Stewed Roots
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Stewed Roots


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Duo Pens Positive Messages in first CD"

Home Arts/Life Spectrum Duo pens positive messages in first CD
Duo pens positive messages in first CD
Posted By Lori Littleton
Updated 11 days ago
Each song created by Neva Tesolin and Jeff Hale is a story, and the lyrics are reflective.

"They make you think and, I guess, there's nothing that would bring you down - they're positive lyrics," Tesolin said. "People can listen to the lyrics and ... (will) feel good after hearing them. That's always my hope when writing."

Together, Tesolin and Hale are Stewed Roots and the pair just released their first, self-titled CD.

"We picked that name because it's like the variety of music we play," said Tesolin, who plays accordion. "We have a base of folk and blues, but there's also country and I've played in a small Cajun band in the past."

Tesolin and Hale first met as members in the female group BroadBand. On Sunday, BroadBand will perform at the 16th Annual International Women's Day Celebration concert at the Black Sea Hall. The concert will also feature Stewed Roots, sisterLune and Bunny Brown.

Tesolin, who was born and raised in St. Catharines, said a few years ago she and Hale decided to form their own group to play more.

"We wanted to do regular (playing) and more music that's suited to us rather than a decision made by five people," she said. "I love (Hale's) singing and it suits my songwriting so well."

Hale, who moved to Toronto in 1999, also plays guitar in the duo.

"We thought we would play as a duo and see how that worked out and it seems to have worked out well," she said.

The Montreal native also sings locally with the Glenridge Boys, an old-time country band, and the a capella Jazz Belles in Toronto. Hale is a full-time mother of two sons, aged 10 and 22.

Most of the songs on Stewed Roots' disc were pieces Tesolin and Hale were familiar with, including a couple of tunes they had previously recorded with BroadBand.


"When we decided to go forward with the CD the original thought was it's going to be pretty much the bare bones of us (in order) to get gigs," Hale said. "Once we got into it and talked about it more and more, the focus was more on the songs and how to make the songs the best they could be."

Recording the disc turned out to be tricky at times because they live in different cities, Hale said.

"We were in the studio together for only two days. Everything else was done separately, but we were familiar with the music. We had an idea of the way we wanted things to sound," she said.

Paul Mills, who has worked with Stan Rogers and Sharon, Lois and Braham, produced the CD, which will soon be available on the group's website ( and CD Baby.

Hale met Mills when he was putting together a compilation album about canoe songs. Hale's Blue Canoe Lullaby appears on the 2004 volume.

"The music he likes to work with is singer/songwriter stuff," Hale said. "Neva does singer/songwriter stuff and he heard us together and it sort of clicked and we said let's do it in Toronto."

Tesolin, who teaches Grades 3/4 at E.I. McCulley School, said she is really pleased with the end product. The mother of two - son Jeremiah lives in Finland and has a son; and daughter Jessie, a cellist, lives in Halifax and performed three tracks on the Stewed Roots CD - also plays with Mr. Rick and the Biscuits and will be playing on their CD.

The past five years, she has been travelling to the southwest of Ireland. Some of the work from those sessions has ended up on Stewed Roots.

"I've met a lot of people (there), it's like a second home to me," she said. "I use my time there to really relax and to write. Four songs (on the album) represent my time there and I'm really excited to get the CD over there to show these people how very much they are involved in it."

Stewed Roots will join BroadBand, sisterLune and Bunny Brown on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the 16th Annual International Women's Day celebration concert at the Black Sea Hall, at 455 Welland Ave. The doors open at 2:30 p.m., and all proceeds will go to Gillian's Place. Tickets are $15 in advance, available at Ryson's Music and The Peanut Mill, or $20 at the door. Call 905-988-9594 for information.

Sonido Cubano - all graduates of the Cuban Institute of Music - will bring the sounds of Latin America to
- St.Catharines Standard

"Stewed Roots "In the Middle of This"

In Canada, around Toronto, the earth must be very fertile. Many artists start out from there to spread their musical wings - just like Jennifer Hale (Jeff for short) and Neva Tesolin, who worked on this album together. They both sing with complimentary voices, exchanging songs and adding their own particular ‘key’ to them. Possibly the best Canadian instrumentalists from the area accompany them on their debut album, produced by award winner Paul Mills.
These ladies have been in the music business since childhood. Jeff Hale, guitarist and lead singer, and Neva Tesolin pianist/accordionist, both write their own songs. Jeff with elegant dance tunes, Cajun, ‘old time’ or folksy pub songs with sources of inspiration of daily life or connected with family ties. Neva searches more in the Celt evocations - from pictorial landscapes, Kerry, Wales, to the myths of the seasons, the ‘moon mysteries’, or harvest impressions. ‘The Fisher and Me’, ‘The Daughters’ and the instrumental ‘Llanwrtyd Wells and Ponies’ are all hers and betray a rootsy Celtic background. Her classic training as a pianist since age seven lingers between sparkling and sublime. Jeff Hale plays her Martin guitar like it was her first toy. She has the ideal voice to very powerfully frame her own ‘Turning 40' and their joint ‘Dirty Work’ For a fairy tale like quality, Neva’s daughter Jessie came all the way from Halifax to accompany on her cello, highlighting the feminine nuances. While listening to these ladies, one wonders if the ancestral Celtic blood still flows. Playfulness, irony, melancholy, poetry - all fight for primacy. The musicians follow the mood of the ladies perfectly. Bass player Bob Hewus and Curly Boy Stubbs on mandolin and banjo are a great addition and Curly Boy’s percussion on the instrumental ‘Llanwrtyd Wells’ makes this piece one of my favourites, along with the mythical ‘The Daughters’ which, with the piano, cello, and violin arrangements, has a liturgical feeling.
If this is not clear enough - this Toronto album smells of the sea, where songs dance together like waves on the Irish coast, all individual but pushed together by the same power with the sound of the tides... - Rootstime Review- English Translation

"Stewed Roots CD Review"

In Canada, in de buurt van Toronto, is de grond blijkbaar vruchtbaar. Menig artiest vertrekt van daaruit om zijn muzikale vleugels uit te slaan. Zo ook met Jennifer Hale, kortweg Jeff genoemd, en Neva Tesolin, die beiden na aparte muzikale omzwervingen, rond dit album samenwerkten. Beide dames zingen met complementaire stemmen, die de songs afwisselen en er een eigen toonaard aan geven. Canadese instrumentalisten, vermoedelijk de beste uit de streek van St. Catharines tot Toronto, begeleiden hen bij hun debuutalbum, geproducet door Paul Mills, die Award Winner op zijn palmares mag schrijven. Niet dat de dames al niet lang van kindsbeen af met muziek in de weer waren. Jeff Hale, gitarist en leadzangeres, en Neva Tesolin, pianist/accordeonist, schrijven zelf hun eigen frisse songs. Jeff gooit zich liefst al zingend los in zwierige danstunes, cajun, ‘old time’ of folky pubsongs met inspiratiebron uit het dagelijks leven of aangehaakt aan familiebanden. Neva Tasolin zoekt het meer in Keltische evocaties, van picturale landschappen, Kerry, Wales, tot de mythes van de seizoenen, het maanmysterie of oogstimpressies. ‘The Fisher and Me’, ‘The Daughters’ en het instrumentale ‘Llanwrtyd Wells and Ponies’ zijn allen van haar hand en verraden een rootsy Keltische lichtinval. Haar pianospel, klassieke training vanaf haar zevende jaar, verwijlt in de schermerzone tussen sprankelend en subliem. Jeff Hale, die al op school in een bandje zat, speelt op haar Martin gitaar alsof dit haar eerste speelgoed was. Bovendien heeft zij de ideale stem om zowel haar eigen laconieke ‘Turning 40’als hun gezamenlijke ‘Dirty Work’ krachtig te omlijsten. En meestal ook liefdevol bij de meer romantische songs. Voor de feeërieke toets kwam zelfs Neva’s dochter, Jessie, even uit Halifax over om met cellobegeleiding de delicate vrouwelijke nuances te belichten. Als je de dames beluistert, vraag je je onvermijdelijk af of het verre voorvaderlijk Keltisch bloed nog steeds aan het bruisen is. Speelsheid, ironie, melancholie, poëzie, strijden alle om voorrang. De medemuzikanten spelen perfect in op de gemoedsstemmingen van de dames. Behalve contrabassist Bob Hewus valt ook Curly Boy Stubbs op, zoals hij met mandoline of banjo present geeft. En zijn percussie op het instrumentale ‘Llanwrtyd Wells’ maakt dit nummer tot een van mijn favorieten, naast het mythische ‘The Daughters’, dat met piano, cello en de vioolarrangementen haast liturgisch aandoet. Moest het nog niet duidelijk zijn. Dit Toronto-album verfrist als een zee waar de songs over elkaar buitelen als de golven op de Ierse kusten, geen enkele dezelfde maar allemaal voortgestuwd door dezelfde kracht, deze van de sound in eb en vloed.

