Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Morning with Mike Regenstreif – CKCU – Saturday April 25, 2020

Saturday Morning is an eclectic roots-oriented program on CKCU in Ottawa heard live on Saturday mornings from 7 until 10 am (Eastern time) and then available for on-demand streaming. I am one of the four rotating hosts of Saturday Morning and base my programming on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches format I developed at CKUT in Montreal.

CKCU can be heard live at 93.1 FM in Ottawa and on the web.

This episode of Saturday Morning was prerecorded at home and be streamed on-demand at …

Rachael Sage- Open the Door
Character (MPress Records)

Tom Russell- Honky Tonk Quarantine
Unreleased – used with permission

Mary Gauthier- Mercy Now
Mercy Now (Lost Highway)
Ian Hanchet- I Shall Be Released
Dealin’ from the Bottom (of My Heart) (Ian Hanchet)
Moore & McGregor- Don’t Let Us Get Sick
Dream with Me (Ivernia)
Eliza Gilkyson- Promises to Keep
2020 (Red House)

Rachelle Garniez- My Sister and I
Gone to Glory (StorySound)
Corin Raymond- Half Past Remembered
Dirty Mansions (Local Rascal Records)
Stephen Mendel- Lucky Old Sun
Sing Me a Story (Stephen Mendel)
Missy Burgess with the Blue Train- If I Fall in Love Again
Live (Missy Burgess)

Diana Jones- Better Times will Come
Steve Forbert- Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues
Early Morning Rain (Blue Rose Music)
Tracy Grammer- If I Needed You
If I Needed You – single (Tracy Grammer)
Tom Russell & The Norwegian Wind Ensemble- Guadalupe
Aztec Jazz (Frontera)

Stephen Barry Band- Pickin’ the Blues
Live (Fix it in the Mix Music)

Extended feature: Songs of John Prine (1946-2020). The next 16 songs were written by John Prine, one of our greatest folk-rooted singer-songwriters. John passed away on April 7 from COVID-19. He was 73.

Steve Goodman & John Prine- Souvenirs
Affordable Art (Red Pajamas)
Joan Baez- Hello in There
Diamonds & Rust (A&M)
Tim Grimm- Sam Stone
Names (Wind River)
John Prine- Fish and Whistle
Souvenirs (Oh Boy)

Nicky Mehta- All the Best
Unreleased – used with permission
Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard- Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
Contenders Two: Still in the Running (Stony Plain)
Allison Brown- Angel from Montgomery
Everything That Shined (Allison Brown)
John Prine- Blue Umbrella
Souvenirs (Oh Boy)

Leo Gillespie- Aimless Love
Leo Gillespie (Leo Gillespie)
Tim & Mollie O'Brien- Unwed Fathers
Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective (Sugar Hill)
Mark Haines & Tom Leighton- That’s the Way the World Goes Round
Hand to Hand (Borealis)
John Prine- Caravan of Fools
The Tree of Forgiveness (Oh Boy)

Rob Lutes- Rocky Mountain Time
Walk in the Dark (Lucky Bear)
Bonnie Koloc- Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone
Timeless (Mr. Biscuit)
Johnny Cash- Paradise
Personal File (Columbia/Legacy)
John Prine- When I Get to Heaven
The Tree of Forgiveness (Oh Boy)

Susan Werner- House of the Rising Sun
NOLA: Susan Werner Goes to New Orleans (Sleeve Dog)
Guy Van Duser & Billy Novick- New Orleans Farewell
Lovely Sunday Afternoon (Daring)

Shelley Posen- Long, Long Tunnel
Unreleased – used with permission
Rosalie Sorrels- I Think of You
My Last Go Round (Red House)
Magpie- Old Devil Time
A Tiding (Longtail Records)
Pete Seeger & Arlo Gruthrie- Quite Early Morning
Together In Concert (Rising Son)

Deborah Holland- Will I Ever Be Loved
Fine, Thank You (Rage On Records)
Adam Karch- Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Everything Can Change (Bros)
Kat Goldman- Harvard Boys
Gypsy Girl (Kat Goldman)

Jackie Washington- The Joint is Jumpin’
The World of Jackie Washington (Borealis)
Martin, Bogan & Armstrong- Let’s Give a Party
That Old Gang of Mine/Martin, Bogan & Armstrong (Flying Fish)
Missy Burgess with the Blue Train- Basket O’ Blues
Live (Missy Burgess)
Rory Block- Prove It on Me
Prove It on Me (Stony Plain)
Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray- Little Children’s Blues
I Dream of Water (Out of the Past Music)
Ken Whiteley- Lay My Burden by the River
Calm in the Eye of the Storm (Borealis)

Andy Statman- Raw Ride
Monroe Bus (Shefa)

I’ll be hosting Saturday Morning next on May 16 (for Alan Surmachynski) and on May 23.

Find me on Twitter. @MikeRegenstreif

--Mike Regenstreif

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

John Prine 1946-2020

I was devastated tonight when the news broke that John Prine, one of the greatest of the folk-rooted singer-songwriters, had died following a battle with COVID-19 at age 73.

