BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 Winners Announced

The winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 have been announced in a ceremony broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Now in their 18th year, the Awards are a key highlight of the folk music calendar and serve to raise the profile of folk music. Talent, new and old, received accolades including Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Album, Musician of the Year, Young Folk Award and more. Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Ry Cooder and Al Stewart.

American roots-rock musician and songwriter, Ry Cooder, took to the stage for a rare UK performance, singing Jesus On The Mainline. A career-long champion of folk music, he is renowned for his inspired slide guitar playing, and through his own work and collaborations with others, from The Rolling Stones to The Chieftains and Buena Vista Social Club.

British singer-songwriter Al Stewart also took to the stage for a performance of his 1977 song, On The Border. Al started his career on the 1960s London folk scene, and has worked alongside Bert Jansch, Jimmy Page, John Renbourn, Rick Wakeman, Tori Amos, Roy Harper and many more. Appearing at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, he became known for his brand of folk-rock, which he combined with tales of characters and events from history. He’s best known for his 1970s hits Year of the Cat and Time Passages.

Tony Blackburn presented Al Stewart with his award and regaled the audience with his own personal story of Al. He explained that in the early 1960s, he had in fact been the lead guitarist in Tony’s own group, ‘Tony Blackburn and the Swinging Bells’.

Tony said: “We used to practice at my parents’ house and, as good as he was, he always played his electric guitar far too loud as it always drowned out my vocals… The fact I’m here tonight will do Al’s credibility a lot of damage but I don’t care as I’ve enjoyed playing ‘Year of the Cat’ very much over the years and I haven’t seen him in a long time. It really is an honour to present this Lifetime Achievement Award to such a talented musician.”

The evening opened with a rousing performance by Afro Celt Sound System. And across the night there were spectacular performances from Shirley Collins MBE (performing Washed Ashore), Daoirí Farrell (Van Diemen’s Land), Jim Moray (Fair Margaret And Sweet William), Billy Bragg (I Ain’t Got No Home), and Fara (Three Fishers).

There was a powerful and moving performance taken from the Ballads of Child Migration, which tells the story of the enforced migration of over 100,000 children to Australia and Canada between 1863 and 1970. The specially-curated performance was narrated by Barbara Dickson with original songs performed by Kris Drever, Jez Lowe, While & Matthews, Boo Hewerdine, O’Hooley & Tidow, John McCusker, Andy Cutting and Michael McGoldrick.

Folk icon Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame, to celebrate his lasting influence. Billy Bragg performed a special tribute with a rendition of Guthrie’s I Ain’t Got No Home. The celebration marked 50 years since Guthrie’s death in 1967, aged 55. The musician wrote some of the most enduring standards in the genre with his life and work dedicated to supporting and documenting the rights of workers and the downtrodden. His songs have been covered by countless singers from Bruce Springsteen to Lady Gaga and he was a mentor to a young Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 said: “Huge congratulations to all the winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 – the calibre of all the nominees was outstanding. This annual event is a wonderful celebration of the vibrant folk music scene and tonight’s show was spectacular, featuring some of folk’s most long standing, biggest and newest stars which Radio 2 is committed to supporting throughout the year.”

The Folk Awards will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 9 April at 10pm as an hour-long highlights programme which will include all the performances.

Alternatively, click on any of the links below to see the individual performances:










The full list of winners:

FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR presented by Sharleen Spiteri
Kris Drever

BEST DUO presented by Peter Lord of Aardman Animations
Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton

BEST GROUP presented by Sir Ray Davies
The Furrow Collective

BEST ALBUM presented by Mark Kermode
Songs of Separation – Songs of Separation

HORIZON AWARD presented by Rachel and Becky Unthank (of The Unthanks)
Daoirí Farrell

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR presented by Gus Unger-Hamilton from Alt-J
Rachel Newton

BEST ORIGINAL TRACK presented by Susie Dent
If Wishes Were Horses by Kris Drever

BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK presented by Pauline Black of The Selecter
Van Diemen’s Land by Daoirí Farrell

BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD presented by Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention
Josie Duncan & Pablo Lafuente

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented by Tony Blackburn
Al Stewart

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD presented by Nick Lowe
Ry Cooder

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Woody Guthrie

Building up to the Awards, Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Drivetime programme was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. In the show, Simon counted down the Top 10 Most Played Folk Songs on Radio 2. Compiled by PPL, the Number 1 track was Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ Wild World – released in 1970, which featured on his fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman. It wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but reached No 11 on the US Billboard chart. Jimmy Cliff released his recording of Wild World in 1970 – produced by Cat Stevens – reaching No 8 in the UK; with Maxi Priest hitting No 5 with his version in 1988. Cat was presented with the Lifetime Achievement honours at the Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2015. Number 2 of the Top 10 Most Played Folk Songs on Radio 2 was Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal; at No 3 was Bellowhead’s Roll the Woodpile Down; at No 4 was Meet Me On The Corner by Lindisfarne; No 5 was Underneath The Stars by Kate Rusby; at No 6 was River Man by Nick Drake; No 7 was Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys; No 8 was Thea Gilmore & Sandy Denny’s London; at No 9 was Streets of London by Ralph McTell and at No 10 was Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford and Sons.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens said: “I’m surprised that we actually pipped to the post all these great folk singers and that it’s still being played. That makes me feel very satisfied and it shows that the song and the meaning is still relevant. Of course it is relevant because wild world is exactly what it is and exactly what we’re living in right now and it’s getting wilder perhaps.”

