Home Opinion Heather’s 2021 holiday love letter to the Roots Music Canada family

Heather’s 2021 holiday love letter to the Roots Music Canada family


As I write this, it feels as though we’re capping off a very sobering holiday season.

Like you, perhaps, I went into this fall thinking we were seeing the end of COVID-related restrictions – that vaccines would deliver us from live music purgatory, and by next summer, Roots Music Canada would be back to doing wall-to-wall festival coverage and preparing for the Folk Music Ontario conference in the fall.

And now here we are back to event postponements, restrictions on concert capacities, and a dearth of effective vaccines – because, let’s face it, they aren’t that effective against Omicron.

Only now there seems to be even less certainty over if and when this will ever be “over over.”

I miss covering festivals.

I miss going to conferences.

I miss hugging you all.

And today, I also miss the Finnish Labour Temple, the grand 111-year-old building in my adopted hometown of Thunder Bay that served for decades as a homebase for leftist organizing – and served more recently as the concert venue for the Sleeping Giant Folk Music Society – which was destroyed in a spectacular fire two nights ago.

It feels as though the universe is saying, “Stop being so attached to what used to be.”

As always, it fees like artists are showing us the way, demonstrating how to adapt, innovate, serve, create and move forward in the midst of what feels like chaos.

Just last week, more than 25 artists raised more than $20,000 for flood relief in B.C. and Nova Scotia, even as many of them likely didn’t know where their own next pay cheque would come from. Allison Russell released a triumphant solo debut this year chronicling how art helped her break free from a childhood destroyed by abuse – and her bravery was rewarded with three Grammy nominations. The Indigenous renaissance continued, marked by gorgeous new songs and albums from artists like Laura Niquay and Matt Epp and Isaac Murdoch. And there was a constant stream of great new music to discover from new artists and old favourites.

We’ve been doing our best to showcase their incredible output once again this year on Roots Music Canada, and I’m so grateful to have a wonderful team of colleagues who are helping make it all happen.

Jan Vanderhorst has been bringing us wonderful features just about every week derived from interviews he does for his radio show. Richard Barry has jumped in to help review more albums out of a desire to keep up the legacy of Penguin Eggs. Paul Corby and Elizabeth Szekeres continue to be vital contributors and confidants, and we relied again this year on a vast team of occasional contributors too.

Many new faces have joined us this year, including Al Parrish, Marie Gage and Christine Bode. James Gordon contributed some hilarious tales from the road. Tim Readman, Ruth Schweitzer and David Litvak all took time away from their roles as professional writers to contribute to Roots Music Canada as volunteers. And we were blessed with two terrific interns this year from Carleton University: Warren Reid and Sarah O’Leary.

To all of you who wrote for Roots Music Canada, thank you for helping get the word out on great new music and for keeping the conversation going in the midst of this pandemic.

To those of you who read us, thank you for your commitment to new Canadian music. You are the reason we do what we do. As the pandemic has worn on, many people have taken refuge in the familiar. But you, who continue to seek out new music, watch new performances and follow the latest news are helping to keep the arts alive.

And to those of you who continue to fund us, some of whom are stretching to do so, we literally could not do this without you. Roots Music Canada takes more time to manage than a reasonable person could ever volunteer. Your support is what has made it possible for me to keep running the site through times of illness, family strife, and, of course, pandemic-related financial insecurity.

I can’t thank you enough for giving me the privilege of doing this work each day. I’m sending my love and virtual hugs to each and every one of you.

Have the best possible Christmas and/or holiday season you can.

Roll credits!

The founders: Andy Frank and David Newland

The funders:

  • James Keelaghan
  • Tony Belcourt
  • Fran Reid
  • Taivi
  • David Ostrosser
  • Margaret Almack
  • Isabel Fryszberg
  • Jan Vanderhorst
  • Jon Janzen
  • Melanie Peterson
  • Barry Payne
  • Valley Hennell
  • Rebecca Emms
  • Heather Daley
  • Ken Whiteley
  • Eric Alper
  • Monica Lee
  • Tannis Slimmon
  • Dirk DeBoer
  • Mary Milne
  • Jamie Oppenheimer
  • David Frisch
  • Keri Latimer
  • Adrian Gross
  • Christa Couture
  • Paula Danylevich
  • The Bombadils
  • Barrie Martin
  • Trespass Music
  • Mike McCormick
  • Paul Jorgenson
  • Sandra Smith
  • Spincount
  • Ben Sures
  • Chris White
  • Lindsay Hancock
  • Suzie Vinnick
  • Jason Schneider
  • Pascal Gemme
  • Eve Goldberg
  • Arthur McGregor
  • Shari Ulrich
  • Rachel Barreca
  • Lenka Lichtenberg
  • Bernie Finkelstein
  • Bottom Line Productions
  • The Northern Lights Folk Club
  • Speak Music
  • Grit Laskin
  • True North Records
  • Watson Entertainment

The mascot (and titular editor): Gordy the Moose

The writers (past and present):

  • Gary 17
  • Julian Abraham
  • Leslie Alexander
  • Jeffrey Barrett
  • Christine Bode
  • Meaghan Brackenbury
  • Allison Brown
  • Zoe Buscho
  • Shari Campbell
  • Liv Cazzola
  • Ashley Condon
  • Brooklyn Connolly
  • Alison Corbett
  • Paul Corby
  • Val Cormier
  • Tom Coxworth
  • Nicole Lisa Craig
  • Levi Cuss
  • Annette Donaghy
  • Katerina Dulay
  • Jane Eamon
  • Christophe Elie
  • Lindsay Ferguson
  • Ted Ferris
  • Richard Flohil
  • Doris Folkens
  • Michelle Footz
  • Josh Forbes
  • Marie Gage
  • Howard Gladstone
  • James Gordon
  • Troy Greencorn
  • Jan Hall
  • John Wort Hannam
  • Deborah Holland
  • KC Hoard
  • Erika Ibrahim
  • Jennifer Ives
  • Meral Mohammad Jamal
  • Phoenix Lazare
  • Sean Leahy
  • Bob LeDrew
  • Lenka Lichtenberg
  • David Litvak
  • Sarah MacDonald
  • Mike McCormick
  • Arthur McGregor
  • Linda McRae
  • Bayleigh Marelj
  • Jim Marino
  • Bob Mersereau
  • Joanna Mills
  • Keith and Heather Nicol
  • Sarah O’Leary
  • Jamie Oppenheimer
  • Al Parrish
  • Barry Payne
  • Leonard Poole
  • Tim Readman
  • Mike Regenstreif
  • Warren Reid
  • Penny Rose
  • Daniel Rosenberg
  • Sylvia Siemens
  • Elizabeth Szekeres
  • Ian Tamblyn
  • Jan Vanderhorst
  • Lauren Trelford
  • Broose Tulloch
  • Shari Ulrich
  • Meaghan Walsh
  • Yael Wand
  • Lillian Wauthier
  • Sarah Williscraft
  • Jenny Whiteley
  • Adam Hunter
  • Jeffrey Barrett
  • Erika Ibrahim
  • Shaelee Stearns
  • Huyen Nguyen
  • Ruth Schweitzer

The designer: Amanda Rheaume

The developer: Jessica Wong

The Gordy the Moose illustrator and logo creator: Michael Hepher



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