The Northern Report Podcast aims to shine a light on emerging and existing Canadian talent as well as some of the legends still with us today. The audio companion piece to the monthly column of the same title that appears in the Honky-Tonk Times.
Grant Davidson, known professionally as Slow Leaves, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and musician. Davidson began playing guitar at age 15, inspired after discovering a Led Zeppelin II cassette tape in his older brother’s room. It was a finger-picked guitar however that would eventually form the heart of his songs.After three shoe-string budget albums under his own name, Davidson debuted as Slow Leaves in 2014 with Beauty Is So Common, followed by Enough About Me in 2017. In 2020 he released the strikingly vulnerable Shelf Life which represented the culmination of a distinctive poetic voice exploring recurring themes of romantic memory, artistic ambition, and dreams left unfulfilled. Davidson’s voice is fragile and assured. His music could exist as comfortably in the ‘70s as it does in today’s age of curated images and hollow soundbites, when vulnerability can be seen as defiance and sincerity as radical.
For more on Slow Leaves visit: www.slowleaves.com
Marie Bottrell, got her start in country music at an early age when she joined the family band. A natural performer and gifted songwriter, it didn’t take long for Marie to get noticed. At age 17 she began recording for The Mercey Brothers label and from there it was on to RCA. Beginning in the late 1970’s and into the late 1980’s, Marie maintained a tremendously busy touring schedule. During this time she was twice named Female Artist of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards. In addition to those wins were another 7 nominations by the association. For 8 consecutive years, Marie was nominated for Country Female Artist of the Year at the Juno Awards. She released five albums and charted five Top 10 singles, many of which she wrote or co-wrote and in 2010, Bottrell was named to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. I was happy to hear her story from the early days in London, Ontario, to grinding it out in smokey bars on the long road across Canada, to the dark side of the music business and where she’s at today.
For over 30 years Russell deCarle acted as bass player & lead vocalist of Canadian Country Music Hall of Famers, Prairie Oyster. Quite probably the last actual Country band to find success on commercial radio (and television) in Canada, ‘Oyster’ were awarded 6 Junos and more than 10 Canadian Country Music Awards during their illustrious career. Since his 2010 debut Solo album Under The Big Big Sky, Russell has gone on to release 3 records under his own name and has continued to tour regularly performing as a duo or with his trio in theatres, folk clubs, and house concerts all across Canada.
For more on Russell visit: www.russelldecarle.com
Proudly from the East end of Toronto, Ontario, Jerry Leger is an acclaimed Singer/Songwriter who has released an impressive amount of art.
Albums, singles, a poetry book, and later this week for his mailing list subscribers a film called, “The Apartment Show He Never Gave”. He has been called “one of Canada’s best” by Exclaim, a “gifted storyteller” by The Toronto Star and "One of the best Canadian songwriters" by Rolling Stone. Ron Sexsmith, Jim Lauderdale, and Michael Timmins (of Cowboy Junkies) are known fans and supporters of Jerry Leger.
For more on Jerry visit: www.jerryleger.com
Regarded as “Canada’s Queen of Country Music”, and for good reason.
Carroll Baker’s long and impressive list of accolades includes over 25 Juno Nominations (3x Winner), and 15+ CCMA nods (3x Winner). She is a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2009 was appointed to the Order of Canada. Her debut record, Mem’ries of Home was released on Columbia Records in 1970 and between then and 1992, Carroll went on to release 14 studio albums, charting 53 Singles on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks charts including 14 #1 hits, many of which coming from her very own pen. I was eager and so happy to hear her story from the early years in the honky-tonks to cementing herself as a bonafide Country music star.
Redd Volkaert is without question one the finest guitar pickers of his generation. His work in Merle Haggard’s band The Strangers and time in Austin, Texas based group Heybale are well known in country music circles. Over the course of his storied career, Redd has spent time backing up, sharing the stage and recording with some of the brightest stars and biggest legends in country music. Included among his long list of accolades is a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance. It was a great pleasure to speak with Redd and learn more about his backstory, his journey and contributions to the sophisticated field of beautiful country music.