- ROOTStime


Stewed Roots "Counting The Stars" 2012

Recorded LIVE in Neva's Livingroom, 9 new tracks..just us. No fancy effects or added stuff..just Jeff and Neva playing some tunes!
Engineered by James Moore
available at CDbaby

You can listen to ALL Stewed Roots music at CBC Music

Stewed Roots "In the Middle of This" 2008

Produced by Paul Mills, with Jeff on lead vocals and guitar, Neva on piano, accordion,octave mandolin and vocals, featuring the fantastic work of guest musicians : Al Cross - drums, Bob Hewus - acoustic bass, Don Reed - fiddle, violins; Jessie Tesolin - cello; Rick Whitelaw - slide and blues guitar; Curly Boy Stubbs- guitar, mandolin, banjo, hand percussion, harmony vocals.
Available at CDbaby

Jeff and Neva are featured in the independently produced cds"BroadBand"(2002) and "Women in Music - Live at the Black Sea Hall"(2000)
Jeff has a tune 'Blue Canoe Lullaby' on Portage Productions' amazing compilation cd "Canoesongs Volume 1"(2004) , and also appears with the fabulous Glenridge Boys on their cd 'Garden City Suite'



*****Stewed Roots wins 2009 'One Fret Less' Award and a spot in the Ottawa Folk Festival****
"Some of the best songwriting I've heard in years" Brian Bowers (Autoharp Living Legend!)

We had a BLAST at the Ottawa Folk Festival...great audience and performer feed-back; got to workshop with some amazing musicians; perform for the Main Stage audience; AND we sold a whack of CDs , to boot!
Stewed Roots "In the Middle of This" ranked in the top 40 Cds of 2009 - Galexie Folk/Roots Radio
Ranked on the Galexie Folk/Roots Chart for FOUR consecutive months!

"Chart Chat: Unassuming Indies Impress

...Out of Toronto, Stewed Roots' In the Middle of This ("songs like "I Don't Think About Him Much," "Pretension Rag," and "The Fisher and Me" offer simple but affecting homespun tales -- memorable story songs that you readily want to rehear."

The Galaxie Folk/Roots Channel’s most-played, high-rotation album releases for May 2009:

1. Bruce Cockburn --- Slice of Life: Live Solo --- (True North/Linus)
2. Brian Vardigans --- Springhill --- (
3. The United Steel Workers of Montreal --- Three on the Tree (weework)
4. Stewed Roots --- In the Middle of This --- (
5. Romi Mayes --- Achin in Yer Bones --- (
We are delighted!!


After jamming together for years and years and playing in other bands, Neva and Jeff decided to perform as a duo, and Stewed Roots was born. With Neva on accordion and Jeff on vocals and guitar, Stewed Roots is a natural vehicle for fine original material , foot-stompin' old time country, traditional folk music, and anything else that the Muses send along...

Neva Tesolin started classical piano training at the age of 7, and at 16 she began working as a solo pianist and teacher in the Niagara Region. Jamming and playing in bands taught her jazz and blues, and during her classical training at Brock University she earned many music awards. On piano accordion she’s versatile in folk, blues, cajun, country and celtic music. This eclectic range of influences and experiences is at the heart of her classical suites, songs, and instrumentals. Neva currently records and is a side player on piano and accordion, in Niagara and Toronto

Jeff (Jennifer) Hale has been writing and playing music for a long, long time.She joined her first band in high school and has been performing ever since. Lead vocals, harmony vocals, a cappella, rhythm guitar, folk, blues, bluegrass, country, rock, roots, swing... Jeff lives in Toronto and performs there, and in Niagara. Recent Recordings include: Stewed Roots - In the Middle of This (2008) 'Blue Canoe Lullaby' featured on Canoesongs Volume 1 (Portage Productions) (2004); BroadBand (2002); Women in Music- Live at the Black Sea Hall (2000) ....Jeff plays a 1964 00018 Martin Guitar....