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 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
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

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
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 helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

NINEBARROW – Releasing The Leaves (own label)

Releasing The LeavesReleasing The Leaves is the second album from Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere, aka Ninebarrow. Jon and Jay are from Dorset and the landscape and history of the county inform and inspire their songs and music.

The first track, for example, is inspired by a 13th century chapel near Worth Matravers. ‘The Pinner’ is the story of a woman who works all her life at the craft of pin-making hoping to make a perfect example. The legend tells that women would place trinkets, especially pins in the chapel while wishing for their heart’s desire. It takes the mind of a real songwriter to avoid the obvious tale of a woman who is cruelly misled or, alternatively, finds her true love in this manner. No, this lady wishes for perfection.

‘For A Time’ is a much more modern tale, that of Tyneham, the village commandeered by the government in preparation for the D-Day landings. Again Jon and Jay avoid the obvious and tell the story through the recollections of an old man – a former resident. ‘To The Stones’ is inspired by a long barrow near Abbotsbury and ‘Blood On The Hillside’ comes from observing a murder of crows and extrapolating the old nursery rhyme into something more sinister. The duo’s use of a reed organ emphasises the creepy story.

Amongst the original compositions are a number of traditional songs, each one memorable in its own way. ‘Lord Exmouth’ is a tale from the Napoleonic wars extolling the virtues of Admiral Pellew and sung in a heroically simple style. ‘Weave Her A Garland’ is from Folk Songs Of The Upper Thames, which necessitated the boys writing their own tune and ‘Back & Sides’ is the song of begging and ale given a charmingly rustic setting. ‘Three Ravens’ is well known but none the worse for that and ‘Dark Eyed Sailor’ is one of the great broken-token ballads and one with a happy ending – William doesn’t get handbagged for testing her like that.

A booklet of lyrics, song notes and photographs is free to download and is well worth doing – happily, Ninebarrow sent me a pukka printed version. You can enjoy this fine album without it but go on, spoil yourself.

Dai Jeffries

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

Artists’ website:

‘For A Time’ – live:


A round-up of EPs and singles that came our way

SINGLES BAR 21 Sep 2015HEATH COMMON’s new EP, Beatsbox, is released to tie in with Still Howling, a performance and symposium centred on Allen Ginsberg’s infamous poem. Common turns his very individual attention to stories of Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ginsberg and his own beginnings as a wannabe Beat. ‘Still Howling’ is a somewhat jaundiced look at the International Poetry Olympics of 1985. Common has a full band, The Lincoln 72s, with him plus special guests on ‘Basquiat And Warhol’ and the nostalgic ‘The Busking Bodhisattva’.

SINGLES BAR 21 Sep 2015JACK TEMPCHIN used to write hits for The Eagles and the title track of his EP, Room To Run might lead you to think that not a lot has changed since then. ‘Jesus And Mohammed’, however, suggests deeper thinking – it’s not a totally new idea but the thought of the Christ and the Prophet wondering what more they can do certainly is. ‘The High Cost Of Hate (Let’s Make Some Lawyers Rich)’ is a brilliant country parody: “I’m a cheatin’ bastard and you’re a selfish bitch” and ‘Summertime Bum’ provides a laid-back conclusion.

SINGLES BAR 21 Sep 2015ANTUN OPIC is a German/Croatian multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter with a voice that dips into Tom Waits/Beefheart territory. Shovel My Coal is an EP with a big band that’s heavy on brass and snarling guitar and bass from Tobias Kavelar. The four tracks pack in so many ideas that it’s hard to tell where he’s coming from or where he’s going sometimes. ‘The Journalist’ is heavy in a conventional western way while ‘Hide & Seek’ is much more Eastern European and not a little creepy, a mood that carries over into ‘Come With Me’.

SINGLES BAR 21 Sep 2015RAINBREAKERS are a blues/rock quartet based in Shrewsbury and their home turf appears to be most of the northwest and west of England. Blood Not Brass would seem to be their first EP and embodies a classic, almost 60s sound with modern flourishes. Think of Blodwyn Pig meeting The Black Keys and you’re about there. Not Folking’s usual territory, we grant you, but they are a band worth listening to.

SINGLES BAR 21 Sep 2015NINEBARROW are a young duo of whom great things are being expected. Their single which combines an original song, ‘The Pinner’, with the traditional ‘Dark Eyed Sailor’ is a taster for their second album, Releasing The Leaves, due for release next spring.

Their chosen instruments are harmonium and mandola with the addition of cello on the first track. Their harmonies are effortless and there is a naturalism about their style that makes ‘Dark Eyed Sailor’ sound both old and contemporary at one at the same time. Their treatment of the song sounds simple but the little changes of pace and emphasis they bring to it really grab the attention.

SINGLES BAR 21 Sep 2015TOD HUGHES PROJECT from Calgary make their debut with an EP, Changing Gears. It’s country-rock in the classic style, that is, the line-up includes Hammond, piano and clavinet alongside guitar, bass and drums – know what I mean? ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Follow Your Heart’ roll along nicely but I was hoping for something deeper from ‘Brad’s Song’ – there is a story behind the story and we’re only getting hints of it. ‘Just Sing’ is a nice philosophy although not a great song but Tod redeems himself with ‘The Quiet’ which plays out with some lovely keyboards and ‘The Only Person Who Won’t Drink With Me Is You’ is an out-and-out boogie to round off the set.

The Armistice Pals

armistice pals header non internetEveryone remembers the charity version of ‘Perfect Day’ with its myriad of voices from the pop and rock world.

Let’s hope everyone will also remember the upcoming answer from the Folk World – ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ – with a plethora of voices from across the acoustic folk and roots spectrum representing the great and the good, young and the old, seasoned and emerging, all on the same single. The group is called The Armistice Pals and is releasing a fitting tribute to Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year as well as marking the 100 years anniversary of the breakout of the First World War. All profits will be distributed between four peacekeeping charities.

Continue reading The Armistice Pals