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.

Joe Boyd’s A-Z podcasts are back after a fortnight’s hiatus with “T”.

Joe Boyd's A-Z podcasts are back after a fortnight’s hiatus with “T”.

As a teenager, I was horrified by the idea of white blues singers, but modified that view when I heard my friend Geoff Muldaur successfully channelling Lonnie Johnson on a Boston coffee-house stage. I was also put off by middle-class singer-songwriters until I was bowled over by Bob Dylan in a tiny room at a Cambridge, MA party in 1963. These prejudices never evaporated entirely; for every Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell, there seem to be thousands of well-bred strummers whose cds I recycle to Oxfam. And don’t get me started on the Stevie Ray Vaughn and Johnny Winter cults! But I digress from the subject at hand…

When I arrived in London in 1964, I had already developed, then lost or modified a number of such prejudices. Before setting out for London, I had a very bad attitude about English folk music. (I know, some of you, my dear English readers, still have a bad attitude about your own folk music; if so, perhaps you’d better skip this newsletter and wait for the next one…) I have written elsewhere about having these views confounded by an encounter with the Ian Campbell Group and Dave Swarbrick, and then by Norma and the rest of the Watersons. (White Bicycles,Ch. 7). But when I went to the famous “Singers Club” in Farringdon, there was Ewan MacColl singing shanties with a finger in one ear, conforming to the humourless stereotype prevalent across The Pond. MacColl had notoriously barred Bob Dylan from singing at the club; only songs from whence you came were allowed! His rigid, snotty attitude was just as advertised and I never went back to The Singers’ Club.

Around the same time, producer Bill Leader took me to small basement flat just down the road from MacColl’s club to meet a man from the opposite end of the class and stylistic spectrum of British songwriters. Sydney Carter was eccentric, middle-class, donnish, kind, off-hand and idealistic (He had worked in an ambulance corps in WW2 rather than fight…). He wrote poetry and taught a bit, but his primary source of income seemed to be fees and royalties from writing songs with Donald Swann of the Flanders and Swann comic duo. (Economic guru Stephanie Flanders is the daughter of the other half of that team.) I was entranced by his odd, off-hand songs. When I returned to London a year and a half later to open the Elektra Records office, I took Sydney into the studio to make an EP “The Lord of the Dance”. The title song was to become his most famous, gleefully sung by happy-clappy liberal Christians the world over. But don’t hold that against him! Like Springsteen’s “Born In The USA”, which became a red-neck anthem despite the ironic lyrics, “Lord” is a secular sceptic’s attempt to portray Christ as the very human founder of a cult of joy and ecstasy (which is pretty close to how it actually was until killjoys like St Paul got ahold of it). I think my EP was the first recording of “Lord”, but I wish the God-botherers had been quicker off the mark with the title song; the EP might have sold better and not been a black mark against my track record with the Elektra bosses back in New York. (If anyone has a copy and wants to sell it or make me a digital version, I would be very grateful; it’s the only one of my productions not in my collection.)

A series of concerts last year took me back to Year Zero of my exposure to the London folk scene. In April, there was a tribute to Carter (who died in 2004) in a small, medieval theatre adjoining the Porter’s Lodge at Balliol College, Oxford. One driving force behind this event was Martin Carthy, a longtime supporter who accompanied Sydney on that 1966 Elektra EP (and who shared my dislike of MacColl). Martin led a great group of singers in the canon of Carter songs, including my personal favourite “Taking Out the Dustbin in the Gray’s Inn Road” as well as his anti-war song, “Crow on the Cradle”, for years a staple at Jackson Browne concerts.

The other instigator was Stephen Sedley, whom I met in my first years in London. He grew up a folksong buff; his lawyer father represented many folksingers as well as Topic Records. Sedley now teaches law at Oxford, having retired from the bench after a heroic career championing human rights as a Lord Justice of Appeal, a member of the European Court of Human Rights and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. (After I introduced a girlfriend to him at a Human Rights Lecture, she told me it was far more impressive and thrilling than the time I introduced her to Mick Jagger.)

