BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 – Winners Revealed

Photo Credit BBC

The winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 have been announced in a ceremony broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Ulster, from Belfast Waterfront in Northern Ireland.

A key highlight of the music calendar – now in its 19th year – the awards produced by 7digital saw a host of music stars come together in Belfast for an evening of recognition and show-stopping performances. The ceremony was presented by Radio 2 Folk Show host Mark Radcliffe and world renowned Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis. Talented artists received prizes including Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Album, Musician of the Year, Young Folk Award and many more.

Music legend Van Morrison presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to musician and producer Dónal Lunny for his massive contribution to folk music.

Photo Credit BBC

The Good Tradition Award went to the Armagh Pipers Club to recognise their contribution to the preservation, dissemination and progression of traditional music over more than 50 years.

Folk Singer of the Year was awarded to Scottish singer-songwriter and musician, Karine Polwart, a talented artist who is also a theatre maker, storyteller, spoken-word performer and essayist.

Photo Credit BBC

Dónal Lunny took to the stage to perform with acclaimed musician Zoë Conway on the fiddle, and earlier in the evening Cara Dillon performed accompanied by Sam Lakeman on piano and John Smith on guitar.

Photo Credit BBC

Opening the show with a rousing performance of Devil In The Woman was Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band, driven by brass and electric guitar. And across the night there were also fantastic performances from Lankum, with their song What Will We Do When We Have No Money?, Paul Brady with a solo acoustic rendition of the ballad Lord Thomas And Fair Ellender, and finally, a nine-piece from the Armagh Pipers Club brought the evening to a close with a performance of three specially composed new songs.
The evening included the presentation of the 20th annual BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, an educational contest that exists to discover the next generation of folk acts. Mera Royle, a young harpist from the Isle of Man, was the recipient.

Photo Credit BBC

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 said: ‘I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners – the calibre of nominees was extremely high and the wealth of talent that was seen on stage across the evening in Belfast was spectacular. The Radio 2 Folk Awards is an annual celebration of the thriving folk music scene – supporting both established and burgeoning folk musicians – and part of our specialist music content that Radio 2 is proud to broadcast across the year.’

Influential singer-songwriter Nick Drake was inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame to celebrate the lasting impression he has had on folk music, despite passing away at the age of just 26 in 1974. Had he lived, he would have turned 70 this year.

Olivia Chaney performed a special tribute with a sublime piano-based interpretation of Drake’s essential song, River Man. Olivia is a great fan of Nick Drake and a multi-talented singer, musician and songwriter. Her collaboration with The Decemberists, called Offa Rex, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2017. Her second solo album, Shelter, will be released in June 2018.

Photograph courtesy of Village Voice

Although Nick Drake’s music didn’t garner commercial success during his lifetime, decades after his early death, his music would find a wide and reverent audience. Featuring sublime and original guitar work which is heavy with meaning and mood, his work has been highly influential on singer-songwriters of all kinds. Actor Gabrielle Drake, Nick’s elder sister, was present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards to tell the audience how her famously shy brother might have felt about the occasion.

Later this evening (4 April) at 11pm on Radio 2, Lost Boy: In Search Of Nick Drake will be re-broadcast. In the documentary which originally went out in 2004, Hollywood film star Brad Pitt shines a light on the life and work of the cult singer-songwriter. Featured in the programme are contributions from producer Joe Boyd, engineer John Wood, Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings, Gabrielle Drake and Nick’s late mother, Molly Drake.

The Folk Awards will be broadcast on Sunday 8 April on BBC Four at 9pm and on BBC Two Northern Ireland at 5.30pm, plus selected highlights will be available to watch at bbc.co.uk/radio2 after the show.

