The Folking Awards – the 2017 Winners

Folking Award winners

So here they are: the Folking Award winners of 2017.

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who voted – more than 20,000 votes were cast. Congratulations to the winners and commiserations to the runners-up, although all our nominees are winners to the writers who enjoyed their music, either live or on record, over the last year and placed them on the short list. Here are the public vote winners and now, may I have the first envelope please… no, not that one!

Soloist of the Year – Ralph McTell

Folking Award winners

Listen to the Darren Beech/ Paul Johnson interview with Ralph at Cropredy 2016 here

Best Duo – Show Of Hands

Read all about Show Of Hands’ Big Gig at the Royal Albert Hall here

Best Band – Harp And A Monkey

This was a very close vote but we’re delighted that Harp And A Monkey triumphed in the Best Band category even though they narrowly beat another of our favourites.

Harp And A Monkey bio

Best Live Act – Mad Dog Mcrea

In contrast, this was a runaway victory for the band from Plymouth.

Read Su O’Brien’s review of Mad Dog Mcrea live at Cambridge City Festival here

Best Album – Ballads Of The Broken Few by Seth Lakeman with Wildwood Kin

Read Mike Davies’ review of Ballads Of The Broken Few here

Best Musician – Phil Beer

Phil Beer bio

Folking’s Rising Star Act – Said The Maiden

Said The Maiden bio

Best International Act – Applewood Road

Applewood Road bio

As before, there are no actual trophies to present (but if anyone would like to tender for making some in the future please let us know). However, everyone on the long lists and on the short lists as well as the winners can rejoice that they made an impression on a lot of people during 2016.

Have another great musical year!

The Folking team


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.

Standing ovations for Show Of Hands’ Big Gig

Big Gig
Photograph by Darren Beech

England’s premier folk duo Show of Hands, once described as “the most famous unknown band in Britain”, brought the house down at the Royal Albert Hall on Easter Sunday with a ‘pull all the stops out’ show marking their milestone 25th year.

Singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumental wizard Phil Beer took to the stage of the iconic London venue for the fifth time with a memorable milestone gig which prompted two standing ovations.

Some 5,000 fans descended on the capital not just from all over the UK but also from Canada, France, Holland, Belgium and Germany.

The first band to ever hold a raffle at the Albert Hall maintained the tradition, raising £4,355 – the most ever – for chosen charities MIND and Great Ormond Street Hospital & Children’s Charity, the main prize being a beautifully crafted cello mandolin made by SoH’s Devon-based instrument makers Oddy Luthiers.

One of British folk music’s most popular acts – and two of the most active ambassadors in the acoustic arena – Knightley and Beer were joined by long-term guest Miranda Sykes on double bass and vocals.
A dramatic opening saw the performance of Knightley’s spellbinding song ‘Widecombe Fair’ with Beer appearing high in the organ loft playing an eerie fiddle.

They were soon joined by the Devon’s 30-strong Lost Sound Chorus for the moving ‘The Old Lych Way’ about the ancient Dartmoor trackway along which coffins were carried. The choir returned throughout the evening to swell the sound on some of the band’s best known songs and numbers from most recent albums Centenary and The Long Way Home.

Also taking to the “Kensington village hall” stage were top mandolin player Rex Preston, 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’ winners Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin and Canada’s hugely entertaining Matt Gordon & Leonard Podolak, their fiddle and banjo music punctuated by outbreaks of clog dancing (joined by Mr Knightley!) and “hamboning” (traditional African American body percussion).

Long-time collaborator, composer and keyboards player Matt Clifford, who famously worked with The Rolling Stones, added to the sound as did Devon teacher Chris Hoban, who has penned some of Show of Hands’ more recent songs including the epic ‘Katrina’ (also performed on the night).

Towards the end of the first set, there was a surprise appearance by renowned Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter who read Siegfried Sassoon’s To Victory in his inimitable way before a performance of the WW1 song ‘Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire’ while Alice Jones was a solo Morris dancer in ‘Twas on One’s April Morning’.

Steve Knightley also announced a £150,000 crowdfunding appeal to bring an extensive Shrouds Of The Somme art installation to the capital.

Last year Somerset artist Rob Heard painstakingly hand stitched calico shrouds onto 19240 12 inch figures representing every Allied soldier who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme – making a powerful artwork that was seen in Exeter and Bristol. Knightley was closely involved in the unique project, serving on the committee.

