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.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2019/folk-awards-winners

 

THE LOST WORDS – Spell Songs (Folk By The Oak QRCD004)

Having held the unofficial job title “wordsmith” in various contexts for several decades, I was not going to miss the opportunity of hearing and reviewing an album with the title The Lost Words: Spell Songs. Especially as one of the highly-talented musicians involved in the project is Karine Polwart, whose Laws Of Motion CD I reviewed with some enthusiasm here.

It turns out that this is a multi-faceted project with a complicated backstory. Some years ago, the Oxford Junior Dictionary began to replace some of the words it defined with words that were considered to be more in keeping with the lives led by children today, so that words relating to religion and to the natural world – like bird and flower names – were replaced by words related to various aspects of information technology (for example). Robert MacFarlane was one of 28 authors – among the others were Margaret Atwood, Michael Morpurgo, and Andrew Motion – who wrote to Oxford University Press asking them to reconsider, specifically with reference to words “associated with nature and the countryside“. (I don’t intend to get into that argument here, but the OUP’s argument is that while the number of words included in the OJD is a limiting factor, the kind of words that critics want restored do feature in their much-expanded range of dictionaries for children.)

MacFarlane then went on to write a poetry book called The Lost Words: A Spell Book, published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, with watercolour illustrations by Jackie Morris. As it says on the web site, the poems in the book “are called ‘spells’ rather than poems as they are designed to be spoken (or sung!) out loud in order to summon back these words and creatures into our hearts.” The book has inspired a number of musical and multi-media projects, but Spell Songs is the result of a collaborative project commissioned by Folk By The Oak. The CD is available in a hardback book format (a limited-edition double vinyl album box set is also available and includes the CD book).

Sadly, the review CD is a promo copy without the book, but it looks from the web site as if the book would be worth the money for the illustrations alone. But while I haven’t seen the ‘spells’ in isolation, the music certainly sets them off beautifully. Here’s the track list.

  1. ‘Heartwood’
  2. ‘Selkie-Boy’
  3. ‘Kingfisher’
  4. ‘Heron’
  5. ‘Little Astronaut’
  6. ‘Acorn’
  7. ‘Ghost Owl’
  8. ‘The Snow Hare’
  9. ‘Conker (Magic Casket)’
  10. ‘Papa Kéba’
  11. ‘Charm on, Goldfinch’
  12. ‘Willow’
  13. ‘Scatterseed’
  14. ‘The Lost Words Blessing’

The eight musicians all contribute vocals, but also contribute individual instruments as follows:

  • Karine Polwart: tenor guitar, Indian harmonium
  • Julie Fowlis: shruti box and whistles
  • Seckou Keita: kora
  • Kris Drever: acoustic, electric & bass guitars
  • Kerry Andrew: melodica
  • Rachel Newton: electroharp, fiddle, viola
  • Beth Porter: whistling, cello, ukulele
  • Jim Molyneux: piano, Rhodes, synth, accordion, drums, percussion

With this range of singers and instrumentalists, there is much more variation in the material presented here than you might have expected, given their common source, though that unifying theme gives each piece an emotional impact that goes far beyond the introspection of run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter fare. The arrangements, singing and playing are all excellent. And I think I know what one of my wife’s birthday presents is going to be this year. That way I get to read the book as well as hearing some very beautiful music.

David Harley

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Artist’s website: https://www.thelostwords.org/

[Book ISBN13: 9780241253588]

‘The Lost Words Blessing’ – official video:

Video Wall 10

Well, the thunder is rumbling, the rain is beating down and festivals anywhere near the sea are packing up early – a typical British summer. Maybe it’s best to stay at home and watch a few new videos. We’ll start with one from our good friends Merry Hell:

‘The Fire’ is a recent track by Jamie Freeman, written about the Grenfell disaster. Jamie has a new album, Dreams About Falling and is currently on tour.

The name of Roo Panes crops up on our pages quite frequently. ‘Warrior’ was written to support anti-slavery organisation, International Justice Mission.