The full list of winners:

HORIZON AWARD presented by Jamie Lawson
Ímar

BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK presented by Val McDermid
Banks of Newfoundland by Siobhan Miller

BEST DUO presented by Rab Noakes
Chris Stout & Catriona McKay

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR presented by Leo Green
Mohsen Amini

BEST ORIGINAL TRACK presented by Ralph McTell
The Granite Gaze by Lankum

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented by Van Morrison
Dónal Lunny

BEST GROUP presented by Finbar Furey
Lankum

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Nick Drake

YOUNG FOLK AWARD presented by Lynette Fay of BBC Radio Ulster
Mera Royle

BEST ALBUM
Strangers by The Young’uns

GOOD TRADITION AWARD presented by Tommy Sands
Armagh Pipers Club

FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR presented by Karan Casey
Karine Polwart

If you would like to order a copy of any of the winning artists or their albums (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Nick Drake to be inducted into the Folk Awards Hall Of Fame

Photograph courtesy of Village Voice

This year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, held at Belfast Waterfront on 4 April, will see singer-songwriter Nick Drake inducted into the Folk Awards Hall of Fame.

Folk musician and producer Dónal Lunny will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Armagh Pipers Club will be presented with the Good Tradition Award.

One of folk music’s annual highlights, the event presented by Mark Radcliffe and Julie Fowlis sees some of the biggest names celebrate the thriving folk scene of the UK and beyond. Dónal Lunny and the Armagh Pipers Club will join previously announced Cara Dillon, Paul Brady, Lankum and Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band to perform on stage at the prestigious event in Belfast.

Mike Edgar, Head of Entertainment and Events, BBC Northern Ireland, says: “We are so thrilled that the Radio 2 Folk Awards have chosen to come to Belfast. This part of the world boasts some of the finest musicians and singers on the planet, a fact that is being truly reflected in the line-up for this year’s event. So much talent in one room on one night – it’s sure to be a stunning evening and we look forward to sharing it with everyone on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Ulster and also BBC Four and BBC Northern Ireland.”

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame exists to celebrate significant people who have made a lasting impression on folk music, and have since passed away. In 2018, the year in which he would have turned 70, the inductee will be the singer and songwriter Nick Drake.

Drake’s music didn’t garner commercial success during his lifetime, but decades after his early death at the age of 26, his music would find a wide and reverent audience. Drake left relatively little music behind; only three full studio albums were recorded: Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972). Featuring sublime and original guitar work, intimate vocals and distinctive pastoral strings, those records became classics. Produced by Joe Boyd and John Wood, the music was heavy with meaning and mood and, ultimately, highly influential on singer-songwriters of all kinds.

Actor Gabrielle Drake, Nick’s elder sister, will be present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards and the evening will see a special performance of one of Nick Drake’s songs. Gabrielle is an actor of stage and screen and became well known in the 1970’s for her role in television series The Brothers and UFO, and later in Crossroads and Coronation Street.

On Nick being inducted into the Folk Awards Hall of Fame, Gabrielle says:

“I think Nick would have been quietly amazed, amused but above all, honoured. And, indeed, grateful. As I am on his behalf.”

During the evening, musician and producer Dónal Lunny will receive a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to folk music. He is widely regarded as being central to the renaissance of Irish music over the last three decades.

Born in Tullamore in the midlands of Ireland, Dónal grew up in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. He was founding member of several of Ireland’s important bands including Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Coolfin, and more recently, Mozaik, plus he has produced some of the most significant albums of the traditional music revival since the ’70s. An adept musician and player of the bouzouki, guitar and bodhrán, Dónal has also produced tracks for, and performed on albums with international stars such as Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Mark Knopfler, Clannad, and Baaba Maal. He has written music for many films and theatre productions, and at present, performs with Andy Irvine, DoZoMo, Paddy Glackin, Atlantic Arc Orchestra, and Usher’s Island, and continues with composition, production and teaching.

The evening will also see the Armagh Pipers Club presented with the Good Tradition Award, to recognise their contribution to the preservation, dissemination and progression of traditional music over a number of years.

Founded in 1966 to promote and teach Irish traditional music, the Armagh Pipers Club is an educational charity. Although its original focus was the revival of Ireland’s elbow-driven uilleann bagpipes (pronounced ‘ill-un’), the club rapidly expanded into teaching many other traditional instruments. The club currently provides classes to over 200 students, children and adults, drawn from Armagh and seven neighbouring counties. Many Pipers Club students have gone on to successful professional careers in traditional music, and the contribution of the organisation to the folk scene in Ireland has been immense.