Fairport Convention 50th Anniversary Concert at St George’s in Beckenham

Fairport Convention are to open the Arts at St George’s Festival in Beckenham on Friday 5th May 2017 at 8.00pm.

So, come and join us and the band for this golden anniversary concert for an evening of musical celebration on the 50th Anniversary Tour.

Credited with originating British folk-rock, Fairport first took to the stage in 1967’s summer of love. Throughout the intervening five decades (and numerous changes of line-up) the band’s passion for live performance has never wavered.

To mark its fiftieth year, Fairport has released a brand new CD titled 50:50@50. The band will play a selection of tracks from the album as well as long-established favourites from their extensive repertoire.

Fairport Convention has attracted critical acclaim throughout its long career. The band won a coveted BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, Radio 2 listeners voted Fairport’s groundbreaking album Liege & Lief ‘The Most Influential Folk Album of All Time’, and their story and music has often featured on radio and
television.

For tickets and details about all the other Arts at St George’s Festival programme including the Richard Digance Golden Anniversary Tour concert on the 30th June visit – http://stgeorgesarts.co.uk/

A classic form the folking video archive from 2009 to keep you going in the meantime…

Butlins’ Great British Folk Festival announces first names

Heading into its 7th year! The Great British Folk Festival 2017 promises to be the best yet, with an amazing line up of award-winning folk talent. Book early to get the best choice of accommodation and avoid missing out on this renowned festival which is now a staple in the folk calendar.

Butlins

Festival website: https://www.bigweekends.com

Imagined Isle Festival announces headline names

Imagined Isle

Birmingham music festival returns for second year.
Headliners include Fairport Convention and Jon Boden.

Fairport Convention, Jon Boden and The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are among the acts headlining folk and roots festival Imagined Isle, which returns to the Birmingham’s iconic Town Hall from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 May 2017.

Formed in 1967, Fairport Convention are lauded as founding fathers of the British folk rock movement, with their seminal Liege And Lief considered one of the most influential albums of the 1960s. The band’s appearance (13 May 2017) is part of their year-long 50th anniversary celebrations, a landmark which is accompanied by new album, 50:50@50.

Acclaimed writer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Jon Boden (14 May 2017) was, until recently, lead singer with the multi-award winning Bellowhead. Away from the band, his career ranges from compositional work for the RSC and the theme to TV’s Count Arthur Strong, to the year-long A Folk Song A Day project, and collaborations with artists such as John Spiers and Eliza Carthy. His return as a solo artist is marked by the re-release of 2006’s debut, Painted Lady.

Hailing from Birmingham’s historic Conservatoire, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble headline the contemporary flavoured late night Urban Folk Night (12 May 2017), which also includes appearances from roots/ fusion combo The Urban Folk Quartet and cinematic septet The Fair Rain (both from Birmingham), Stafford’s banjo maestro Dan Walsh, and South Wales’ indie-fused Rusty Shackle.

Founded in 1997 by Joe Broughton (The UFQ, The Albion Band, Joss Stone), the 50-strong Conservatoire Folk Ensemble line-up features a 15-piece horn section, four cello players, five percussionists and five electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, double bass, even a harp! As they mark their 20th birthday, past members are to re-join the ranks for the ensemble’s biggest ever performance.

Other Imagined Isle highlights include a Family Ceilidh with Rabscallion (13 May, 10.30am), and appearances from Benji Kirkpatrick (Bellowhead, Faustus), and Boat To Row’s Michael King.

Weekend tickets, for all Imagined Isle performances, are on sale now for just £58. Individual concert tickets are also available. For more information and bookings, see: www.thsh.co.uk

FAIRPORT CONVENTION – 50:50@50 (Matty Grooves MGCD054)

50:50@50Opportunities for celebration come round with increasing frequency when you’ve been in the business as long as Fairport Convention has. The current line-up has been together for almost twenty years and before that they have a back catalogue so large that they can never hope to play it all. This year sees the band’s fiftieth birthday and the title of 50:50@50 describes its contents: seven new recordings and seven live tracks. Fairport haven’t done anything obvious, though. You’ll look in vain for the old favourites that their audiences demand they play every gig – no ‘Matty Groves’ and no ‘Meet On The Ledge’.

