The 2017 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2017 Folking Awards. Last year’s inaugural poll was such a success that we had to do it again. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were wrangled into shape with sweat, tears and not a little blood by the Folkmeister and the Editor.

There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have been featured in the pages of folking.com in 2016.

As with the format last year, all are winners in our eyes. However, its not just down to what we think, so again, there will be a public vote to decide the overall winner of each category.

Soloist Of The Year

Luke Jackson
Ralph McTell
Kelly Oliver
Steve Pledger
Alasdair Roberts


Best Duo

Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby
Ange Hardy & Lukas Drinkwater
O’Hooley & Tidow
Ninebarrow
Show Of Hands


Best Band

Afro Celt Sound System
Fairport Convention
Harp And A Monkey
Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitor Band
Merry Hell


Best Live Act

The James Brothers
Robb Johnson and the My Best Regards Band
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Mad Dog Mcrea
Megson


Best Album

Tall Tales & Rumours – Luke Jackson
Ballads Of The Broken Few – Seth Lakeman/Wildwood Kin
Preternatural – Moulettes
Somewhere Between – Steve Pledger
Dodgy Bastards – Steeleye Span


Best Musician

Ciaran Algar
Phil Beer
Rachel Newton
Gill Sandell
Kathryn Tickell


Rising Star Act

The Brewer’s Daughter
Hattie Briggs
Said The Maiden
Sunjay
Emily Mae Winters


Best International Act

Applewood Road
The Bills
David Francey
Michael McDermott
Eve Selis


Public Vote

The public vote closed Midday Saturday 22 April 2017 and the winners have now been announced HERE


If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl) of any of the artists featured here, download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above to be taken to that relevant page via our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Food Of Love Project (Autolycus Records AUTO1CD)

The Food Of Love ProjectCommissioned to mark the Oxford Shakespeare Jubilee 2016, The Food Of Love Project falls into the weird and wonderful category. All the tracks are or were traditional – give or take Dave Moran and Nic Jones’ involvement in ‘Tom O’ Bedlam’ and Kirsty Law’s adaptation of ‘Go From My Window’ – but only a few are well known as are the performers, many of whom, like Stornoway, are based in Oxford. All the songs are performed or referenced in the plays of William Shakespeare, albeit “somewhat obliquely” to quote Alasdair Roberts.

The musical styles owe a good deal to the late sixties and as much to the nu-folk of the 21st century. Quite what Shakespeare would have made of Dead Rat Orchestra, I couldn’t say, but their opening sortie, ‘Bonnie Sweet Robin Is To The Greenwood Gone’, is a heavy example of early prog-folk. They had to provide new words as the original text has vanished and the connection is that Ophelia may sing the last line in Hamlet. And that isn’t as oblique as it gets but the result is that the musicians have carte blanche to experiment as much as they wish. ‘O Death, Rock Me Asleep’ from the wonderfully named Children Of The Midnight Chimes (actually Seb Reynolds and Tom McDonnell who curated and commissioned the project) is another example of heavy folk.

Elsewhere, Thomas Truax experiments with a steampunk version of ‘Greensleeves’, James Bell’s take on ‘Tom O’Bedlam’ is light and airy and Brickwork Lizards turn in a weighty performance of ‘Fortune My Foe’.

The final track is ‘Lawn As White As Driven Snow’, an eleven-and-a-half minute epic by David Thomas Broughton, which begins in a relatively conventional style and features two rather nice contrasting solos at its mid-point. The strange synthesisers are beginning the make their presence felt now and by the end has morphed into sonic strangeness.

I can’t guarantee that you will like everything on The Food Of Love Project and indeed there are a couple of tracks I might be wary of returning to but you can’t deny that it’s packed with musical ideas and there is a great deal that you will enjoy.

Dai Jeffries

Project website: https://www.facebook.com/Autolycus-Records

Alasdair Roberts – new album and video

Alasdair Roberts

Alasdair Robert’s high-spirited new album, Pangs, is in stores today – and in commemoration with this forthcoming moment of uplift, we share with one and all the newly-minted video for the title track.

