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.

SUNJAY – Black & Blues (own label SLCD01501)

Black & BluesIt’s a testament to the appeal of these songs that a young man such as Sunjay Brayne finds his spiritual, or at least musical, home amongst them.

Black & Blues is Sunjay’s fourth album, this one recorded completely solo in one day by Eddy Morton. Much of the material will be familiar although the energetic opener, ‘Drop Down Mama’, was new to me and I haven’t heard ‘You Don’t Learn That In School’ that often despite its history with Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. The familiarity is part of the charm, of course. ‘Duncan & Brady’ is a classic tale of murder that never tires and ‘Pallet On The Floor’ is one of those easy-going blues songs in which the singer seems oddly content with his lot.

‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ is another old song that enjoys periodic revivals. Big Joe Williams first laid claim to it and since then it has been recorded by everyone from The Orioles to Them and AC/DC. Sunjay takes it back to basics but he can’t resist adding a second guitar part which echoes the song’s later incarnation as a rock classic.

Sunjay is a young man with a young man’s voice yet to acquire the gruffness and world-weariness of someone who has been there, done that but could never afford the T-shirt. His dynamism and enthusiasm for the music together with his technical skill as a guitarist more than compensates.

Dai Jeffries

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.

Artist’s website: www.sunjay.tv

Sunjay’s Introducing session:

EDDY MORTON – Rainbow Man (New Mountain Music NMM 2015/2)

Rainbow ManRainbow Man is Eddy Morton’s fourth solo album since the demise of The Bushburys and it finds him cast in the role of neo-sixties troubadour. Heaven knows there is plenty of scope for sharp song writing.

The title track is resolutely American and inspired by real people. Eddy does a great accent, an amalgam of mid-West and West Midlands, and as I played the album for the first time I heard more Americanisms than are actually present. That may have something to do with ‘Emily’ which can trace its lineage back to 1965.

After ‘Rainbow Man’ come three songs that address our current situation. ‘The Battle For Stourbridge’ – where Eddy lives – is in part a tribute to the working narrow-boats that crossed the country from Liverpool to Boston. Beneath that is a song that will resonate all over the country about the fight between people who know what they want and the bureaucracy that tells them otherwise. ‘In London Town’ is a classic contrast between a “have” and a “have-not” and ‘This Is War In Any Other Name’ covers just about every other obscenity committed by this government.

It’s not all political diatribes, though. There are reflective songs on episodes of life; songs like ‘When The Circus Comes To Town’ and ‘On The Journey From The Schoolhouse’ and meditative pieces like ‘When I’m Gone’ and ‘Angels Never Cry’. Eddy’s band includes Andy Jones on fiddle and Trevor Spinks on Dobro, providing the Americana with Aidan O’Brien’s uilleann pipes used sparingly but to great effect and a guest appearance by rising star Sunjay.

This is a record to groove along with. I think Eddy has done it again.

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 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.newmountainmusic.com/eddy-morton

SUNJAY – Sunjay (New Mountain Music)

SunjayBorn in Derby and now living in Stourbridge, Sunjay Brayne has apparently been playing guitar since he was four. Still only 20, this is his second studio album (there’s also a live one) and he’s a regular on the folk and acoustic circuit. Having caught one of his sets, I can testify to his accomplished playing and warm, singing style and can well understand the comparisons to a young Ralph McTell. Indeed, Brayne’s influences are very much rooted in the late 60s and early 70s folk scenes of the UK and America, something evident from the choice of covers that comprise the bulk of his album.

Here you’ll find faithful readings of James Taylor’s ‘Close Your Eyes’, Jim Croce’s uptempo blues swing ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’, a fiddle, cello, banjo and mandolin arrangement ‘Going Down The Road’ by folk cult figure Mary McCaslin and Tom Rush classic ‘No Regrets’ (with some nicely understated fiddle from Katriona Gilmore) as well as the slightly more recent ‘Memphis In The Meantime’ by John Hiatt (though it could do with more grit) and Mark Knopfler’s ‘Sailing To Philadelphia’ with its cello contribution from Sarah Smout. He also offers his own arrangement of traditional blues rag ‘Drop Down Mama’, though, as with the a capella handclap and stomp reading of Buskin and Batteau’s ‘A Folk Singer Earns Every Dime’, his voice and delivery simply lack the experience and depth to give them real conviction.

The two remaining numbers are originals, the album opening with ‘London Road’, a song about homelessness written by producer, manager, label owner and erstwhile Bushbury Mountain Daredevils frontman, Eddy Morton, and featuring Dan Walsh on banjo while ‘Sittin’ On Top Of The World’ is a wistful self-penned acoustic end of relationship folk blues ballad. Accompanied by Gilmore, it’s a lovely number, beautifully delivered, that makes you wish there were more of his own songs rather than relying on familiar tunes that may earn gig rapport, but which don’t really work in his favour on disc in terms of reaching a wider market. Hopefully, next time round, there’ll be more of his own material and although he could perhaps do with a little more seasoning to his voice to add a little occasional edge, he’s an accomplished player with a relaxed engaging style and I look forward to seeing him develop.

Mike Davies

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.

Artist’s website: www.sunjay.tv

Sunjay sings John Martyn: