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Canadian contributions to War and Politics

Call me a cynic, but I was skeptical about War and Politics, Volume 1. The CD struck me as a tripod with three shaky legs: a compilation record, with twenty tracks, and every one of them a protest song. I ...
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Jadea Kelly has a taste for twang

Jadea Kelly may not be the typical young woman from Whitby, Ontario. With all due respect to that bedroom community northeast of Toronto, it’s not known as a hotbed for country-tinged female folk singers. Yet here’s Jadea Kelly, making major ...
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Cowboy Junkies give Vic Chesnutt wings

How do you pay tribute to an artist dogged by demons? That’s the challenge that faced veteran Canadian alt-country ensemble Cowboy Junkies on Volume 2 of their Nomads series, ominously and aptly titled Demons. The late, lost songwriter Vic Chesnutt, ...
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Songwriters’ Circle at CMW

While the bars of Toronto are filled with the sounds of Canadian Music Week, the Interactive Music and Media Seminar is accessible only to the fortunate few who ponied up the price of the conference at the Royal York Hotel. ...
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Wistful, whimsical Shawn Clarke

Shawn Clarke calls himself a folk singer, yet he has never played a folk festival. He writes about the Big Smoke, rather than railways or highways. The path he beat to our door was through the backwoods of the internet. ...
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Singer-songwriters, ‘splain this

Mike Regenstreif over at FolkRoots/FolkBranches says Lucinda Williams‘ new album Blessed is a winner, and I don’t doubt it. She’s got a totally unique, plaintive voice, for one thing. And I admire her songwriting: she’s a careful crafter of memorable ...
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Black, white and the Memphis blues

Black History Month wrapped up yesterday, technically speaking. But then Black history isn’t limited to the calendar. That’s especially the case when it comes to roots music. I spent a few days in February in Memphis, aka the home of ...
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Twilight Hotel glows in the Woodshed

It’s a long and dusty road from Winnipeg to Austin. That’s the road the sensational duo Twilight Hotel have been traveling the past few years. Their musical origins make a great Canadian campfire story: Dave Quanbury and Brandy Zdan, both ...
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Layah Jane’s ‘Honey’ sounds sweet

Layah Jane‘s new CD, Honey could win an award for aptly-named album of the year. With a voice that’s both sweet and rich, and a delicious, deep-groove approach, Toronto artist Layah Jane has finally found her sound on this CD, ...
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Ariana Gillis shows her roots

As the daughter of a working musician, Ariana Gillis has certain advantages that must be mentioned:  a musical upbringing, familiarity with the musical life, musical mentoring, and the open doors provided by a musical parent. On the other hand, the ...