The album opens with the first of Chris Leslie’s new songs, a return to his favourite maritime themes. ‘Eleanor’s Dream’ feels like a sequel to ‘Lord Franklin’ and indeed it mentions Lancaster Sound, part of the fabled Northwest Passage. But Lady Franklin was Jane so Chris has given us a puzzle. The first live track is ‘Ye Mariners All’, originally from Tippler’s Tales, recorded at The Mill in Banbury, venue for the famous Cropredy warm-ups. In fact the band returns to the tradition on this album more than they have done in recent years.

‘Step By Step’ is a pretty but rather slight song and it’s followed by ‘The Naked Highwayman’ also live and a real vocal tour de force by Simon Nicol. So far so not unexpected but don’t sit back and relax just yet. Ric Sanders has re-recorded his ‘Danny Jack’s Reward’ subtitled “expensive version!” with a host of friends, woodwinds and brass and a guest appearance from Joe Broughton. It’s a superb reading of the piece but the surprises aren’t over yet. Next is another live track, ‘Jesus On The Mainline’, with Fairport taking on the role of Robert Plant’s backing group!

I’m not sure if Chris Leslie’s ‘Devil’s Work’ is autobiographical – I can’t see a professional musician doing manual work any more hazardous than fettling a fiddle. That’s another puzzle he’s set us. The next live track, ‘Mercy Bay’, is another of his epic sea songs and that’s followed by ‘Our Bus Rolls On’, a song in praise of the band. It’s a bit twee for my taste but if you can’t blow your own trumpet when you’re fifty when can you? A rewrite of ‘Angel Delight’ would have been great fun – Simon and Peggy remain from the original but I expect that their tastes have matured over the years.

Next is a superb live version of ‘Portmeirion’, possibly the best I’ve heard, and then another surprise. Fairport Convention don’t really do traditional songs like they used to but here is a new addition, ‘The Lady Of Carlisle’, with lead vocal by Jacqui McShee followed by a live version of ‘Lord Marlborough’, originally recorded a mere forty-six years ago. Unexpectedly, PJ Wright contributes ‘Summer By The Cherwell’ – self-referential, of course, but I can see it being a live hit at every Cropredy from now on.

The final live track and the album’s closer is another surprise. Guess what it might be and I bet you won’t say ‘John Condon’. This is a sensitive, thoughtful reading of the song as befits its subject matter with Gerry Conway’s brushes holding the rhythm but not intruding on Ric’s fiddle or Simon’s vocals. One second thoughts, a song of reflection is an appropriate way to send this set. We all have more to look back on than look forward to.

Dai Jeffries

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 FAIRPORT CONVENTION 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: www.fairportconvention.com

‘Mercy Bay’ – live at The Union Chapel:

Petula Clark to headline Fairport’s Cropredy Convention

Petula Clark

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention music festival announces four more acts to complete the roster of nineteen previously announced.

Petula Clark will headline on Friday 11 August. With three Grammy Awards and millions of record sales to her name Petula’s stellar career stretches back to 1949 yet Cropredy will be her first-ever UK music festival appearance.

Petula Clark’s string of Top 40 hits in the UK and around the world includes ‘Downtown’, ‘I Know A Place’, ‘My Love’, and ‘This Is My Song’.

“We’re really proud to be the first British festival that Petula has played,” says Fairport bassist and Cropredy co-organiser Dave Pegg. “I saw her show in Birmingham recently and it blew me away – she is a wonderful live performer. I was surprised how many of her hits I knew and her contemporary songs are really great too. Our audience will love her, I’m sure.”

The Trevor Horn Band plays on Thursday 10 August. Considered to be one of the most influential record producers in popular music, Trevor Horn started his career as a bass guitarist. A co-founder of The Buggles (Video Killed The Radio Star), he has gone on to work with – among many others – Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Seal, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and Genesis.

For Cropredy, Trevor will front a 14-piece all-star band featuring fellow producers Steve Lipson and Lol Creme. The setlist will be packed with songs the trio have produced – between them they’ve had over 200 hit singles – and there may be guest appearances from some of the musicians they have worked with.

Quill take the stage on Friday 11 August. A six-piece fronted by the charismatic Joy Strachan-Brain, the Birmingham-based band embraces many influences in its energetic brand of Celtic-hued rock.

Also appearing on Friday, CC Smugglers play good time music inspired by American and world folk. This exciting young six-piece of talented multi-instrumentalists perform with infectious enthusiasm.

As well as the four acts announced today, Cropredy announced the first fifteen in December. Between them, the nineteen acts will present more than thirty hours of live music over three days.

Other artists appearing include:

Feast of Fiddles, Show of Hands, The Divine Comedy, Gerry Colvin, Gigspanner Big Band, CC Smugglers, Pierce Brothers, Judy Dyble and the Band of Perfect Strangers, Plainsong, Cats In Space, Marillion and Dougie MacLean.

Festival website: http://www.fairportconvention.com/