Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012 give Lifetime Achievement Awards to…

Folk legends Don McLean and The Dubliners will both be given Lifetime Achievement Awards at BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards 2012, to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday 8th February.

Presenter Mike Harding announced the recipients of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards on the Radio 2 Folk Show on Wednesday 18 January (7-8pm).

Jeff Smith, Head of Music for Radio 2 and 6 Music said:

“Radio 2 is committed to featuring folk music as part of our specialist music output, so we’re delighted to be holding the Radio 2 Folk Awards in Salford this year, and that listeners will be able to also watch the ceremony. Both The Dubliners and Don McLean are much loved by the Radio 2 audience, and I’d like to congratulate them on their well-deserved awards.”

Mike Harding said:

On The Dubliners – ‘When The Dubliners virtually invented the Dublin pub music scene 50 years ago, they changed the face of Irish music forever. They were exciting and different, with a real whiff of danger about them. In Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew, they possessed two truly charismatic singers of a rare quality. Barney McKenna and John Sheahan, who remain with the group to this day, are indisputably world class musicians. Hugely influential and deeply loved at home and abroad, The Dubliners are responsible for countless definitive recordings and I’m delighted that Radio 2 is honouring their immense contribution to folk music.’

On Don McLean – ‘The truly great songwriters, who create works of such quality that they become standards across genres, are owed a debt of gratitude by the music world and I think it’s fantastic that we’re presenting Don McLean with this award.’

Don McLean is one of America’s most enduring singer-songwriters and is forever associated with his classic hits American Pie and Vincent (Starry Starry Night). Since first hitting the charts in 1971, Don has amassed over 40 gold and platinum records world-wide and, in 2004, was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

Don McLean said:

“I thank the BBC for thinking of me and honouring me with this award. The UK audience has been among the most loyal for over 40 years and without them certainly I wouldn’t be considered for this honour, so I thank the BBC and I thank the British public”

The Dubliners changed the face of Irish traditional music when they formed in Dublin in 1962. Half a century later, they continue to be one of the best-loved and most recognisable of Ireland’s folk groups, responsible for definitive versions of Ireland’s greatest ballads – Whiskey In The Jar, The Wild Rover and The Rocky Road To Dublin. For a lot of people around the world, The Dubliners are Irish music, and Irish music is The Dubliners.

This is the 13th year of the awards, which were created to celebrate the UK’s folk scene, and the first year the Radio 2 Folk Awards will be broadcast from the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays. In addition to being broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, the awards will also be available for fans to watch live on BBC Red Button.

The awards, which are produced by production company Smooth Operations, will be hosted by BBC Radio 2 Folk presenter Mike Harding, alongside singer Julie Fowlis. Lifetime Achievement Award winners The Dubliners and Don McLean will be playing at the event. Other artists who will be performing on the night are Christy Moore, The Unthanks with the Brighouse and Rastrick Band, Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman, Tim Edey & Brendan Power and June Tabor & Oysterband.

One of the other prestigious awards of the night – the Roots Award, awarded in recognition of an outstanding contribution to Folk Music from a Grass Roots level upwards – will be presented to Malcolm Taylor OBE. Malcolm is the Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society. He’s receiving the Roots Award for his outstanding contribution for over 30 years of service.

Malcolm Taylor said:

“I am surprised and honoured to be receiving this award. The real star of the show is the Ralph Vaughan Williams Library itself. I am absolutely delighted to be accepting the award on behalf of the library and archive collections.”

Among this year’s nominees are June Tabor & Oysterband who have picked up four nominations for Best Group, Best Album for the album ‘Ragged Kingdom‘, Best Traditional Track, for ‘Bonny Bunch of Roses‘ and June Tabor has been nominated for Folk Singer of the Year. Sisters The Unthanks have also received four nominations for Best Group, Best Live Act, Best Album and Best Original Song. Other short-listed artists include Martin Simpson who has three nominations for Best Album, Best Traditional Track and Musician of the Year.

The Folk Awards ceremony will once again be combined with The BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, which is given to the most promising young folk artist in the UK.

Simon Mayo will be bringing his Drivetime show live from The Lowry Theatre in Salford ahead of the Radio 2 Folk Awards. He’s joined by his very special guest Don McLean who will be performing live on the show ahead of the event. In an extended programme, Simon also showcases live music from some of the other nominees and brings a flavour of what the night has in store.

Listeners can watch the Radio 2 Folk Awards live by using the BBC interactive Red Button service and pressing the red button from any BBC TV or Radio Channel. Or by going online to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/

Highlights of The Radio 2 Folk Awards will remain on BBC Red Button and the BBC Radio 2 website for viewers to enjoy for seven days after the event.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Transatlantic Sessions 4 (Whirlie Records DVD03)

You can tell from the photo on the sleeve of “Transatlantic Sessions 4” that this DVD is going to be something special. It depicts Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas broadly grinning at each other as if they were the cats that had got the cream and who could blame them? In the illustrious company of amongst others; Karan Casey, Rosanne Cash, Phil Cunningham, Julie Fowlis, Donal Lunny, Mike McGoldrick, Donald Shaw, Emily Smith and James Taylor it’s enough to make any real ‘folk’ enthusiast salivate at the very thought of what lies in the little black box. As a musician myself, there’s a feeling of jealousy but then again, who wouldn’t want to be part of such an astonishing gathering. To coin the vernacular, “…they must have been freezing their nuts off!” wouldn’t I suspect be too far from the truth but the musicians collective warmth for each other would be enough to power a small sun. Onto the content itself and really it’s a case of where to begin? The title credits encapsulate everything by bringing a sense of wonder with stunning views of chilly rivers and a beautiful Scottish vista all within 28 seconds (and yes, I did set my stop-watch to time it) utilising Douglas trademark dobro, gently brushed snare drum, Uilleann pipes and fiddle. This in itself is enough to draw the listener/viewer in and get your feet tapping with the expectant thought of what is about to emerge phoenix like (this is the 4th series) from this box of treasures. The glue that holds everything together is of course the chemistry between the musicians and the main protagonists in this respect are fiddler Ali Bain and the astonishing accompaniment from Jerry “We are not worthy” Douglas. The camaraderie of everyone involved is a welcoming sight/sound and the collaborative juices flow without any sense of awkwardness just a mutual respect for each other and the obvious delight of working in such exalted company. The songs and tunes are painstakingly crafted and so too are the contributions of all the technical staff. In particular I’d like to point out the professional integrity of all involved (something you don’t see too often in the ‘folk world’) in providing such a banquet of audio and visual delights directed by Mike Alexander and produced by Douglas Eadie. Particular mention in despatches must go to the splendid eye for photography of Mark Littlewood, Derek Ritchie’s lighting and Allan Young’s superb mastery of capturing the sound so well. I’d also like to extend a round of applause to George Brown for making this four-hour extravaganza available via the Whirlie Records catalogue. If you can’t tell from this short review how blown away I am with this double disc DVD then do yourselves a favour, rifle through your bank account (I know how difficult that is in the present climate) and treat yourself to some tangible ‘magic’.

PETE FYFE

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Artist website: http://www.whirlierecords.co.uk/