BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – the winners

Radio 2 Folk Awards

Leonard Cohen inducted into Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame
Dervish and Wizz Jones win Lifetime Achievement Awards

The winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019 have been announced in a ceremony presented by Mark Radcliffe at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester as part of the Manchester Folk Festival. The ceremony was also broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.

The full list of winners

The Horizon Award for best emerging act – presented by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Brìghde Chaimbeul

Musician of the Year – presented by Blue Peter’s Lindsey Russell
Seckou Keita

Best Original Track – presented by comedian, writer and musician Rich Hall
I Burn But I Am Not Consumed’, written by Karine Polwart and Steven Polwart

Best Duo or Group – presented by Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita

Best Traditional Track – presented by award winning author, Joanne Harris
The Foggy Dew’ by Ye Vagabonds

Life Achievement Awards were given to:
Wizz Jones – presented by singer and founding member of The Hollies, Allan Clarke
Dervish – presented by journalist and BBC Breakfast presenter, Steph McGovern

Best Album – presented by musician and songwriter Graham Gouldman, of 10cc
Hide And Hair by The Trials of Cato

Folk Singer of the Year – presented by actor and comedian, Miranda Richardson
Ríoghnach Connolly

Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame
Leonard Cohen

During the evening, contemporary folk musician and singer Maddie Morris, who is based in Leeds, was presented with the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. It was presented to her by folk duo and former winners of the award, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar.

The Radio 2 Young Folk Award is an educational talent contest, open to musicians from the UK aged 16-21, that exists to discover the next generation of folk and acoustic acts. Eight shortlisted acts performed at a public concert at the HOME venue in Manchester on Tuesday 15th October and from those acts, Maddie was chosen as the winner by a panel of judges. This year marks the 21st annual Young Folk Award.

Leonard Cohen was inducted to the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame, joining such past greats like Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Woody Guthrie, Ewan MacColl and Cecil Sharp. Leonard (1934 –2016) was a Canadian singer best known for his seminal song, Hallelujah (1984) which has been covered by over 300 vocalists including John Cale, Jeff Buckley, k.d. Lang and Alexandra Burke.  He embarked on a world tour in 2008-2010, which saw him perform on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival (2008) and in 2018, he won a Grammy Award for best rock performance for You Want It Darker, joining the likes of David Bowie and Ray Charles who have also received awards posthumously. The BBC Two documentary Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love, which tells the beautiful yet tragic love story of Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

As a tribute, singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore performed Cohen’s 1984 song, ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’, during the ceremony at Bridgewater Hall this evening. Thea, who has just released her 16th studio album at 39 years old, has gathered a host of high-profile advocates from likes of Bruce Springsteen and Joan Baez to Neil Gaiman. Her latest album, Small World Turning, is an entirely independent album that echoes the changing political and social landscape of 2019 Britain.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 said: “A huge congratulations to all of the winners at the Radio 2 Folk Awards tonight. I am delighted that at Radio 2, we can keep celebrating the very best of folk music every year, and we’re honoured to have witnessed such an array of sensational performances on stage this evening in Manchester.”

Lifetime Achievement Award winners Dervish, who performed at the ceremony this evening, have been bringing Irish traditional music to the world for 30 years, and have played at festivals across the globe – from Rock In Rio to Glastonbury. The band features some of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians, and is fronted by one of the country’s best known singers, Cathy Jordan.

Shane Mitchell from Dervish says: “We are thrilled and so delighted to be receiving this very special honour at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, particularly as this is the 30th anniversary of the band.”

Influential folk and blues guitarist Wizz Jones, also a winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award this year, is admired and emulated by some of folk and rock’s greatest players. On the 1960s club scene, he was an early influence on the likes of Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart. Bruce Springsteen is among the artists to have covered Wizz’s songs. At 80 years old, he still tours the country, regularly performing live with his son, Simeon Jones, and fellow guitarist Pete Berryman. Wizz also performed at the Radio 2 Folk Awards this evening.

Wizz Jones says: “I am so surprised to get this award so thanks a million to whoever suggested it!”

Opening the show was Manchester band Edward II, who fuse English and Jamaican influences. Young English voice Kitty Macfarlane joined the band on stage. There were also fantastic performances from Welsh-Senegalese duo Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, English folk singer-songwriter Kate Rusby and O’Hooley & Tidow, who performed their song Gentleman Jack, which featured in the BBC One TV show of the same name. Dervish were also joined on stage during their performance by Kate Rusby, for a version of Down By The Salley Gardens, which then exploded into thrilling Irish tunes.

Mark Radcliffe was also presented with a special Folk Award during the ceremony this evening by Ralph McTell, to celebrate his 40 years in radio. Mark started at Piccadilly Radio in 1979 as an assistant producer of drama and classical music, then in 1981 presented his first show, titled Transmission. In 1983 he become a producer at BBC Radio 1 and went on to present the Breakfast Show and Afternoon Show with Marc Riley, before joining Radio 2 in 2004 where, in 2007, he began co-hosting The Radcliffe & Maconie Show with Stuart. And in 2011 they joined the BBC Radio 6 Music family. Mark presents The Folk Show on Radio 2 on Wednesday evenings, 9pm-10pm.

The Radio 2 Folk Awards will be available to listen to for 30 days after the live broadcast on BBC Sounds. Plus, selected highlights can be heard the following week on BBC Radio 2’s The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe (Wednesday 23rd October, 9pm-10pm).

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards are produced by 7digital.


Wickham Festival 2017 Interview

Wickham Festival site

Darren Beech caught up with Peter Chegwyn just before the festival and had a chat about what we could expect from Wickham this year.

Many of the UK’s finest traditional singers and musicians appeared at the Wickham Festival near Fareham which took place between Thursday 3rd and Sunday 6th August.

They included Seth Lakeman; Show of Hands; Oysterband: Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band; Kathryn Tickell; The Peatbog Faeries; The Fisherman’s Friends; Lau; Edward II; Boo Hewerdine; The Dhol Foundation; The Spooky Mens Chorale; Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe; Wizz Jones; Talisk; Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party; Les Barker; TradArr plus many more.

Also appearing at Wickham 2017 were the 70s chart-toppers 10cc; top Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall; Festival favourites The Levellers; plus Andy Fairweather-Low & The Low Riders; John Otway; The Selecter plus many more well-known names.

The Wickham Festival was voted the UK’s Best Small Festival at the Live UK Music Awards in 2015 and has also been described as one of Britain’s top boutique and family-friendly festivals by The Guardian newspaper.

The festival featured live music on four stages plus a host of other attractions including storytelling, street theatre, dance displays, childrens entertainers, a digital funfair, laser arena, traditional crafts fayre, exotic foods fayre, real ale & cider festival and a late night festival club.

Festival organiser Peter Chegwyn says it’s “a real coup for a small village festival like Wickham to attract so many top artistes who have performed at major music festivals throughout the world.

“The Wickham Festival is known for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and the high quality of the music on offer. People travel from all over the UK and abroad to attend. This year’s ticket sales are running at a record level and we are confident that our 10th birthday festival at Wickham will be our best yet.”

I couldn’t finish without putting up one of Peters favourite videos from the Gosport and Fareham Easter festival back in 2010 when Alan Burke dedicating “I will go” to the man himself.

Wickham Podcast link:

Festival website:

EDWARD II – Presents Manchester’s Improving Daily (Cadiz Music E2MID1819)

Manchester's Improving DailyStarting life as a series of pop up gigs by the city’s acclaimed folk/roots reggae outfit and other artists constructed round the Manchester Ballads, a collection of thirty five broadside ballads dating from the industrial revolution which, collected by two local folk music enthusiast historians, was published, with backing from Manchester City Council, in the form of facsimile prints of the original penny broadsheets, alongside background to the songs and, as required, a dialect glossary.

Providing a snapshot of Mancunian life in the industrial era, they now form the basis of this new album, the band’s first full length release of new material in 15 years, contemporary arrangements of several of the ballads also featuring Bury-born broadside balladress Jenifer Reid who provides four a capella or spoken excerpts, three taken from her own album, ‘The Langley Linnett’, The album opens with 38 seconds from The Testimony of Patience’, a song about a 17-year-old girl’s life working in the mines also recorded by The Unthanks, before the band, still fronted by the warm tones of Glen Latouche, launch in with the title track, a melodically cascading, melodeon wheezing celebration of the city’s changing fortunes.

Next up, introduced by a gypsy violin flourish, is the rock steady groove of ‘Ragbag’, an 1861 commentary on the exploitation of drinkers by greedy, lying landlords. What follows sees a departure from the core broadsides concept in the band’s jaunty, horns led version of ‘Dirty Old Town’, although, written by Ewan McColl about the harsh living condition in Salford, it gels perfectly with the social and personal histories elsewhere on the album. I’m not persuaded the same argument can be applied to the other more modern cover, a reggaefied take on New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’, tenuously justified by the fact Joy Division used to sing their own songs of Mancunian life at a venue in the heart of the historic ballad centre. But, what the hell, it’s a great version.

Returning to the source, opening on a burst of melodeon, ‘Soldier’s Farewell To Manchester’, written around 1800, concerns a soldier looking to bed his girl before going off to war, promising to marry her the next day, she offering to let him do as he will and then join him in disguise. Similarly lighthearted, ‘Victoria Bridge on a Saturday Night’ celebrates a typical weekend goodtime of drinking, market stalls, revelry, “good things and bad” on the bridge over the Irwell which today links the cities of Manchester and Salford. Maybe it’s me, but it sounds almost like a Squeeze song. Then there’s ‘Mr. Sadler’s Balloon’, a musically clumping celebration of the first balloon flight in the country by James Sadler in 1785.

By contrast, several of the ballads are far more serious, addressing politics and troubled times. The five minute ‘The Great Flood’, for example, is a dub-reggae paced account of the 1872 tragedy that overwhelemed central Manchester when the Medlock burst its banks, washing coffins and bodies out of the ground. Others address the civil unrest and uprisings that marked the struggles of workers for improved conditions and the right to vote, the slow, moody ‘Peterloo’ concerning the peaceful gathering of August 16, 1819 that ended in a bloody massacre and the following, jauntier and lengthier titled, ‘A New Song on the Great Demonstration which is to made on Kersal Moor, September 24th, 1838’, referencing the Chartist rally that occurred in its wake.

The exploitation of workers and the fight for better pay continues with the catchy sprightly lurching ‘A Humorous And Interesting Dialogue’ between an employer and employee with its message refrain to masters who keep their wages low to “never keep your workmen down and use them manfully.” The album ends with ‘The Execution of Allen, Gould and Larkin’ which, those up on their 19th century British history will know refers to the so-called Manchester Martyrs, Philip Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O’Brien (referred to as Gould in the press of the time), three members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood who were hung on Sept 18, 1867 for being part of a gang (two others who were acquitted) that attacked a police van transporting two of the movement’s leaders, during which a sergeant was killed. The notice of their execution was published as a pamphlet featuring the ballad recounting their fate, but here it appears as an instrumental, with the Manchester Session Strings, in the style of an Irish air.

Lavishly packaged with a 48 page book in which social archaeologist David Jennings provides an informative commentary on the ballads and the times, it’s a terrific piece of work, both musically and in a historical context, a reminder of what folk music is actually all about.

Mike Davies

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