Monday Night Special: Wild Rose Moon Radio “Best of 2021”
2021 was a year of some seminal losses in the music world, not the least of which was the singer songwriter, Bill Staines. Fittingly, the Wild Rose Moon Radio hour begins its “Best of 2021” show with a clip of Bill singing his seminal, “Place in the Choir.” Recorded by Makem and Clancy, and many others, the song has become an anthem sung the world over. The show also features a recollection from Bill’s early days of listening to “Folk Radio,” and being inspired to follow the songwriting profession. Appropriately following Bill’s tribute, is the song, “Makin’ Memories,” from Melissa Carper and her fine band consisting of Brennen Leigh and Rebecca Patek. Paying homage to the early days of country swing, the song features beautifully tuned harmonies and soulful fiddle, “I’m making memories, I’d sure like to keep.” Brennen’s beautiful song, “Prairie Funeral,” follows this perfectly, describing the funeral in pastoral detail and describing the deceased fondly as, “An August wind blowin’ through the trees.” The set is nearly rounded out by John Ragusa and Huge Poole, of the Brooklyn-based band, Mulebone, delivering their hope filled, Delta Blues number, “New Morning.” Chicago’s own, Mark Dvorak, a 30 year teacher at the Old Town School of Folk Music, concludes with his seminal tune, “I Don’t Want to Be That Man.” Reflecting on the troubled times we’re in and drawing a line in the sand he announces, I can’t live with all this hate, that’s not who I am. And I hope it’s not too late, I don’t want to be that man.
In the second section of the show, the Brattelborough, Vermont band, Low Lilly, shares a similar reflection, in their song, Darkest Hour. Using syncopated clapping as accompaniment, Liz Simmons, Flynn Cohen, and Lissa Schneckenburger sing, I will not hate, I will not fear, in our darkest hour, hope lingers near. Immediately following is Matt Watroba’s beautiful song about building empathy and gratefulness in the world “Could you Love Me?” In the song, the Plymouth, Michigan songwriter and teacher sings, Could you love me, if I don’t . . . pray like you, dress like you, love like you? If I stare a little longer could I see myself in you? South Bend songwriters, Riely O’Connor and Molly B. Moon continue the theme of human bridge building with Molly’s beautiful song, “Black-Eyed Susans.” Molly sings, I’ll come to you, I’ll get a room, we’ll meet together, we’ll find new ground, with room for two, we’ll stand together, me and you. And concluding with a similar theme, Mallory Graham and Scott Tyler, of the band Rough and Tumble, sing their finely crafted anthem, “Make a Way.” Not gonna lose by not havin’ the answer, not gonna miss your shot by takin’ a chance . . . we can go there together.
Melissa Carper’s band continues the theme of past year’s recollections in part three of the radio program with her song, “That Was Many Moon’s Ago.” The song reflects on a past love and the healing that takes place with time. Returning to the theme of troubled times, Minnesota based songwriter; John Gorka delivers a gentle critique of the party of Lincoln with his remarkable, “Oh Abraham.” Oh Abraham, look at all the money now—oh Abraham, Goodnight. It’s your party, but I’ll cry if I want to; all powered up and charmed with might, so we are right, we’re always right. John continues with a beautiful reflection on the gift of songwriting as an art of combining words and wordlessness to create a soulful communication of personal truth. His understated love song, “If I Could Forget to Breathe,” illustrates the point. After listing a long list of impossible dream-like accomplishments he concludes, Only when I have done all that will I turn away from you. Ending on a hopeful note, this radio hour concludes with another folk rock anthem by Rough and Tumble, “You’re Not Going Alone.” You may not belong here anymore, but you’re not going alone. Indeed, 2021 is gone, and The Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour is coming right along with you with a bunch of new programs for 2022.