Suitcase Sam, Troy Kokol, and Rae Billing
Gordy the Moose presents some of his favourite new music from the submissions that have arrived in the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox. Submit your music to us by clicking HERE.
Suitcase Sam – Get it to Go reissue (Release date: March 29, 2019)
Suitcase Sam knows how to spin a yarn, so it’s hard to distill his true origin story from the tales told in his various bios – but it appears that he grew up in California with a passion for the music of the old south. Along the way, he was inspired by the Lomax collection and rag time; the latter influence is definitely heard on this record. Get it to Go is a reissue of the very first record Sam made after he settled in Toronto in 2010, and it’s being reissued to mark his signing to Curve Records, the label founded by former Universal A and R guy Bryan Hetherman. Curve is perhaps best known for helping break the Deep South, a band whose ironic – sorry, yes, I’m going to use that word – reimagining of old bluegrass is a fitting comparison for what Sam is doing here with old jazz, roots and ragtime. There is something performative about the way that both acts approach these genres, and, at times, listening to Sam, I couldn’t help feeling like I was listening to Adam Sandler riffing on 1920s standards. And yet, just as the Deep South have won over plenty of roots purists with their chaotic, punk rock-inspired sound, Sam has me really digging what he’s doing in a completely unironic way. He’s worth a listen for sure. Also, this video – or should I say, “short film”? – is fantastic.
See Sam live!
- July 25 – The Cameron House, Toronto, ON
Troy Kokol – “Lighthouse” (Release date: May 13, 2019)
Troy Kokol earned an Indigenous Music Award nomination for Best Folk Album for his sophomore album, Lonely Ghost, released last year, and he also won Songwriter of the Year at the YYC Music Awards. It’s easy to hear what the juries from those awards shows heard in him. This new single, “Lightbulb,” is light and catchy, and the lyrics tell a sweet story about not being afraid to fall in love again. Best of all, this graphic novel-themed animated video is just so cute. Though he may be a new name to many, Troy’s actually got major credentials as a songwriter, having written songs for and/or with Brett Kissel, Don Amero, Shane Yellowbird, and others. In fact, he won a 2008 SOCAN Award for country music as co-writer of Shane’s song “Pick Up Truck,” and he’s twice been nominated for Songwriter of the Year by the Canadian Country Music Association. So if he sounds like too good a writer to be this unknown, well, there you go.
See Troy live:
- Aug. 3 – Big Valley Jamboree, Camrose, AB
Rae Billing and CRYBABY – Still (Release date: Apr. 15, 2018)
Rae Billing helped form CRYBABY more than 20 years ago now, and it’s possible that the highlight of the band’s four-year lifespan was having its sole album named one of the Top Three Country Albums of the Year by the dearly departed Eye magazine. Since then, Rae’s moved to Hamilton and carried on as a solo artist, but a supposedly one-off reunion in 2016 for a couple of CRYBABY 20th anniversary shows has turned into a little something more – as these things are wont to do. Next thing you know, there’s a sophomore album out! Yes, just over a year ago now, the appropriately-titled Still was released, and a little over a year after that, they sent it to us here at Roots Music Canada. We’re not above being a little late on the draw getting the word out on things, especially albums that genuinely deserve a plug. And this is such an album. Rae’s resonant alto and country roots-rock sound reminds me a little of Lucinda Williams, so if you like your roots with just a little bit of an edge, have a listen.