The 2019 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2019 Folking Awards and thank you again to everyone who participated this year. The nominations, were in eight categories, and came from our ever-expanding team of writers and were collated into shape by the Folkmeister and the Editor over a pint or two, which also involved, a few arm-wrestles and a spot of beer-mat aerobics, in a convenient local watering hole.

There were five nominees in each category, all of whom have impressed our writers during 2018.

As we said last year, all are winners in our eyes, as are quite a few who didn’t make the short list. However, it’s not just about what we think, so once more, it was down to you, our ever-growing readership, to make the final call.

We will now compile the results and announce the winners of each category at some point next week.

*The Public Vote for each category closed at 9.00pm on Sunday 31st March (GMT+1).


Soloist Of The Year

Keith James
Reg Meuross
Rachel Newton
John Smith
Andy White


Best Duo

Gilmore & Roberts
Daria Kulesh and Jonny Dyer
Ninebarrow
Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar
Winter Wilson


Best Band

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Merry Hell
Skipinnish
Trials Of Cato
The Young’Uns


Best Live Act

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Grace Petrie
The Salts
Martin Stephenson & The Daintees
Andy White


Best Album

A Problem Of Our Kind – Gilmore & Roberts
The Well Worn Path – Seth Lakeman
The Joy Of Living – Jackie Oates
Queer As Folk – Grace Petrie
Hide And Hair – Trials Of Cato


Best Musician

Martin Harley
Aidan O’Rourke
Marina Osman
John Smith
Richard Thompson


Rising Star

Burning Salt
Robert Lane
Kitty MacFarlane
Smith & Brewer
Vision Thing


Best International Artist(s)

3hattrio
Tyler Childers
Mary Gauthier
Kíla
Larkin Poe


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Gráinne Holland releases her first album of original songs

Gráinne Holland

Corcra is Gráinne’s first album of her own original songs. It was produced by renowned musician Brian Finnegan, recorded by Seán Óg Graham and features the best of Irish and Scottish musicians including Aidan O’Rourke, Liam Bradley, Brendan Mullholland and Cormac Mac Carthy. When it comes to the songs, the stunning opener is ‘Mise Agus Tusa’, meaning me and you, a beautiful song written for her husband Frainc, Harry’s, a song about her father which she wrote shortly after his death in 2007 and ‘Lonn Dubh an Gheimhridh’ which describes the sadness that we often experience in winter when the days grow shorter, the trees lose their leaves and everything seems to sleep. Gráinne wrote this song about just that feeling. On a lighter note we have ‘Miracle’, written after the birth of her first son and ‘Béal Feirste’, a tribute to her home town of Belfast.

Born and raised in Belfast, Gráinne’s love of Irish music and song began at an early age. A product of the Gaelic language revival in the North of Ireland, she was brought up with both Gaelic and English and attended the first Gaelic-medium school in Belfast. It was here that her love of traditional song was fostered.

Gráinne released her debut album of traditional songs with contemporary arrangements; Teanga na nGael in 2011 to great critical acclaim. She followed it up with a second studio album Gaelré in 2015 which was published under the Gael Linn label. Gráinne has toured and performed at many major festivals both at home and abroad. She is also a successful producer and presenter in Irish language media.

“Gráinne’s voice soars and swoops and glides like a swallow in the sublime Irish summer sky” Damien Dempsey

Artist’s website: www.grainneholland.com

‘Lonn Dubh an Gheimhridh’ – official video:

LAU – Midnight And Closedown (Reveal REVEAL078CD)

Midnight And ClosedownFollowing their tenth anniversary retrospective Kris Drever, Aidan O’Rourke and Martin Green return with an album of new music and Midnight And Closedown is certainly new.

It opens with a stunning song, ‘I Don’t Want To Die Here’. Drever says that the album is about islands and the listener is left imagining some God-forsaken lump of rock out in the ocean or wondering whether “here” refers to a state of mind or circumstances. Paul Simon wrote ‘I Am A Rock’ about just such a man and that theme is at the forefront of Midnight And Closedown. A long fiddle intro resolves into another song, ‘She Put On Her Headphones’ – the modern method of isolation – and that is followed by ‘Toy Tigers’ which I’m still deciphering. That’s three songs in succession: what’s going on?

‘Echolalia’ is the nearest we get to a “traditional” Lau instrumental track but even here Drever adds some la-la-la vocals and the beginning and the end. ‘Itshardtoseemokwhenyourenot’ seems to link an old and a new Lau. Martin Green’s electronic percussion pounds and Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle pulses and dances as the track briefly breaks into something resembling rock’n’roll in the middle. It really is a terrific song and is only bettered by ‘Dark Secret’. The slightly sinister lyrics seem to be about therapy, at least in part, and drinking and I can’t believe that it is in any way autobiographical. Drever sings of being “born on the Isle Of Horses” which could refer to Shetland but I don’t want to follow that trail any further.

