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.

Robb Johnson live at Lodsworth

Robb Johnson live
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

19th November 2016

The last time I heard Robb Johnson live was the London Gentle Men show, an acoustic, thoughtful story of the Great War and its consequences inspired by the experiences of his grandfathers. This was very different – Robb the rocker, the man who could front a Clash tribute band. The My Best Regards band are superb. There’s the mighty bass of John Forrester; Robb’s son Arvin who looks like an angel and drums like a demon and Jenny Carr on a slightly cheesy looking keyboard which, due to marvels of modern technology, produced some wonderful sounds including the electric organ that underpinned many of the songs. Then there’s Robb playing a vintage hollow-body Les Paul; what’s not to love?

I noticed very soon that Robb didn’t introduce a single song by name which means that I took some very bizarre notes although the songs from My Best Regards are still fresh in the mind. His introductions were sometimes a bit cryptic but the story behind ‘Better Than TV’ is almost better than the song. Afterwards, I blagged a set list but there doesn’t seem to be enough titles on it. Robb did remind me that they slipped in ‘We Hate The Tories’ in the middle: thanks Robb, I got that one.

They opened with a Johnson classic, ‘Night Café’ followed by ‘Here Goes Nothing’, the title track of last year’s album, ‘Bay Of Angels’ and ‘Carrying Your Smile’. The first track from the new album was ‘We All Got Wings’ followed by ‘Suzy’s Party’ (another off-the-wall intro) and ‘Dear Franz’.  Robb is very disparaging about the folk scene these days which is a shame because folk clubs were, and still would be, receptive to his songs (although ‘The Mystery Beat’ wouldn’t be welcome at Cecil Sharp House, so perhaps he has reasons for his negativity) so ‘Sidmouth Promenade’ is a bit of dig at the middle-classness of folkies. Shame: ‘Hollingdean Lullabye’ should be sung every day somewhere. Their final encore was ‘The Magic Tonight’ which was an excellent summary of their show.

Ed Goodale
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

Support for the evening was Ed Goodale, a fine young singer-songwriter from Sussex, aided by his brother Ollie on cajon. I was immediately taken with his songs, which is unusual because I normally have to take my time getting into a new writer. The cajon is a bit limiting over a long set, although Ollie is a very fine player and they need to expand the percussion vocabulary. I haven’t heard Ed with his full band yet so that’s next on the list.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.robbjohnson.co.uk/ / http://edgoodale.com/

ROBB JOHNSON – My Best Regards (Irregular Records IRR100)

my best regardsRobb Johnson, dubbed “the last of the genuinely political songwriters”, has released more albums than probably even he can count. By my reckoning My Best Regards is his thirty-third, not counting re-recordings and compilations and the thing is, the quality never falls. Even Bob Dylan had his off days.

The opening track is ‘September 1939’ and I thought how clever that is: taking the period of the phoney war, as it was known, and pointing out that on both sides nothing had really changed. Ah, but then Robb moves the story to the present day and we see what he’s really driving at. With ‘A Hollingdean Lullabye’ goes straight for the jugular as a response to the fuss made over the Cambridge’s children. Hollingdean is a children’s centre where Robb once worked, one that is still open, and he points out that although babies born there don’t have it so good there are many off in worse circumstances.

Robb’s finger is always on the political pulse and the subjects of ‘When The Tide Comes In’ and ‘The Future Starts Here’ are obvious but some songs have to picked at until they unravel. ‘Dear Franz’ links Kafka and the Prague Spring but brings Tesco into the argument and ‘A Whole Lot Less’ is ostensibly a song of lost love but there’s a lot more to it – “Second class and second best” is a recurring line. This is one of the album’s rockers with Jenny Carr’s keyboards, John Forrester’s bass and Robb’s son Arvin on drums. If you hear Robb in folk club you might forget that he can rock like a good ‘un. The upbeat mood continues with ‘Better Than TV’ – I’m still trying to figure that one out – and the even heavier ‘That Mystery Beat’ which sound like something by Rush except for Robb’s vocals.