For more on Redd visit: www.reddvolkaert.com
Mike T. Kerr is a wild guitar player and ambitious songwriter of Canadian heritage and American citizenship. During his time at Berklee College of Music in Boston and in over 10 years of performing, he's lived his life through many historical and contemporary musical styles. Always curious to dig up not only a song's history, but the shape of the world at the time, Mike plays passionately and openly while interpreting the great guitar players of the past. A Danny Gatton lick or Django Reinhardt tune is never far from his fingertips.
Mike had a brief but boisterous stint based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia where in 2018 he was nominated by Music Nova Scotia as Musician of the Year. Currently residing in Toronto, pre-pandemic Mike was found gigging regularly at hot-spots like The Cameron House, The Dakota Tavern, and The Local Pub playing original country music almost any night of the week, or lending his guitar skills to Canadian folk singers such as Corin Raymond, Campbell Woods, and others.
Guitar Rags & Country Ballads is Mike's first album, it was recorded and released in 2018. It features 7 original Country songs and 3 instrumentals. Mike has kept very busy since that debut release and has endeavoured to release an album a month in 2021 at: miketkerr.bandcamp.com
For more on Mike visit: www.miketkerr.com
From the Great Northern Plains, Little Miss Higgins struts and serenades her way onto any stage playing music brewed in early country blues, jazz and folk. Playing, touring, collaborating and recording for over 15 years, this musician and mother now navigates her time through performing and parenthood. Her six independently released albums and artwork have received many awards and nominations, including a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for her latest collection of songs, My Home, My Heart (2017) and 2 Juno nominations (Blues Album of the Year for 2008’s Junction City & Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Group for Bison Ranch Recording Sessions, the 2014 album with backing band, The Winnipeg Five). Along with Maple Blues Awards nominations, LMH won Outstanding Blues Recording at Western Canadian Music Awards and Favourite Blues Artist/Group or Duo of the Year category of the 8th Annual Indies Awards. LMH has appeared live on many CBC radio shows such as Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café, Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition and Rich Terfry’s Drive.
For more on LMH visit: www.littlemisshiggins.com
From the bright red mud of Prince Edward Island, Scott MacKay is a beautiful country music singer and a total gentleman. I was really glad he took the time to share his story and tell us more about his latest album, Stupid Cupid, and the journey that led to it.
For more on Scott visit: www.scottmackay.ca
Over the last number of years Mariel has become established as a darling of the vibrant Alberta Roots music scene. The winner of Roots Artist of the Year at the 2019 Western Canadian Music Awards, Mariel topped that successful year by finishing 1st place at Project Wild. We dug a little deeper into Mariel's backstory, the Motorhome and Driving In The Dark albums, the journey into regional stardom and the plans, albeit ever-changing, for the future.
For more on Mariel visit: www.marielbuckley.com
For more than 15 years, Alex has had a hand in lead vocal and guitar duties in the Moncton, New Brunswick based outfit, The Divorcees. A familiar voice no doubt for country music fans - especially if you tune in with me even semi-regularly on Boots & Saddle as I’m no stranger to spinning a tune from the bands handsome catalogue of outlaw inspired country music. It was a treat to catch up with Alex on the phone and politely interrogate him about his backstory, The Divorcees history and their latest album, Drop Of Blood.
For more on The Divorcees visit: www.thedivorcees.ca
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec - one of our nations most civilized and vibrant cities, Bobby has become of Canada’s most dedicated troubadours, crooning live audiences with heart worn originals, and paying tribute to the golden age of Country music. We spoke about getting started out in Montreal, Bobby Hill's great influence, grinding it out on the road, and their stellar new record, Hopeless Romantic.
For more on Bobby visit: www.bobbydove.com
With 10 full length albums and one EP to his credit, Corb Lund is one of Canada's biggest names in Roots music. The winner of Roots & Traditional Album of the Year at the 2006 Juno Awards, other hardware include 11 Canadian Country Music Awards, and 7 Western Canadian Music Awards. Backed (as he always is) by his stellar band The Hurtin' Albertans, his most recent release Agricultural Tragical came out in June of 2020 on the New West Records label. We caught up on the phone to chat about his career and what he's been up to of late.
For more on Corb visit: www.corblund.com
The audio companion piece to my column in the Honky-Tonk Times, here on the podcast I’ll be interviewing and shooting the breeze with local legends, regional stars, and the cream of the Canadian crop in a more in-depth fashion than the print column allows for.
The inaugural episode is set for release on Thursday, May 6th and will feature our guest, Corb Lund.