‘Return To Portland’ is the album’s second big instrumental piece with Green and O’Rourke trading lead lines and Green doing very much what Brian Eno did back in the day. There is noticeably less accordion here than we’re used to. Finally we have the acoustic ‘Riad’, written by O’Rourke although all three share writing credits, harking back to the band’s early days.

Midnight And Closedown is as brilliant as it is unexpected. Decade was full of the power and sheer volume that characterised Lau’s earlier work but this seems like a whole new direction.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: http://www.lau-music.co.uk/

‘Echolalia’ – live:

Siobhan Miller announces her second solo abum

Siobhan MillerSiobhan Miller releases her hotly-anticipated second solo album, Strata, on February 24th, 2017.

Following her well-received 2014 debut, Flight of Time, Strata consists of eleven songs, from a variety of sources, that Miller grew up listening to and performing in her youth. All newly arranged and now recorded by her for the first time, the material reflects on her musical upbringing whilst forging her own path forward. Her vocal performances sit atop the all-star talents of some of Scotland’s finest musicians, including Kris Drever and Aidan O’Rourke of Lau and Admiral Fallow frontman Louis Abbott.

Strata’s carefully chosen material shows the many influences on Miller’s formative musical years and her personal connection to each of the songs lies at the heart of this album, with the story behind each song equally as important as the song itself. Songs passed down by Scotland’s source and revival singers – such as ‘The Unquiet Grave’ and ‘False, False; – sit alongside titles from contemporary writers that she grew up listening to, including Bob Dylan’s ‘One Too Many Mornings’ and ‘Pound A Week Rise’, penned by Ed Pickford.

It would be true to say that the album, and its selection process, is the culmination and an illustration of Miller’s musical journey to date. Whilst she has long been keen to record these songs, so too does the album fulfil a long held desire to pay tribute to Sheila Stewart, Dick Gaughan, Gordeanna McCulloch, Rod Paterson and her father, Brian Miller, by continuing to share the songs they have passed on to her. The album also features guest appearances from living legend Phil Cunningham, who performs on two tracks – including the much-loved ‘The Ramblin Rover’, written by his former Silly Wizard bandmate, the late great Andy M. Stewart.

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Artist’s website: https://www.siobhanmiller.com/

‘The single ‘One Too Many Mornings’ – official video:

Siobhan Miller – single, album and tour dates

Siobhan Miller

As a taster for the forthcoming album Strata, Siobhan Miller’s lovely, new single ‘One Too Many Mornings’ is released today.

As well as Siobhan’s wonderful vocals, the single features Aaron Jones and Kris Drever (guitar), Tom Gibbs (piano), Euan Burton (bass) and Jack Smedley (viola) This interpretation of Bob Dylan’s classic song also features vocals and drums, from Admiral Fallow frontman Louis Abbott.

A two-time winner of Scots Singer of the Year, Siobhan Miller is widely regarded as one of the foremost vocalists in Scotland. Daughter of folk musician Brian Miller and from a musical household her new album Strata sees her looking back to the songs she grew up around and that influenced her musical life. Refreshing these songs and recording them for the first time, she is joined by some of Scotland’s finest musicians including Kris Drever and Aidan O’Rourke, from Lau, and Phil Cunningham.

In support of the forthcoming album, (Due out in February, 2017) Siobhan will be touring the UK during February and March, preceded by a launch date at Celtic Connections.

Artist’s website: https://www.siobhanmiller.com/

Listen to the song:

ÁLYTH – Homelands (ANE Records CD103)

ÁLYTH HomelandsÁlyth McCormack was born and brought up on the Isle Of Lewis but now lives in Ireland and this rather beautiful album links those two Gaelic traditions. She has made numerous albums, heedless of genre, and is as well known as an actor as a musician appearing in everything from television soap opera to real opera.

The album opens with ‘The Lambs On The Greenhills’ and even if you’ve never heard this version before you will instantly recognise the family of songs to which it belongs. Actually, Ályth mixes songs familiar to English ears with those which may not have strayed south of the border or across the Irish Sea. Both ‘Carrickfergus’ and ‘Raglan Road’ are comfortably family and ‘Buachaill Ón Éirne’ is the original which loaned its tune to ‘Come By The Hills’.

Ályth’s voice can sound fragile but isn’t. Her support includes co-producer and arranger Brian Mcalpine, Aidan O’Rourke and percussionist Noel Eccles with Karol Lynch on bouzouki and Joe Csibli on double bass and even when they work up a head of steam she still soars effortlessly above them. Her puirt à beul – ‘The American Set’ – begins with a piece that was regularly sung in my earliest folk club days and I realised that I hadn’t heard it for more than forty years. Thanks for that, Ályth.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: http://alyth.net/

‘Carrickfergus’ live: