Sebastian Buzzalino

Ethnomusicologist Mike Tod Dives Deep into Canadian Roots Music History With The Folk Podcast

The lesser-known history behind Canadian folk and roots music has been showcased by local Calgary musician and ethnomusicologist Mike Tod in his podcast, The Folk.

The 13-part podcast, which covers one province or territory per episode, will examine the stories of overlooked musicians who helped shape Canadian folk.

“These are crazy and wild stories that took place behind the music and have not been properly documented anywhere else,” says Tod.

“There are no biographies or big documentary series on the people I focus on, and it’s my attempt or my effort to make a piece that really dives deep into the music and the lives of the people who played it.”

Each episode is in one hour long, with clips of the featured artist’s tunes and archival footage interspersed with Tod’s storytelling.

As Tod explains, the two main inspirations behind the series was music podcast, Cocaine and Rhinestones, a series that talks about the history of 20th century country music, and a Ken Burns documentary, Country Music, which explores the creation of modern country music.

His time at CJSW, the University of Calgary’s radio station, and his master’s degree in ethnomusicology, the study of music of a group of people, also provided some of the background for the project.

Where The Folk Departs, however, is that those projects are centred on American artists or American places. Tod has always been curious about the music in his own backyard and sought to learn more about the local histories at play that may have missed the limelight at the time.

“We’re talking about high calibre players that not a lot of people know about,” says Tod. “They existed in this moment of time, this window of time and maybe were popular when they were around. But, for the most part, not a lot of people know about those stories or listen to this music. I think that’s just totally out of this world, and it deserves to be examined and investigated a little further.”

The Folk can be streamed at thefolkpodcast.com, with new episodes every Thursday. Mike Tod will be hosting a public presentation of the podcast at the Central Library on November 24.

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