) and I really enjoy finding roots musicians there. I am able to create and share playlists and CBC R3 has become a major part of my radio and music listening. Unfortunately, there are many folk or roots musicians who do not take advantage of this venue to promote themselves. I would certainly like to see this better utilized by the roots community.

    I am pretty familiar with CKUA & CBC R2 and listen online more or less regularly. I look forward to checking out the other links.


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