It’s that time of the year again: time to look back at the most-read Roots Music Canada articles of the year. And if each year’s top 10 list can be seen as something of a statement about the kind of year it was, well, this one could’ve been better.
Our two top stories this year were obituaries, for Michael Wrycraft and Bill Bourne respectively, two giants of the Canadian roots community.
And if that weren’t enough, number four is a collection of songs by Ukrainian Canadian artists compiled in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country.
It’s not all bad news, of course. As always, we featured tons of terrific new music and brought you news about events and award winners. Shout out to Trish Klein and Ndid O for having our most-read exclusive song preview of the year!
Here’s the full top 10.
Michael Robert “A Man Called” Wrycraft, Juno-winning album designer, concert promoter, radio producer, event host and beloved personality in the Canadian folk, roots and world music scenes, died of congestive heart failure on Monday, May 16 at the age of 65.
Described as “a titan of western Canadian folk music” by music writer Michael Barclay, Bill launched his solo career in 1975 and spent his entire life in music balancing that solo work with a wildly diverse array of collaborative projects.
The Blue And Gold is a musical collaboration between Juno-nominated WCMA winner Year’ Ndidi O and folk-roots guitarist and banjo player Trish Klein (The Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford, Po’ Girl), which celebrates the musical artistry and legacy of pioneering female blues musicians.
Canada has the largest Ukrainian population in the world outside of Ukraine and Russia, so it stands to reason that we’d also have some great Ukrainian bands.
But Ukrainian music has never really had a moment in the sun in the global music scene the way other styles have.
Now seems like a good time to change all that.
Celebrating their tenth anniversary with what is arguably their finest work to date, the band members are releasing the album tomorrow via Curve Music/Warner Music.
There’s still a misconception that the only authentic soul music came from Detroit, Memphis and Muscle Shoals. But since that heyday in the 1960s, it’s been proven repeatedly that soul music can be made anywhere and at any time, so long as the artist is able to lay themselves bare and tell their story.
Marcia Alderson lives in Collingwood, ON north of Toronto in a region commonly known as a popular weekend getaway destination for the privileged. She’s made a nice life for herself there as a real estate agent, while singing on the side in a band specializing in Motown and Bob Marley covers, the latter a nod to her Jamaican heritage.
How was this already the 17th annual Canadian Folk Music Awards?
Why, I remember when it was just a twinkle in the eyes of people like Borealis Records co-founder Grit Laskin and Penguin Eggs magazine founder and publisher Roddy Campbell.
Now Roddy’s retired, Penguin Eggs is a joyful memory and Borealis is sold to Linus Entertainment but the CFMAs remain a banner event on the Canadian roots music calendar, one that is arguably more relevant than ever before in an era when live music will likely continue to face challenges due to COVID-19.
Anyone who has followed country music over the past couple of years knows that it is experiencing a renaissance with an infusion of new voices eager to take it in new directions. That was certainly one of the goals Lawrence Maxwell set out to achieve when making his third album Ballad Of Miles, a dynamic 13-song collection encompassing a wide range of songwriting approaches.
From the outlaw-tinged opener “Listening To Keith Whitley”—a tribute to the legendary ‘80s star who tragically died young—to the sweet, John Prine-esque closer “Happy Little Life,” Lawrence’s craftsmanship shines through on every track, powered by his naturally twangy delivery.
Iskwe and Tom Wilson release their first album together, Mother Love, tomorrow.
They sing brilliantly throughout the album as it ranges from the blues to sweet indie folk to crushing Americana ballads.
Tom is the main singer-songwriter on Mother Love. He holds down writing credits on five of eight cuts, including track one, “Blue Moon Drive.” It’s a low-key blues-rock song with some slinky guitars, a simple but effective trumpet hook, and a bass vocal delivery from Tom.