Earlier last year, I impulsively purchased a train ticket to Glasgow to hear some of my favourite singers pay tribute to one of my least favourite songwriters. Celtic Connections had brought together Norma Waterson, Chaim Tannenbaum, Martin Carthy (who knows a good song when he hears it, regardless of who wrote it), Jarvis Cocker, Eliza Carthy, Dick Gaughan, Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile) and Karine Polwart to honour the long-deceased (1989) MacColl’s memory. One attraction for me was that the evening was curated by Ewan’s sons Neil and Calum and Neil’s wife Kate St John. Working with those three in various combinations on my own live tributes to Nick Drake and Kate McGarrigle has been an unalloyed pleasure. And there was in the back of my mind the nagging thought that if he had such great kids, maybe it was time for a reassessment…

The concert was terrific. Chaim and Norma stole the show with their renditions of “My Old Man”, “Go Down You Murderers” and “Shoals of Herring” (Tannenbaum) and “The Moving On Song” (Waterson). Sitting in the audience, I was forced to admit the old crank wrote a lot of great songs, full of anger and passion and wonderful folk-based melody. Even the often-corny “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” sounded pretty good in Buchanan’s hands.

But another reassessment was also slowly dawning in my prejudiced mind. Researching my world music book, I’ve discovered a hero-figure in Dimitri Pokrovsky, the man who defied Soviet ideologues to revive regional Russian folk music. Cultural specifics are anathema to authoritarian regimes; they prefer broad generalities and the music that expresses them (the Soviet Moiseyev Ensemble being the archetype). The Right-Left divide in politics these days often comes down to denial vs acceptance of facts. Local music is the equivalent of factual research. Pokrovsky was not only opposed to Soviet kitsch, but he peered into the future and recognized the dangers of post-Soviet Russian nationalism; he refused to call any folk song “Russian”. They were ‘from Voronezh’ or ‘Irkutsk Oblast’, never “Russian”.

At a time when cultural battles are being waged over what it means to be “British”, or “English”, MacColl’s strictures that you should sing songs from your home territory begins to seem like a good idea, an antidote to the kitsch clichés of UKIP and the Tories. And when I went to give a talk at the English Folk Expo last year, I found many wonderful musicians fully committed to the notion of local music, usually their own. It was inspiring, and yet another reason to give the old finger-in-his-ear crank a respectful reappraisal: he might have been right after all!

The Glasgow concert was such a success that they took the show on the road in November and the London show was, again, terrific. I hope a few of you got to see it. And I am so glad I bought that train ticket last January; Norma Waterson’s health has taken a turn for the worse and it’s hard to say when we’ll hear her sing like that again.

It was nice to see Jarvis Cocker and Norma bonding backstage. I remember the 1996 Mercury Prize awards, when the jury announced a deadlock between Pulp’s “Different Class” and Norma’s solo record for Hannibal. They gave it to Pulp in the end, but Oasis had also been nominated, and I’ve saved the Daily Mail headline “Grandmother beats Oasis in Mercury Prize Vote”.

Tribute concerts have sprouted like toadstools in recent years, but for me, 2015 was a vintage year because of those celebrations of two eccentrically British songwriters. They were based only a few hundred yards from each other along Roseberry Avenue, but between them there was a chasm of class, attitude, style and personality. Somehow, last year, they seemed quite nicely balanced, resonating beautifully across the decades, never to be forgotten.

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Easy as pie at www.joeboyd.co.uk – click on a letter and the ten-minute podcast plays.
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On-line reviews of the A-Z podcasts…

“Digestible wisdom for all”
by electrophreek
Joe Boyd is one of the titans of music production and his hard fought insights into the nature and scope of global music are among the finest you will ever encounter. This is the bench mark of music podcasts and the standard by which all should be judged.
“Brilliant”
by modal d
Exhilarating, mesmerizing, poignant. That such a pivotal figure, responsible for so much music I love, would take the time to put together this series is just an incredible gift. Listen!

Nick Drake – as you’ve never heard him before

Nick Drake 5 leaves leftUniversal Music has just launched a brand new range of ultra-high quality audio releases, titled, High Fidelity Pure Audio, that use Blu-ray technology. Titles, including Nick Drake’s Nick Drake, are all available now.

High Fidelity Pure Audio is the exciting new range of physical HD audio products from Universal Music Group which uses Blu-ray technology to deliver the ultimate listening experience to the user. High Fidelity Pure Audio discs are playable through all Blu-ray devices including Blu-ray Players and games consoles, allowing the consumer to experience the sound as it was intended by the artist. No compression, no compromise. A download voucher is also included in-pack which gives the consumer a digital download of the album in MP3 format at a standard resolution ensuring they can also access their music on the move, on devices which don’t support HD audio.

Because of the increased size and bandwidth available on a Blu-ray Disc, music can be offered in its purest quality without the compression that is required for 16bit CD releases and lower resolution digital formats. Consumers have a choice of several different sound formats including PCM, Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio at 2.0 and 5.1 surround sound (where available).

Universal Music Group is committed to offering high quality audio to the discerning consumer and has selected a wide range of repertoire showcasing some of the most iconic talent the music world has ever seen. Artists with releases already on the format include Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Nirvana, Queen, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder. There is also a vast selection of classical and jazz music including Jonas Kaufmann, Rolando Villazón, John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson.

“We are very excited about the potential for High Fidelity Pure Audio, allowing music lovers to experience the work of artists in a way that has never before been possible,” says Olivier Robert-Murphy, Global Head of New Business at Universal Music Group.  “Once you hear High Fidelity Pure Audio you can feel the full richness and depth of an artist’s vision.”

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.

NICK DRAKE Five Leaves Left

Poverty stricken students of 1968 rolled their own – not for them the cigarette temptations of a pack of 10 Embassy, no, their tobacco thrills came hand rolled, usually in Rizla papers which kindly reminded the participant that they were about to run out, with a yellow interleaf paper with bold red type stating ONLY FIVE LEAVES LEFT.

Nick Drake’s bucolic autumnal shades in his debut album of a similar name, heralded a new signing for Island Records: not traditional enough to be folk, not weird enough to be psychedelic, Drake avoided the pitfalls of what was expected and collaborated with producer Joe Boyd, orchestrator Robert Kirby and recording engineer John Wood to make a singular and almost unique record released to a largely indifferent media.

A few leaves fell in the right place and Nick’s reputation grew, despite his early death at 24 in 1976, escalating into the world-wide fame he enjoys today. Released initially only on vinyl and cassette, these formats became redundant with the dawning of CD and downloads – leaving a gaping hole that was filled by high collectors prices for original pressings and the inevitable poor quality bootlegs.

Island Records now complete the ReDISCovered vinyl set on Nick Drake with this boxed faithful replica of his debut album. As before, it was remastered from the original un-eq’d quarter inch master tapes by John Wood at Abbey Road Studios and pressed using wholly analogue processes onto 180 gsm virgin vinyl. The sleeve is an exact replica of the first edition of the album and is coupled with a period shop poster, lyrics to two of Nick’s songs and options to download the tracks in MP3, Hi-Res FLAC files or the new DFD (dubbed-from-disc) files for that authentic listening experience.

KEY FEATURES:
•         Mastered from original master-tapes at Abbey Road Studios by original engineer John Wood
•         Analogue Pressing onto 180GSM audiophile virgin vinyl
•         Gatefold sleeve, inner sleeve, paper labels
•         Original shop poster
•         Reprint of Nick’s handwritten lyrics to two songs
•         Digital download/ card- 3 Formats: lo and hi res plus Dubbed-From-Disc

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.

Two very exciting pieces of Nick Drake news…

WAY TO BLUE THE SONGS OF NICK DRAKEThe first, is that WAY TO BLUE – THE SONGS OF NICK DRAKE is released on Navigator Records, April 15, 2013.

The concet features Teddy Thompson, Vashti Bunyan, Green Gartside, Robyn Hitchcock, Lisa Hannigan, Scott Matthews, Krystle Warren, Danny Thompson and many more and was recorded live in London and Melbourne.

“Every week, somewhere in the world, singers gather in clubs and halls to sing the songs of Nick Drake. It is sobering to think that more people now hear his songs in a month than ever heard them in his lifetime.” – Joe Boyd

Undoubtedly one of the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years, Nick Drake found little mainstream success during his lifetime; however, since his untimely death at the age of 26, his fragile acoustic, autumnal music has touched the hearts of millions of people.

Over the years since Drake’s death, his original producer Joe Boyd has explored the possibility of producing an album in tribute to his songwriting. But despite many well-known artists wishing to participate, he always resisted, because it seemed the only practical way to accomplish it would be for each artist to supply a track recorded separately, with their own chosen musicians.

Boyd felt that the only way to avoid the pitfalls of the typical Tribute Album would be to have everyone together for a week in a rural studio, backing each other with harmonies and guitar parts, creating an organic whole of an album. By performing Way To Blue fifteen times over the course of four years, he has accomplished something resembling his original dream.

The songs have been honed and shaped over the course of time, and the spirit of togetherness among the Way To Blue company has proved inspiring to all participants.

The recordings on this new CD are the edited highlights of concerts in London and Melbourne; the interpretations provide evidence, if such evidence was ever needed, of the timeless depth of Nick Drake’s qualities as a songwriter. The result is an album with the quality of a studio production and the spontaneity of a live performance.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) 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.

Writing in the album sleeve notes, Joe says,

“Selecting singers has been one of the most rewarding parts of this exercise. One criterion was that none of them should sound like Nick.Vashti Bunyan is the one singer who actually knew Nick. I tried to get them to write songs together, but should have known that two such self-contained people would have trouble provoking one another into a collaboration. Since that time, the arc of Vashti’s career has been almost as remarkable as Nick’s, with the gratifying difference that she has survived to enjoy the late (but not too late) adulation of a generation of singers, songwriters and fans.

Robyn Hitchcock was too young to know Nick, but not by much. He grew up, he says, “with his nose pressed up against the glass of the Sixties” and has carved out a brilliant career, bringing to his own songs and his interpretations of Dylan, Syd Barrett, the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake a genuinely original evocation of the mad spirit of those years.

Shortly after the Birmingham Town Hall show, as I was preparing a concert of Incredible String Band songs at the Barbican, I learned that Green Gartside, whose Scritti Politti recordings I had loved in the ‘80s, wanted to come and ‘play some back-up guitar or sing harmony’. I asked him whether he was equally fond of Nick Drake. You can hear the response in his performance of “Fruit Tree” on this cd.

Lisa Hannigan is a magnetic and melodic singer with clever, thoughtful songs. I had but to mention Nick to her and she was on the team. Her wild take on “Black Eyed Dog” brought down the house the first night and has done so ever since.

Scott Matthews, a Midlands singer-songwriter who went from small clubs in Wolverhampton to earn an Ivor Novello Award, sell 80,000 copies of his debut cd and duet and tour with Robert Plant. The passion and power of his version of “Place To Be” has all the more impact for the fact that it sneaks up on you.

Krystle Warren is an African-American woman with a powerful voice and impeccable taste who loved Nick and wanted to sing “Time Has Told Me”.  I saw in her the realization of a dream I had from the time I first heard Nick’s demo of  the song and was convinced it should be Roberta Flack’s follow-up to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”.

Teddy Thompson is the talented son of my old friends and colleagues Richard and Linda Thompson. Teddy has his mother’s exquisite phrasing and sense of humour and his father’s intensity. Teddy’s seemingly effortless rendering of “Riverman” became one of Way To Blue’s highlights.

