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Today we are 5 and still going strong. Thank you from Roots Music Canada

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Allow me to take you back with me to the spring of 2017.

I’m in the food court at St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto while visiting a friend who’s been hospitalized for heart issues.

I’m talking on the phone to Bill Garrett, then of Borealis Records.

He’d been talking to David Newland and Andy Frank about the possibility of buying the assets of Roots Music Canada, the website they had launched on Gordon Lightfoot’s birthday back in 2009 – which had since become dormant, owing to Andy’s battle with cancer and David’s moving out of the city and expanding his family.

I’d talked to Andy about this very thing at a previous edition of the Folk Music Ontario conference, but I’d set it aside to focus on some health issues of my own.

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Now Bill and I were seeing if perhaps we could work together on a revival of the site.

A few days later, he emails me and tells me he’s entrusting it to me.

No pressure or anything.

I barely knew how to operate WordPress, the only free platform flexible enough for the site.

My computer skills were limited to rudimentary HTML.

They still are.

Roots Music Canada writer Elizabeth Szekeres, managing editor Heather Kitching and photographer Leonard Poole in the Lennon/Ono suite at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth during Folk Alliance in Montreal.

But a whole bunch of you – labels, fans, artists, publicists – entrusted me with your faith and your Patreon dollars.

Dozens of you volunteered to write.

And we launched on April 3, 2018.

(We’re celebrating our anniversary a day late because we wanted to give the CFMA winners their moment in the sun.)

The goal was a modest one: to be sustainable.

We weren’t out to build a regular video interview program like Andy and David did with the site back in 2009.

We weren’t out to build a 24-hour streaming radio station like Andy did a few years later.

Our sole ambition was to be a consistent presence that the Canadian roots community could rely on, day in and day out, with the limited funds that roots organizations, roots artists and roots fans could offer to sustain such a thing.

Roots Music Canada writer Paul Corby and then-Folk Alliance International ED Aengus Finnan.

And I think we’ve done it.

Because here we are, five years later, still showcasing new music and reporting on the Canadian roots community at least six days a week.

And we owe it all to you.

Thank you to Andy and David for starting the whole thing.

Thank you to all of our Patrons, past and present for making this possible. We absolutely could not do this without you. Blogs and websites fail all the time because the reality of the situation is this: volunteers can only do so much. There’s a lot of grunt work that goes into organizing and editing content, paying bills and managing technical issues, and people end up having to prioritize other things when there’s no compensation. You are one hundred per cent the reason that we are still here.

James Gordon, Roots Music Canada writer Jan Vanderhorst (centre) and Garnet Rogers swap books on a Sunday morning. Photo by Kate Vanderhorst.

To all of our writers, past and present, thank you for your devotion to Canadian roots music, for all of the great articles I get to read each week as I’m putting them up on the site, and, in many cases, for your friendship. Also for the mad slumber party we had during the 2019 Folk Alliance International conference at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal.

And to our readers, thank you for each visit you make to this site to discover new music and stay connected with the Canadian roots music community. You’re the reason we do what we do. You’re the reason artists do what they do. In a world where we can access an endless array of art at our fingertips, thank you for choosing to appreciate and immerse yourself in songs.

Here’s to five more.

And yes, there will be a celebration.

Probably in the early summer.

Perhaps more than one.

Stay tuned for details.

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