I met John a few times over the years. I got to hang out with him a couple of times. Saw him do a few concerts, and interviewed him a couple of times – once for radio and once for the Montreal Gazette. 

I was introduced to John backstage when he came to perform in Montreal for the first time in 2001 and mentioned that we’d met once before, about 25 years earlier. John looked me up and down and said something like, “Oh yeah, Steve Goodman introduced us at Mariposa.” He was absolutely correct.

When Sylvie and I were on vacation in Florida in December, John was doing a concert nearby at Ruth Ekerd Hall in Clearwater and we went to see him. It was a fabulous show but I didn’t try and go back to say hello because I knew that John was scheduled to be at the National Arts Centre here in Ottawa this coming July, that it would be easier to connect then. But that was before this horrible pandemic hit.

My deepest condolences to Fiona Prine, their sons, and all of John’s loved ones – and to all of us who loved his songs.

Here is my Montreal Gazette interview with John, published on April 19, 2005.

Prine in his prime

Musician and former mailman was honoured last month at Library of Congress as ‘a genuine poet of the American people’

By Mike Regenstreif

After a stint in the army in the 1960s, John Prine spent six years as a mailman in Chicago and started making up songs as a way to amuse himself as he walked his route.
He certainly couldn’t have imagined then that one day he’d be honoured as a major literary figure for his songwriting at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. But there he was last month, being described by Ted Kooser, the poet laureate of the United States, as “a truly original writer, unequaled, and a genuine poet of the American people.”

Prine was still a mailman when he wrote classic songs like Sam Stone, Hello in There, Angel from Montgomery and Illegal Smile and started playing them at open-mike nights at the Earl of Old Town, a Chicago folk club. Heard at the Earl by Kris Kristofferson, who became his champion, Prine was signed to Atlantic Records which released his self-titled debut album in 1971.

Prine’s songs have been covered by artists ranging from Bette Midler and Bonnie Raitt to Johnny Cash and Nanci Griffith. Prine’s last two albums were 1999’s In Spite of Ourselves, a collection of country standards sung as duets with a variety of women singers, and Souvenirs, a set of early Prine songs that he re-recorded in 2000.

On April 26, Prine will release Fair & Square, his first album of new material since Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings came out a decade ago. Though he rarely agrees to interviews, he spoke by phone last week from his home in Nashville.

Prine, who became a father at the age of 49, pointed to parenthood for a slowdown in his output of new material. “My two sons are 9 and 10. They were born when I went out on the road with Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings. The kids have a tendency to keep you busy.”

In writing songs for the new album, Prine had to make appointments with himself to find the time. “I used to sit around and wait for lightning to strike. But you can’t do that when you’ve got stuff to do all day with the kids.”

Something else that held Prine back for some time was a bout with neck cancer seven years ago. “I had a radical neck dissection and they had to do radiation across my throat for six weeks.”
Prine says he’s healthy now. “Things are going great. I go back once a year for a checkup and they tell me I don’t need to be there.”

The fact that Prine has owned Oh Boy Records, his own label, for 20 years also meant there wasn’t the typical record company pressure to keep the product flowing. After a series of albums in the 1970s and early-’80s for Atlantic and Asylum, Prine walked away from the majors to do Aimless Love in 1984.

“I didn’t think that the major labels were doing the same thing that I was doing. Mainly they want pop records that sell a lot and I could feel a lot of frustration with them trying to get my stuff on the radio. It was like working at a factory that you didn’t like so I decided to ... go directly to the people who were coming to the shows.”

By the time Prine did German Afternoons, his second indie album in 1986, he knew that he’d never go back to the majors. “I was in the studio singing the thing and people had already paid for it. It broke even before it came out. You can’t do that with a major label.”

Prine’s label has done so well that he’s signed several other artists to it including Janis Ian and Kristofferson, his early booster.

Prine has never shied away from confronting serious issues in his songs. Sam Stone, from his first album, tells the story of a soldier who fought in Vietnam and came home addicted to drugs.

“If somebody had asked me back then if I thought that 30 years later I’d be playing it, I’d probably have said no.”

Nor have politicians stopped leading the next generations of Sam Stones into war. In a spoken word passage from Some Humans Ain’t Human on the new album, Prine sings about how “some cowboy from Texas starts his own war in Iraq.”

Prine, whose wife, Fiona, is from Ireland, wrote the song when they were there on a family visit at the same time that President George W. Bush made his own visit to Ireland. “Tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against him and against the U.S. being in Iraq, but they hid all those people, keeping them about 15 miles from the airport.”

Like much of Prine’s output, the songs on Fair & Square feel new and unique yet instantly familiar. Whether filled with humour like Crazy as a Loon, a send-up of ephemeral fame and stardom, or a sad love song like The Moon Is Down, Prine’s lyrics are beautifully crafted and his melodies the model of perfect simplicity.

Find me on Twitter.

–Mike Regenstreif