When we received an offer to tour Australia, we decided to bring six singers with us and add two locals. The male choice of Shane Nicholson was easy – he has become one of Australia’s favourite singers, winning award after award. Shane slotted easily into the show and delivered the impeccable “Poor Boy” you hear on the cd.

The female voice proved more difficult until I discovered the mesmorizing singing of Australian Zoe Rendell who with Steve Hassett, comprises the duo Luluc. The lineup was complete.

From his characteristic entry at the start of the second verse on “Things Behind The Sun”, many will recognize the “Danny Thompson feel” underpinning Way To Blue. A jazzer, he has lent his skills to dozens of my productions and hundreds of albums by artists across the pop, folk and jazz fields. Nick loved Danny, both for his playing and for the way he teased and cajoled him, never letting him retreat into his shell, drawing laughter from him whenever they met.

Nick was never a folkie and some from that world have been uncomfortable with his privileged education and accent. Yet Neil MacColl, son of that founding anchor of British folk, Ewan MacColl, is the most supremely accomplished virtuoso of the impossibly complex Drake guitar parts. Which needn’t be that much of a surprise – his mother Peggy Seeger is a banjo and piano virtuoso who can startle the uninformed by playing brilliant renditions of Debussy and Scriabin!

Kate St John insisted on Zoe Rahman for the piano chair. Zoe has been a revelation.  She is a jazz player, but her own albums deftly weave in the music of her Bangladeshi heritage; making the leap to the very English art-song of Nick Drake seems just another effortless step accomplished with the fluency of a virtuoso devoid of any hint of jazz cliché.

Guitarist Leo Abrahams warmed my World Music heart by adding the Ukrainian bandura to his adventurous use of effects. When he was unable to make the Australian tour, Steve Jones proved a more than able deputy. He shares with Leo a background of working with Brian Eno and composing film scores.

Also bringing World Music chops to the party is drummer Martyn Barker, who performs with the Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara duo as well as Billy Bragg and Beth Gibbons.

Each concert featured a section of seven string players. The personnel have altered with each tour, but first violins Oli Langford and Jules Singleton have provided brilliant leadership and all the British, Italian and Australian players have given us wonderful energy and have clearly loved playing Robert Kirby’s and Kate St John’s arrangements.

The sadness of honouring a poet who died so young was compounded when Robert Kirby passed away as we were preparing for the first Way To Blue tour. Robert was a classmate of Nick’s at Cambridge; the musical context of Nick’s first two albums is that of a collaboration between two friends. He took Nick’s music on its own elegant terms and created a body of work that has lasted far past both his and Nick’s life spans.

It would be impossible to imagine Way To Blue without Kate St John. Her impeccable taste on accordion and cor anglais combine with her arrangements and direction to provide the glue that holds this diverse project so sweetly together.”

NICK DRAKE BRYTER LAYTER REMASTERED AND BOXED VINYL EDITIONThe second piece of news is that the NICK DRAKE – BRYTER LAYTER – REMASTERED AND BOXED VINYL EDITION is OUT 29TH APRIL 2013 ON UNIVERSAL MUSIC CATALOGUE

Continuing the ReDISCovered boxed vinyl series of Nick Drake’s albums, Island Records presents his second album BRYTER LAYTER in a format similar to that used for the release of Pink Moon in 2012.

The album itself is a near exact replica of the original 1970 release, pressed on heavyweight audiophile vinyl, and remastered at Abbey Road from master tapes by the album’s original engineer John Wood.  Although the first generation master tapes were found to be unusable, Wood had made a safety copy of the album in 1970 and it is from this that the new album has been struck.

The vinyl comes in an Island card inner bag in a single pocket textured sleeve just as the original release would have done. In addition it is housed in a box containing a copy of the original shop poster, a smaller ‘Live’ poster/brochure and a reprint of Nick’s handwritten set list together with reproductions of the master tape reel and tape box lids.

The album comes with a selection of downloadable electronic formats, including either high-resolution files, the usual MP3 files or unique Dubbed-From-Disc files for that authentic play-back experience.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) 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.

Vinyl