Now Heard has embarked on making more than 70,000 shrouds to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 2018 – commemorating every soldier who died at The Somme with no known grave. It is hoped to display the new work in London for Armistice Day (November 11) next year. The crowdfunding campaign will launch on May 10. shroudsofthesomme.com

Show of Hands’ “anthems” ‘Country Life’, ‘Roots’, and banker-baiting ‘Arrogance Ignorance And Greed’ were all on the set list as well as the traditional favourite ‘The Blue Cockade’. Their trademark ‘Cousin Jack’, about emigrating Cornish miners, was the rousing finale before they stepped back on stage for Knightley’s “hard to believe it’s not traditional” number ‘The Galway Farmer’ and a rousing ‘Santiago’ with the whole company on stage.

A lavishly illustrated 224-page hard-backed souvenir book marking the band’s 25th year went on sale on the night, entitled No Secrets –A Visual History of Show of Hands.

Tying in with this, the Knightley-penned single ‘No Secrets’ was released on Friday (April 21) via Amazon and iTunes. Says Steve: “This started live as a piece of advice for a friend getting married but it is also apt as the ethos of our business and it became the backdrop to the book.”

Show of Hands 25th year continues with a busy UK festival schedule (including Folk by the Oak, Underneath The Stars, Wickham, Sidmouth, Cropredy, Towersey) before a newly announced tour of English cathedrals this autumn (Oct 4-Nov 8), from Chichester to Carlisle, supported by young singer songwriter Kirsty Merryn.

Big Gig
Photograph by Judith Burrows

Artists’ website: www.showofhands.co.uk

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.

Towersey Festival announces headline acts

KT Tunstall Towersey

KT Tunstall, Newton Faulkner, Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden, are set to headline the 53rd Towersey Festival (25-28 August 2017, Thame, Oxfordshire). They’re joined by Show Of Hands, Lindisfarne, The Blockheads and Foy Vance, amongst others.

Scotland-born and Los Angeles-based, KT Tunstall came to prominence with her 2004 debut Eye To The Telescope, which earned her BRIT and Ivor Novello awards, in additional to Grammy and Mercury Prize nominations.

Her recent album, 2016’s Kin, exemplifies the very best of guitar pop. The diverse collection includes a duet with KT fan James Bay, the raucous rebellion of ‘It Took Me So Long To Get Here, But Here I Am’, the call to arms of ‘Hard Girls’, and lilting album closer ‘Love Is An Ocean’.

Newton Faulkner boasts two number one albums. His debut, Hand Built By Robots, knocked Amy Winehouse off the top spot in 2007, and he returned to the top again in 2012 with Write In Your Skin. His recent fifth album, Human Love, saw the once dreadlocked troubadour expanding his classic singer-songwriter influences with sounds from other cultures.

Eliza Carthy’s The Wayward Band line-up features some of the UK’s very best acoustic and roots players, including musicians associated with the mighty Bellowhead, Mawkin, Blowzabella, Emily Portman Trio, and more. Their just-out debut album, Big Machine, is a big album from a big band, earning Eliza her highest chart placing!

Jon Boden is perhaps most recognisable as the lead singer (and one of the principal arrangers) of the multi-award winning Bellowhead, one of the most exciting live acts of recent years. The band played their last ever music festival show at Towersey in 2015 before retiring last year, allowing Jon to continue with his lauded and diverse solo career.

With founder member Rod Clements still at the helm, 1970’s folk rock pioneers Lindisfarne’s songbook features such tracks as ‘Meet Me On The Corner’, ‘Run For Home’, ‘Lady Eleanor’ and ‘Fog On The Tyne’, while The Blockheads’ many hits include ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3’, ‘What A Waste’, and ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’.

Irish singer/songwriter Foy Vance has worked with such artists as Sheryl Crow and Ed Sheeran (co-writing several songs on Ed’s X album). Recorded in Nashville, Foy’s latest collection, The Wild Swan, was released via Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records, and lists Elton John as executive producer.

Other Towersey 2017 highlights include Gary Stewart’s stunning recreation of Paul Simon’s seminal Graceland album, and appearances from BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 nominees Megson (Best Duo) and Jim Causley (Singer Of The Year), plus a guaranteed slot for the winner of the Young Folk Award category.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “We have another great mix of artists this year, including BBC Radio 2 favourite KT Tunstall, as well as such Towersey stalwarts as Jon Boden, Eliza Carthy and Show Of Hands, who have visited the festival many times over the years.

“We’re very excited by our full line-up,” continued Joe, adding that there’s been a real buzz around the festival this year. “Off the back of a successful 2016, we’ve already sold out of both our Tier One and Tier Two tickets, so we know our audience is really looking forward to Towersey 2017 as much as we are.”

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from 25-28 August 2017 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now with Adult Day Tickets from £30, Youth £21, Child £14, under 5 free. Tickets for the full festival are £126-£57 (Tier 3). For further information, and to book tickets, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

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/