Throughout Pangs, Alasdair’s leads a band on electric guitar, offering an evocation of the 60s and 70s folk-rockers of the British Isles – the electric warriors of Fairport Convention, the Battlefield Band, Planxty, Richard Thompson and so many others. Of course, these sounds travel through the music of Alasdair Roberts, which is set very firmly in the world of today. And even a dark lament can lift the heart – the point in fact is ‘Pangs’ itself, a skipping ode considering the phenomenon of “sympathetic birth” – where the pain of the expecting mother is shared by another. We take this to be  Alasdair’s observation of the Brexit/Trump echo, a collapse that has been heard across nations.

It makes sense then that the  ‘Pangs’ video finds Alasdair hitching a ride through hostile counties, standing on the rock of Hadrian’s Walk (the ancient Roman wall built in the north of England to mark the boundary of their empire) and returning, prodigal-son style to a remote castle where children play and a preacher leads his flock. There’s magic involved, via a selenite Crystal Wand, and an evocation of end times. A stark but compelling vision that reminds us to consider others as we do ourselves. With a guitar solo too!

Alasdair’s UK and Ireland tour (with Alex Neilson and Stevie Jones) is under way check if they’re coming to your neck of the woods!

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Alasdair Roberts – Pangs link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artist’s website: http://www.alasdairroberts.com/

‘Pangs’ – official video:

The Food Of Love Project features Shakespearean songs

The Food Of Love Project

Introducing The Food of Love Project, a compilation album featuring some of the great names of folk music performing a rich variety of songs either referenced or performed in the plays of William Shakespeare. The album was curated and commissioned by Sebastian Reynolds of PinDrop and Tom McDonnell of TMD Media to mark the Oxford Shakespeare Jubilee 2016, a festival programme of events exploring Shakespeare’s incredible legacy.

The Food of Love Project album is a treasure trove of varied interpretations and extrapolations of Shakespearean period songs. Opening with the orchestral drone folk chorus created by Dead Rat Orchestra with their version of ‘Bonnie Sweet Robin Is To The Greenwood Gone’, as referenced in Hamlet, the album gets off to suitably grandiose start. Steam-punk inventor/musician Thomas Truax reimagines classic English ballad ‘Greensleeves’ in a typically cosmic, surrealist light, and Oxfordian band Stornoway rework the old Gaelic tune ‘Eibhlín A Riún’ into a beautiful, sonorous nugget of pop gold. Talking about his performance of ‘Caleno Custure Me’, acclaimed Scottish folk troubadour Alasdair Roberts says:

“Of a couple of songs suggested to me in relation to this project, ‘Caleno Custure Me’ (referenced somewhat obliquely in Henry IV Part 2) was the most appealing. I appreciate the mystery of the uncertain etymology of the title/chorus line (although I suppose the most likely explanation is that it’s garbled Irish Gaelic). There’s a beautiful recording of the song by the late Alfred Deller, the great countertenor, who’s a singer I’ve enjoyed listening to a bit over the years. I thought that I would attempt to go ‘historically accurate’ with this new recording of the song and so I enlisted the services of my good friend and lute player Gordon Ferries.”

Having been commissioned and curated by Seb and Tom, stalwarts of the ever-thriving Oxford music scene, the Oxon crowd is well represented, alongside Stornoway, by local heroes Flights of Helios, Brickwork Lizards and James Bell. ‘The Children Of The Midnight Chimes’ is a unique collaboration between Seb (producer) and Tom (vocals), especially for the album. Their abstract, drone noise take on ‘Oh Death, Rock Me Asleep’ is fittingly atmospheric, considering that the poem on which it was based was allegedly written by Anne Boleyn as she awaited her beheading in the Tower of London. The album is completed by a magisterial take on ‘Farewell, Dear Love’ (Twelfth Night) by Rob St John accompanied by cellist Pete Harvey; a collaborative deconstruction of ‘Peg-a-Ramsey’ and ‘Yellow Hose’ (Twelfth Night) by Nathaniel Mann of Dead Rat Orchestra and folk guitarist Nick Castell; a sophisticated retelling of ‘Go From My Window’(Much Ado About Nothing) entitled ‘Strength In A Whisper’ by Scottish folk singer Kirsty Law; and a sprawling, ambient folk adaption of ‘Lawn As White As Driven Snow’ (A Winter’s Tale) to close the album by singer and experimental musician David Thomas Broughton.

The album is dedicated to the memory of John Renbourn, who had committed to participate in the project before he passed away in 2015.

Project website: https://www.facebook.com/Autolycus-Records

‘Farewell, Dear Love’:

Second track from Refugee – ‘Scarce Of Fishing’

Scarce Of Fishing

The second track from the Refugee compilation album has surfaced.

‘Scarce of Fishing’ is the contributed track from Scottish singer/songwriter Alasdair Roberts. Premiered on Brooklyn Vegan, the folk artist has had previous support from the likes of Uncut, Pitchfork, BBC, The Observer, The Times, and much more, before joining the ‘Refugee’ project, spearheaded by fellow musician Robin Adams.

The project got it’s first exposure with the first track which dropped a few weeks back – ‘Most People’ is the contribution from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Listen to the single, which premiered on Pitchfork.

Featuring Richard Dawson, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Linda Thompson, Alasdair Roberts, Ricky Ross, BMX Bandits and many more, the Refugee album is a united effort from some of folk’s most esteemed and cult figures, who’ve contributed an original or unreleased song each to the Refugee project.

Refugee (out digitally on July 5th through Brainfog) is a highly significant collaborative recording project which reflects, through song, the issue of the refugee crisis in its many forms, from Syria and beyond. It’s been curated by Scottish folk artist Robin Adams, who called on his close friends and musical colleagues from around the world to contribute to the project.

Each track is an unreleased original song, with contributions from the likes of the above artists. All proceeds go to the MOAS organisation (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) who’ve saved more than 13,000 lives since 2013 in the Mediterranean Sea. Read more on them at www.moas.eu.

Listen to ‘Scarce Of Fishing’:

Alasdair Roberts and James Green – unique new album

Alasdair Roberts and james Green

Mayday 2012: an email from James Green in Sheffield reached me in Glasgow. I knew James a little – not particularly well; we had met a few times over the years and had collaborated a little too (I’d sung on a couple of songs on the album Folk Songs 2 by his group The Big Eyes Family Players). I understood that he played the harmoniflute, an instrument somewhere between a harmonium and an accordion, and seemed very enamoured of it. His email read: “had an idea about approaching you with… an EP or few songs (trad or otherwise) accompanied by my harmoniflute, and nothing else…just an idea once the dust has settled, maybe…”.

The dust was not long in the swirling before coming to rest upon both of our past endeavours, and shortly we set to work on the project which became Plaint Of Lapwing. My initial thought was to concentrate on just four pieces – I’d just recorded the Drag City LP/CD A Wonder Working Stone and had some songs left over from that. In a process which James was later to characterise as “surreal”, I started emailing him recordings of my disembodied voice; in response I would eagerly await, tracks featuring aforesaid voice with James’ harmoniflute accompaniment.

The project gradually, almost imperceptibly, developed in scope and complexity over two years. I began sending James more vocal takes as well as other sonics I’d generated, for a variety of original compositions and some by other authors (including a song by the Perthshire folklorist Hamish Henderson, an arrangement by Benjamin Britten of a piece by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, a lyric by beekeeping Cornish film maker Timothy Neat and a setting of a work by the Angus poet Violet Jacob). James in turn increased his instrumental palette to include drums, guitars and all other kinds of musical things.

As the project developed, so did a wonderful friendship blossom between James and myself. I found I was sending vocal tracks attached to emails detailing current grievances in my personal life, as if envisaging James as some kind of agony aunt. James, in return, sent completed tracks and, apparently regarding me as some kind of sounding board, emails venting his strident opinions (invariably in line with my own) on whatever political matter ruled the day. Before we knew it the disembodied sounds had become incarnate and James and I found we had an LP’s worth of material – an LP featuring beautiful artwork by Frances Castle which you, dear listener, now have the opportunity to welcome into your own home. The album is released in two editions one with a red cover (500 copies) and one with a blue cover (300 copies). It will also be available to download and stream.

If you would like to download a copy of the album or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: http://www.alasdairroberts.com/

Label website: www.claypipemusic.co.uk