Karine Polwart covers Big Country with her version of ‘Chance’ taken from her latest album, Scottish Songbook.

‘Flying Visit’ is the latest single by Ferris & Sylvester who have just announced a new headline tour.

Equal measures chaotic and comical is how the new single ‘No Fun’ by Declan Welsh And The Decadent West has been described. It’s released in advance of their debut album, Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold coming in October.

‘Uneven Days’ is the atmospheric new single by Ben Harper.

Finally, Elephant Sessions have just released the video of ‘Tyragarah’, the single released in support of World Elephant Day.

MALINKY – Handsel (Greentrax CDTRAX402)

HandselHere’s the second Scottish band celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. While some might go for a big statement Malinky, who concentrate on song more than instrumentals, are rather more subtle. They boast two of the finest interpreters of Scottish song in Steve Byrne and Fiona Hunter with Mark Dunlop bringing songs from Ireland and the guitar and fiddle of Mike Vass completing the line-up. Handsel is a double CD: one of new material and a bonus disc of archive recordings. The band has recruited Euan Burton to join them on double bass and some celebrated singers to bring songs to the party. With nine lead vocalists there is plenty of variety.

Although the songs are distinctively Scots or Irish, some of the stories they tell are familiar. Most are old, either labelled as traditional or holding on their authorship from the 19th century. There is one new tune by Mark Dunlop and one new song by Steve Byrne, who has done the most work in amalgamating texts to improve the narratives. The opener, ‘Begone Bonnie Laddie’ borrows a line or two from ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’ and ‘The Forester’ is well known to Steeleye Span fans.  Dunlop played a major part in rebuilding ‘The Maid Of Doneysheil’ and its Irish origins can be discerned from the first notes.

The bothy ballad, ‘Sleepytoon’ with Ellie Beaton is as broad Scots as you might wish to hear and then come variants on stories concerning a grey cock and a ploughman laddie. There is old poetry from Allan Ramsey and Robert Burns and a more modern bothy ballad in the shape of ‘The Hash O Bennagoak’. Steve’s new song, ‘The Lads O The Lindsay’ concerns a lifeboat disaster off Arbroath in 1953. Steve is a native of Arbroath and his late grandmother remembered the event. Although it’s an emotional story the song is remarkably unsentimental in the manner of many old ballads.

The bonus disc is a splendid collection of favourite album tracks, live cuts and demos. Several are previously unreleased as far as I can tell – ‘Alison Cross’, a mighty and slightly atypical ‘The Trawlin Trade’ and ‘Clerk Saunders’ stand out as does the final track. This is a live performance of ‘The Bonnie Lass O Fyvie/The Silver Spear’ recorded for Malinky’s tenth anniversary concert featuring ten members of the band past and present including, of course, Karine Polwart.

Handsel – the name refers to a traditional New Year gift – is a really splendid album. Both the old and the new music resonate with the feeling of timelessness that makes folk music special. Please buy and enjoy.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Artists’ website: www.malinky.com

One of the bonus tracks, ‘King Orfeo’:

SINGLES BAR 41 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 41It slipped out late last year with virtually no publicity, so perhaps it’s time to shine a light on Voices Of Equilibrium (Silvertone), a four-track EP of covers from three part harmony Devon trio WILDWOOD KIN, sisters Beth and Emillie Key and cousin Meghann Loney. There’s some surprising choices, though Tracy Chapman’s ‘Talkin’ Bout A Revolution’ is the least so since it at least occupies the folk genre field. That said, the arrangement with its glistening keys and subsequent heavy drums immediately rings the changes on the original.

That’s certainly true of their take on ‘The Pretender’, not the Jackson Browne one but the Foo Fighters track, which they’ve slowed down into a moody dank folk affair while still bring urgency, albeit of a different shade to the refrain. Meanwhile, shifting the goalposts once again, ‘Dream On’ was a 2006 electro pop dance floor hit for Christian Falk and Robyn, though, even with its undulating electronic beat, even they might be hard-pressed to recognise this dreamy chamber folk reimagining with its cascading harmonies and twinkling sonic snowflakes.

Stevie Wonder provides the final cut, his boogie funk ‘Higher Ground’ transformed with a single vocal and hummed backing, handclaps and a muted drum thump gospel-like intro before the instrumentation fills out for a fixed and narrow-eyed tribal rhythm groove mid-section with what sounds like distorted scuzzy bass. A superb reminder that if you’re going to do a cover, especially crossing genres, then you need to make it your own. The trio have full possession.
https://www.wildwoodkin.com/

PoetsANNE LEITH & LES OMAN hail from Campbeltown and their EP, Poets, celebrates the work of two local writers, George Campbell Hay and Angus Martin. Anne and Les play guitars, bouzouki and keyboards but don’t overdo the accompaniments – the words are most important here. They stick to Hay’s English poetry but Martin’s ‘The Hird’s Hoose’ is in lowland Scots as far as we can judge. Anyone who thinks that they can write a “traditional” Scottish song (except Archie Fisher, who can do it) should listen to these songs – the opener, ‘The Fisherman Speaks’ is a gem.
www.anneandles.scot

Singles Bar 41A second taster for the upcoming self-released debut album, singer Lara Snowdon and violinist Kathryn Tremlett joined by Kev Jackson on electric guitar, Josiah Manning on keys and the rhythm section of Paddy Blight and Garry Kroll, VELVET & STONE follow-up ‘Oh Boy’ with, after a simply strummed intro, the equally fulsome sounding folk-rock ‘By The Water’, quite literally a love is blind story about confessing your feelings.
https://www.velvetstonemusic.com/

Singles Bar 41Is “Lena Kalinka, have you got space in your heart for a narcissist thinker” any way to begin a song? Absolutely. ‘Lena Kalinka’ is the first track on Poetical Resistance, the new EP by GABRIEL MORENO & THE QUIVERING POETS. Gabriel and the band combine English and Spanish musical strands and the influences of such songwriters as Leonard Cohen. He would be a perfect musical partner for Keith James. ‘Overstay Your Welcome’ is a string-drenched track with a very Cohenish structure overlaid with a Mediterranean gypsy violin and the closing ‘We Are What We Are’ is built on acoustic guitar. The chorus of ‘Silly Old Dreams’ strikes something of a false note but that is the record’s only fault.
www.gabrielmoreno.co.uk

Singles Bar 41There are eight of THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS from Somerset although one or two of them would appear to be Jamestown Sisters and Singing For Our Supper is their debut EP. Their mixture of good-time country, folk and blues is reminiscent of the early days of The Men They Couldn’t Hang with fiddle and brass fleshing out the sound. A song like ‘Take Your Medicine’ over keyboards and horns is harder and almost mainstream while ‘Everybody Take A Drink’ has an Irish flavour. The Jamestown Brothers must be a great festival band.
http://www.thejamestownbrothers.co.uk/

AtomsBreathily-voiced Guildford-based country pop singer-songwriter EMMA STEVENS self-releases her Atoms EP, featuring two collaborations with Kevin Jeremiah from The Feeling, the jaunty strumalong ‘Because It’s You’ and the uplifting ‘Soldier On’. The title track, presumably written in response to her mother’s passing, is a gentle fingerpicked acoustic celebration of being a part of everything and how death is just another beginning, the remaining cuts being the upbeat romantic euphoria of ‘Bells And Whistles’ and the more staccato rhythms of the self-explanatory feelings of ‘Home’.
https://emmastevensmusic.com/

True StraysTRUE STRAYS are a blues-rock trio from Bristol although they have lots of friends helping out. Once you get past the silly introduction track, Homeward Bound is pretty good and as you listen you begin to realise that they are rather cleverer than the down-and-dirty image they like to promote. Their sound is built around a big bass played by Joe James and buzz-saw guitar by lead vocalist James Cameron, all laid over solid drums by Matt Cooke. We reckon that they must be great live.
www.truestrays.com