Three songs are repeated in different versions. ‘When The Tide Comes In’ has an additional Arabic vocal courtesy of  Reem Kelani and ‘The Sidmouth Promenade’ and ‘The Future Starts Here’, featuring Brighton’s Hullabaloo Quire, both stick it to the right-wing in no uncertain terms. There isn’t a bad song and I haven’t mentioned ‘Babbacombe At The Closing Of The Day’, a delightfully cynical song that’s typical of Robb’s style, or the Cohenesque ‘A Room In The House Of Love’. If you have read this far, you’ll probably want to buy this album and I urge you to buy another from Robb’s back catalogue as well. It’s what I do.

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 ROBB JOHNSON – My Best Regards 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.

Artist’s website:  http://www.robbjohnson.co.uk/

A live set by Robb from 2011 (parental guidance required):

Robb Johnson releases new album

Robb Johnson
Photograph by Hari Johnson

Robb Johnson is widely recognised as one of the UK’s finest songwriters.

“An English original”, (Robin Denselow, the Guardian) … “one of our best singer-songwriters ever” (Mike Harding)… “Robb Johnson keeps folk music relevant & thought-provoking” (The Living Tradition).

His songs are covered by many singers, from folk legend Roy Bailey & cabaret diva Barb Jungr, to floor singers & folk club regulars. & Robb’s song suite Gentle Men, his family history of the First World War, is a particular career highlight – “a wonderful mixture of the political and personal…A really moving piece of work”  (Billy Bragg), “a folk classic” (The Guardian). The November 2015 release of a live song & spoken word recording of Gentle Men – A Solo Performance, was described as “Intense, engaging & very moving” (fROOTS).

In 2016, PM Press in the US released A Reasonable History of Impossible Demands, a 5 CD career-to-date box set to unanimous critical acclaim –

“packed full of well-crafted songs…a magnificent retrospective” (R2), “one of this country’s most important songwriters (no argument!)…a powerfully literate emotional sensitivity at work…this is one real essential purchase” (fROOTS), “He can be lyrical, he can explore the personal & emotional just as effectively as he can propagandise… his body of work can stand alongside anyone’s” (The Living Tradition).

Now, a new album of thirteen songs, My Best Regards, is out right now. It features pianist Jenny Carr & bassist John Forrester, who worked together on 2013’s recording of Gentle Men, & Robb’s son Arvin on drums & percussion. The songs cover a wide spectrum of subjects; from the personal to the political, & the shared points in between, from birthdays to migrations, from late night bus stops to the Sidmouth promenade, from Babbacombe Model Village to Franz Kafka & Prague, & involve among others new babies in Hollingdean, MP’s 10% pay rises, & Turkish red wine & charity shops in Broadstairs.

The album also contains different versions of 3 of the songs – 2 recorded with Brighton’s Hullabaloo Quire, & one song, ‘When the Tide Comes In’, recorded with the Palestinian singer Reem Kelani. Robb says: “It is always difficult to be objective about a new album, but I think this one may well turn out to be particularly good.

Robb will be touring the UK in October to celebrate the release of this album. At the end of the month he will be playing some gigs in Belgium, and there are plans for more international tours in 2017.

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 Robb Johnson 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.robbjohnson.co.uk

‘The Night Café’ live in the studio with the My Best Regards band:

What A Week

SidmouthSo, we’ve come to the end of a fantastic celebration of 60 years of the folk, dance and song festivals in Sidmouth. What a week!

We have been blessed with summer holiday weather, helping to create a joyful festive atmosphere throughout the town  – busy, colour-filled streets, packed venues and a bustling seafront. Tens of thousands of visitors have filled the streets and venues throughout the week, enjoying the welcoming, party atmosphere.

Even when it did rain, the packed out open-air 60th Anniversary Old Swan Band ceilidh was very swiftly moved indoors as the heavens temporarily opened on Tuesday night… and up-and-running again in no time.

We have enjoyed some cracking performances, from the sell-out Ham Concerts from the likes of Ralph McTell, Oysterband and Steve Knightley to the small traditional sessions to the full on roots mayhem of Danish party band Habadekuk, the family fun at Blackmore Gardens, or the ever popular John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition! Diversity is the bedrock of Sidmouth FolkWeek. And for our 60th birthday, we had it in bucket and spadefuls: our ‘something for everyone’ promise being more than fulfilled and venues throughout the town full to the brim! Continue reading What A Week

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