BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015 Lifetime Achievement and Good Tradition Awards Announced

Folk Awards 2015BBC Radio 2 has announced the recipients of this year’s Radio 2 Folk Awards Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The two prestigious lifetime achievement accolades will be presented to legendary musicians Yusuf / Cat Stevens and Loudon Wainwright III at the ceremony which is being held at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff on 22 April. The Good Tradition Award, for an outstanding contribution to the upkeep of a musical tradition, is being presented posthumously to the late Meredydd Evans.

800px-Yusuf-2009Renowned singer Yusuf / Cat Stevens, who will also be performing at the awards, gained worldwide acclaim for works including ‘Wild World’, ‘Father And Son’ and ‘Morning Has Broken’, which remain staples of the folk genre. Following a conversion to the Islamic faith in 1977, Stevens retired from the music business to work with and support causes in education and humanitarian relief. Yusuf / Cat Stevens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2014, subsequently releasing the album, Tell ‘Em I’m Gone. Last year also saw Yusuf / Cat Stevens embark upon his acclaimed Peace Train – Late Again international tour, including his first US dates in 38 years.

Al Booth, Editor of Specialist Music, Radio 2 said:

‘To have a musical legend of the calibre of Yusuf performing at the Radio 2 Folk Awards is a testament to the high esteem in which the event is held. I know that everyone in the folk world is looking forward to what promises to be a very special night.’

Grammy Award winning Loudon Wainwright III will also be celebrating his Lifetime Achievement Award with a live performance at the event. He said:

“I’ll be happy and gratified, not to mention a bit smug, to receive my award in Cardiff next month. Yes it certainly has seemed like an entire lifetime has whizzed by since the mighty John Peel saturated the UK airwaves in 1969 with my first songs, spinning “School Days” and “The Movies Are a Mother to Me” late at night on BBC Radio.”

LW3Loudon Wainwright III had studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University, but dropped out to partake in the ‘Summer of Love’ in San Francisco, and wrote his first song Edgar in 1968. He was soon signed to Atlantic Records and was lured by Clive Davis to Columbia Records, which released his first big hit ‘Dead Skunk’. His songs have since been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, and his son Rufus Wainwright and daughter Martha Wainwright. An accomplished actor, he has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, on TV in M.A.S.H. and Undeclared, and on Broadway in Pump Boys And Dinettes.

The 2015 Radio 2 Folk Awards will also pay tribute to the late Dr Meredydd Evans, who passed away in February 2015 at the age of 95, with a Good Tradition Award. The Good Tradition Award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to UK folk music. Meredydd’s wide-ranging contributions as a singer, historian, broadcaster and Welsh language campaigner made him a significant, respected and popular figure across Welsh culture. He recorded for the Sain label in Wales and made a classic album of Welsh songs for the American label Smithsonian Folkways during the 1950s. He was Head of Light Entertainment at BBC Wales, working both behind and in front of the camera and an important collector of Welsh traditional song. He will be posthumously honoured and there will be a special tribute performance to him by the 10 Mewn Bws, (10 in a Bus) a project that saw ten young Welsh musicians travel around Wales in an attempt to reinterpret and demystify traditional Welsh music.

The Folk Awards are hosted by Radio 2 Folk Show presenter Mark Radcliffe alongside Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis. Folk Singer Of The Year-nominated Julie will also perform on the night. Other performers are modern folk rock band The Rails who are nominated in the Best Album and Horizon Award category for the best emerging act and London based duo Josienne Clark and Ben Walker, singing from their nominated Best Album Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour. The pair has also been nominated in the Best Duo category. Welsh folk band 9Bach, who will sing in Welsh, and English folk singer Kate Rusby complete the live line up for the night.

Star guests who will be handing out some of the gongs on the night include 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews, Gavin and Stacey and Stella actress Ruth Jones and singer songwriter Billy Bragg.

The evening will also see singer, songwriter, record producer, playwright, actor and political activist Ewan MacColl inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Award Hall of Fame. MacColl played a vital role in instigating the folk song revival in Britain and is perhaps best known for his much covered songs ‘Dirty Old Town’ and ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Throughout his career MacColl produced around 300 songs and scores of albums and 2015 marks the centenary of his birth.

The Radio 2 Folk show has a weekly audience of 812,000 listeners and BBC Radio 2 has weekly reach of 15.3 million. The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be broadcast live from 7.30pm-10pm on Radio 2 and will also be simulcast on BBC Radio Wales. From 10pm to 11pm, BBC Radio Wales will be broadcasting the official after show programme presented by Frank Hennessy.

Listeners will be able to watch highlights of the awards on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after the event and also at a later date on Red Button. For more details head to bbc.co.uk/radio2

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Paper Aeroplanes set to release Little Letters on Navigator Records

paper aeroplanes 2013Little Letters’, released on May 13th, is the third album by Paper Aeroplanes. The Welsh duo – Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn – have been making serious waves around the UK, touring constantly since getting together in 2009.

Last year alone they played over one hundred dates, selling out venues across the UK and performing at a host of prominent music festivals. The long-awaited new album is their first release on the Navigator label.

Their emotionally charged music and heartbreaking vocals have already gained Paper Aeroplanes some impressive fans in the media world. “Intimate, jaunty and confident low-key pop with great melody” is how The Guardian describes their music, while radio support has come from 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, Cerys Matthews, Chris Hawkins and Lauren Laverne and Radio 2’s Bob Harris. Radio Wales are also big supporters of the duo, helping cement their burgeoning reputation in the principality.

Musically, Sarah and Richard are inspired by the likes of Laura Veirs, Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Gillian Welch, Everything but the Girl and Lucinda Williams. ‘Little Letters’ is a step away from their previous two albums, with more of a full band feel that nevertheless maintains the duo’s talent for catchy, atmospheric, folk-tinged songs. Their compositions are picturesque stories, inspired by their rural upbringing and the emotional extremes of past loves and friendships.

“We’re constantly inspired by our home towns and the stark, coastal imagery of the wild west” says Howells. “This album is about personal experiences in relationships and the inner, mostly hidden lives of people, as opposed to what you see on the surface. My main aim when writing is to express something that I would normally find hard to put into words. It’s definitely a cathartic process.”

“Whether it’s a good or bad memory, I think it’s an important process to capture those thoughts and keep them in a song-like bubble, making room for new experiences,” she remarks. “The title ‘Little Letters’ has a few different meanings for us, but I think it generally reflects the way we communicate these days – life and love in 140 characters: Texts, status updates, tweets, post-it notes, I love yous…”

The beautiful song ‘Sleeper Train’ for instance, was written while Sarah was travelling from Xi’an to Bejiing in China. “It’s about falling for a friend in the UK via text message while travelling around China” she says. “It didn’t work out once back home, but it was a very intense and memorable time”.

‘Multiple Love’ and ‘Circus’ are the most honest songs on the album, according to Howells. ‘Circus’ is about playing and making music for a living and the frustration that comes with it. ‘Multiple Love’ is about waiting for the right person and not just ‘making do’. It’s supposed to be an anthem for single people but”, she confesses, “I think it’s maybe tinged with a little too much sadness.”

‘When The Windows Shook’ is a song that was stirred by the tragedies experienced in and around Sarah’s industrial hometown of Milford Haven, the kind of small community where everyone knows each other’s names and business. In 1994 there was an explosion at one of the local oil refineries, which caused the windows in Sarah’s family home to crack, a terrifying experience for a young child. In 1996 there was the Sea Empress oil spill disaster, which made national news, killing much of the local wildlife and ruining many local beaches. Lastly, in 2011, four people died, including a neighbor, in another explosion at the Chevron Refinery in Pembroke, across the estuary from Sarah’s family home.

Aside from the musical talents of Sarah and Richard, ‘Little Letters’ features a host of top players, such as John Parker on double bass (from Nizlopi who had a UK No.1 with “The JCB Song”) and percussionist Martin Ditcham (Everything But The Girl, Talk Talk, Sade). The album was partly produced by Phill Brown (Bob Marley, Bombay Bicycle Club, Talk Talk) at Yellow Fish studio in Lewes, with much of the additional tracking taking place at Richard’s flat in Cardiff. Brown’s ‘old school’ influence is there for all to hear – the warmth of the analogue tape and the relaxed, atmospheric rhythm section recordings giving a great backbone to these 11 stunning songs.

Paper Aeroplanes’ brilliant album provides an intimate yet far reaching soundtrack to the duo’s lives; each song a ‘little letter’ full of meaningful recollections and poignant personal moments. The result is a set of songs that are honest and raw, yet crammed with melodies that resonate in your head long after the record’s finished. 

“Little Letters” is released on May 13 on Navigator Records.

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Artist’s website: https://paperaeroplanes.bandcamp.com/

Wayward Daughter – The official biography of Eliza Carthy…

Since appearing at the Vancouver Folk Festival aged just thirteen, Eliza has sung and played across the globe, recording critically acclaimed albums – including Red Rice and Anglicana, which were both nominated for the Mercury Music Prize – and collaborating with a whole host of movers and shakers including Paul Weller, Cerys Matthews, Richard and Teddy Thompson, Billy Bragg, Stewart Lee and Patrick Wolf, amongst many, many others.

She is the Wayward Daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, giants of the British folk scene. In this official biography, released on May 9 courtesy of Soundcheck Books, Sophie Parkes discovers how Eliza came to inherit the family talent and continue the family trade: reinterpreting, reimagining and renovating English traditional music, and grounding it very much in a modern day experience.

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A new mini-site providing more details about the book, including photos, podcasts and Q&As, in the run up to the release date can be found at http://www.elizacarthybook.co.uk/

Folking.com’s favourite Radio 2 moment…

The Radio 2 Folk Awards are chosen and voted for by a panel of professionals (broadcasters, promoters, festival organisers and record companies) who all work in the world of folk, acoustic and roots music. These people (now in their hundreds) are asked to nominate and vote for the people that they consider to have produced and performed the most outstanding work during the past 12 months.

For folking.com the 2002 Folk Awards was a haven for such music. It not only celebrated the pioneers of the genre but also gave birth to something very special, a new energised passion for the music and a new set of ambassadors for the tradition.

Many of the artists that pioneered the folk-culture movement in the early “noughties” were in the room on the night of 11 February 2002. There were performances from Eliza Carthy and Cerys Matthews. “The Barnsley Nightingale,” Kate Rusby, performed “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies” which she had written for the late, great singer-songwriter Davy Steel. Martin Simpson’sThe Bramble Briar”, (in my opinion one of the greatest folk albums of all time), was awarded “Best Album”. Arguably the greatest ambassador of the tradition, Martin Carthy, was awarded “Folk Singer of the Year” and the icing on the cake was having him accompany Martin Simpson on his live version of the much-missed Cyril Tawney’s classic “Sammy’s Bar”. The award for Best Group was such a close run thing that year, that either Show of Hands, Old Blind Dogs or Tarras could have pipped Cherish the Ladies to the number-one spot post. The “Guv’nor,” Ashley Hutchings, presented Nettlebed Folk Club with the “Good Tradition Award and Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull presented the “fabulous, fruity, funky, fecund, Fairport 5Fairport Convention, with a “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Best Live Act went to the rambling, constantly-touring inspiration that is Rory McLeod.

Willy Russell presented Ralph McTell, (in my view, one of the finest singer-song writer of all time), with the second of the night’s “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Jim Moir, the man that cared enough to put the money and passion behind the Folk Awards idea in the first place and the man that presided over the format and programming of Radio 2 at the turn of the century to make it the most listened to Radio Show in the country, awarded The ChieftainsIrelands Musical Ambassadors” with, the third of the night’s  “Lifetime Achievement Award”. I clearly remember the first words Jim said when he came out on stage “What an evening”. It certainly was Jim!

Out of all of the live acts mentioned above, any of them could have been chosen as a classic performance. However, I have chosen Cara Dillon’s “Black is the Colour” as my favourite of the night.

For folking.com, this performance represented the beginning of this exciting new change in folk music, as it was the first time in years that a folk artist and a traditional folk song were taking pride of place on the Radio 2 playlist. Johnny Walker, who presented Cara with the award for “Best Traditional Track”, summed it up perfectly by saying that “Cara had the courage to resist corporate pressure to commercialise her music and change it to try and get it to a wider audience and instead the audience has come to her”. This was an important point which could be cited as one of the fundamental reasons why the music is so strong today. A certain pre-Mercury Music prize nominee, Seth Lakemen (now truly an ambassador in his own right), accompanied Cara on backing vocals. The whole piece was woven together beautifully by the piano arrangements written and performed by Seth’s brother, Sam Lakeman. Darren Beech – June 2011

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