The club’s director, Brian Vallely, who with his wife Eithne founded the organisation, says:

“The Good Tradition Award has had many worthy recipients, ranging from Celtic Connections to Meredydd Evans, John McCusker, Steeleye Span, the Cambridge Folk Festival, the Transatlantic Sessions series and many others – so we are in exalted company. Over five decades, the hundreds of tutors and students who have been associated with the club have made a significant contribution to the survival and development of the traditional music of Ireland, as has the club’s ground-breaking series of tutor books since their first publication in 1972. The recognition of our work through this prestigious award will help the club to maintain its high profile nationally and indeed internationally.”

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement and Good Tradition awards, prizes will be awarded in the following categories on the night: Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Group, Best Album, Horizon Award, Musician of the Year, Best Original Track, Best Traditional Track and the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.

The Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 will welcome an array of guest presenters to present winners with their awards, including Finbar Furey, who is a multi-instrumental folk musician, best known for his band of brothers, The Fureys. Past guest presenters have included Sir David Attenborough, Sharleen Spiteri, Sir Ray Davies, Pauline Black, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Martin Freeman, Sandie Shaw and Sean Bean.

Tickets for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in Belfast are available from bbc.co.uk/radio2, and the event will be simulcast live from 7.30-9pm on BBC Radio 2 and Radio Ulster. After the show, selected highlights will be available to watch at bbc.co.uk/radio2, and a highlights programme will be broadcast on both BBC Four and BBC Northern Ireland the weekend after the event, and available on BBC iPlayer following that.

The Radio 2 Folk Awards are a 7digital Creative production for Radio 2 and produced by Kellie While and Jon Lewis.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

SINÉAD O’CONNOR re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua due 8th April 2013

Sean-Nos NuaApril 2013 will see the UK & Ireland re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua, first released in 2000 selling more than 200,000 copies worldwide. Literally translating as “Old Songs Made New”, Sean Nos Nua is a redefining moment in Sinead O’Connor’s career, an album composed of songs extracted from the bottomless well of traditional Irish folk song. Indeed, as many have proved in the past, this ancient repository is an apt source of material from which to draw and compliment the outsider’s oeuvre of an artistic mutineer such as O’Connor, for, along with the customary stories of lust and heartbreak, Irish traditional song and verse, much like that of other folk song emanating from the British Isles, is stuffed to the gills with bloody narratives of tragedy, intransient rebelliousness and lawless skullduggery.

Despite its generous thematic share of ex-pat Irishmen caught up in foreign wars, nautical misadventure (Lord Franklin), murder and piracy, Sean Nos Nua is a very feminine album, with O’Connor at her fragrant, interpretive best on the sorrowful Molly Malone and Lord Baker, which finds Christy Moore revisiting the song he performed with Planxty on the 1982 album Words and Music. Intentions to “sex things up”, as O’Connor puts it, give birth to an intriguing reggae undertow on Óró Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile while guest appearances from the Emerald Isle’s most eminent bouzouki practitioner Donal Lunny, the WaterboysSteve Wickham on fiddle, Sharon Shannon on accordion and ON-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood keep things fresh but traditionally firm-footed enough not to deter purists. And, who knows, the boozy Irish bards and archivists of the future may have occasion to recount the tales of the shaven-headed colleen from Glengeary who ripped up pictures of the Pontiff and whose backside never surrendered to the threat of a star-spangled kicking from the boot of Frank Sinatra.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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 – Transatlantic Sessions 4 (Whirlie Records DVD03)

You can tell from the photo on the sleeve of “Transatlantic Sessions 4” that this DVD is going to be something special. It depicts Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas broadly grinning at each other as if they were the cats that had got the cream and who could blame them? In the illustrious company of amongst others; Karan Casey, Rosanne Cash, Phil Cunningham, Julie Fowlis, Donal Lunny, Mike McGoldrick, Donald Shaw, Emily Smith and James Taylor it’s enough to make any real ‘folk’ enthusiast salivate at the very thought of what lies in the little black box. As a musician myself, there’s a feeling of jealousy but then again, who wouldn’t want to be part of such an astonishing gathering. To coin the vernacular, “…they must have been freezing their nuts off!” wouldn’t I suspect be too far from the truth but the musicians collective warmth for each other would be enough to power a small sun. Onto the content itself and really it’s a case of where to begin? The title credits encapsulate everything by bringing a sense of wonder with stunning views of chilly rivers and a beautiful Scottish vista all within 28 seconds (and yes, I did set my stop-watch to time it) utilising Douglas trademark dobro, gently brushed snare drum, Uilleann pipes and fiddle. This in itself is enough to draw the listener/viewer in and get your feet tapping with the expectant thought of what is about to emerge phoenix like (this is the 4th series) from this box of treasures. The glue that holds everything together is of course the chemistry between the musicians and the main protagonists in this respect are fiddler Ali Bain and the astonishing accompaniment from Jerry “We are not worthy” Douglas. The camaraderie of everyone involved is a welcoming sight/sound and the collaborative juices flow without any sense of awkwardness just a mutual respect for each other and the obvious delight of working in such exalted company. The songs and tunes are painstakingly crafted and so too are the contributions of all the technical staff. In particular I’d like to point out the professional integrity of all involved (something you don’t see too often in the ‘folk world’) in providing such a banquet of audio and visual delights directed by Mike Alexander and produced by Douglas Eadie. Particular mention in despatches must go to the splendid eye for photography of Mark Littlewood, Derek Ritchie’s lighting and Allan Young’s superb mastery of capturing the sound so well. I’d also like to extend a round of applause to George Brown for making this four-hour extravaganza available via the Whirlie Records catalogue. If you can’t tell from this short review how blown away I am with this double disc DVD then do yourselves a favour, rifle through your bank account (I know how difficult that is in the present climate) and treat yourself to some tangible ‘magic’.

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of the DVD then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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 website: http://www.whirlierecords.co.uk/

LORG LUNNY featuring Donal Lunny (TG4 TV)

My good friend Paul Dengate had recently travelled to Ireland (he knows how to make a chap jealous) and told me that he had been to see a new band that Donal Lunny had put together for a TV series. Cutting to the chase this series is the nearest the ‘folk’ world will get to the X-factor and quite honestly thank God for that! Of course, with someone like Mr Lunny at the helm this is done without the crassness of patronising comments from a panel of “so-called” judges. From the opening episode that features our man trawling the pub session hotspots to the universities and colleges of Eire the viewer is immediately engaged in the beauty of all things ‘Irish’. From the pulsing energy experienced walking the streets strewn with amazing musicians to the serenity of life on the campus the editing leaves you feeling that you are involved in the selection process not only for the group but also to something akin to a travelogue. Also, as if it wasn’t enough in putting together a band, the ever-inventive Lunny aspires to create a new percussion instrument (a sort of acoustic drum kit) to be featured in the band line-up. Over the series of eight half-hour shows not once does Donal’s thought process waver in filtering the artists to be utilised in the project. Technical skill is of course top of the agenda and whilst the combination of Uillean pipes, flute, violin, guitar, concertina, keyboards, percussion and vocals might at first appear an unwieldy proposition the overall texture is as impressive as it sounds. With the benefit of wisdom imbued by none other than Paul Brady, Michael McGoldrick and Noel Eccles the youngsters (all in their twenties) are inspired to new heights of performance and the sense of pride they convey to each other motivates not only themselves but also the viewer who feels as if he has invested something of himself/herself in the selection process. Of course, we’re all going to have our favourites particularly with regard to the choice of vocalist. Heathen that I am, I know nothing of Sean Nos (Gaelic) singing but to my Philistine ears it was always going to be the more contemporary approach taken by the English singing Ciara Cunningham that would win through…and indeed she did. The final episode features the debut public performance by the band Ciorras and trust me, if you get to see the series you’ll be rooting for them too. Possibly the surprise of the night is the “Duelling Banjos” style presentation of Robert Harvey’s vocal lilt sparring with Dermot Sheedy’s bodhran which brought to mind The Bothy Band’s interpretation of “Fionnghuala”…clever and entertaining. I could write a dissertation on this project and, who knows perhaps I will someday as I found the whole process illuminating, stimulating and cathartic in equal measures and if anyone at BBC4 TV is reading this, do us all a favour and feature it as soon as possible because it really is required viewing or better still TG4 make it available on DVD…I’m sure every ‘folk’ music enthusiast in the country would want a copy…it really is that good!

PETE FYFE

Artist website: http://www.tg4.ie/