Ghost TrainStourbridge-based acoustic bluesman SUNJAY returns to form after the well-played but soulless Black & Blues and the pointless covers set Sunjay Sings Buddy with ‘Ghost Train’ (self-released), a taster for the upcoming Devil Came Calling. Co-written with producer Eddy Morton, it’s a chugging piano and violin-coloured blues tribute to yesteryear heroes that namechecks a cast list that namechecks, among others, Holly, President Kennedy, Muddy Waters, Judy Garland, Babe Ruth, the Big Bopper Martin Luther King, and Monroe. By contrast, the flip side, ‘Too Close To The Sun’, another driving blues co-penned with Henry Priestman and Les Glover, deals with an increasingly unstable addictive relationship.
https://www.sunjay.tv/

Since YesterdayKARINE POLWART releases another single from her forthcoming album, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook. ‘Since Yesterday’ is the 1984 synth-pop Strawberry Switchblade song but it begins with a crackly old recording of her grandfather singing ‘The Rose Of Tralee’. Originally about youthful angst,  Karine’s piano-led reinterpretation of the song gives it to us old-timers. We’re looking forward to the album already.
https://www.karinepolwart.com/

Blue Hounds‘Blue Hounds’ is the new single from REN. Superficially, it’s a gentle acoustic guitar driven song with some nice single string picking but there’s an underlying message about living in politically difficult times. No need to explain who the blue hounds are but Ren does have red roses growing in his garden.
https://www.renofficialmusic.com/

Pete GardinerPETE GARDINER tackles the world’s problems with his new single, ‘Dangerous People’. Originally from Northern Ireland, he adopts a laconic drawl over acoustic guitar for the verses and allows the song to build up over the choruses. His words are clever, inviting comparisons with Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and his delivery seems instantly familiar without being a copy of anyone. We could use an album like this.
https://www.petegardiner.co.uk/

Siren's CallSinger and harpist KRISTIN REBECCA releases a single, ‘Siren’s Call’ which may be from a new album. Despite her being based in Maryland, you might take her for British at first – her voice is strong and clear and although her fellow New Englanders may be able to identify her accent it’s beyond us.
https://www.kristinrebecca.com/

SIMON AND THE ASTRONAUTS – Simon And The Astronauts (own label AIRLOCK01)

Simon And The AstronautsSimon And The Astronauts is something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing or, more accurately, disguised as a cat video. The titular Simon is poet Simon Wells who co-wrote the songs and alongside him are Boo Hewerdine and Chris Pepper who drums and was responsible for most of the recording. Tucked away are Boo’s son Ben, Darden Smith, Findlay Napier and Karine Polwart – mostly on just one or two numbers.

The opening track, ‘Astronauts’, is reminiscent of early Pink Floyd which may not be not be a coincidence as the second song is ‘Grantchester Meadows’ but not the Roger Waters song although that would have fitted in perfectly. The first two cuts are quite pastoral and then the mood changes. ‘Zinc’ is our first chance to hear Simon, speaking his lyrics, and I couldn’t help thinking of Marc Bolan at this point. Yes, I am that old. The track is decorated by Svetlana Alexievich’s theremin following Boo’s piano.

‘Bridge’ and ‘Airmail’ are both love songs, each in their way, and by now the album is getting entertainingly quirky. Karine Polwart, assisted by Findlay Napier, adopts her broadest Scots accent for ‘Love Is’ which she co-wrote with Simon. Although it sounds jokey, it’s actually quite serious and a very clever song. ‘I’m Just A Cat’ features Simon on saxophone and may go some way to explaining the cover design Or not. By this time Simon And The Astronauts is getting under your skin.

‘Oscar (Looking At The Stars)’ is Darden Smith’s solo and he backs Simon on ‘Tightly Wrapped Jackets’. Ben Hewerdine takes ‘Trampoline’ as a solo and his dad does the same with ‘Box Of Tears’ and then we get Simon’s final appearance on ‘Patti’, in part a paean to Patti Smith, more prose than poetry, spoken over Boo’s throbbing guitar.

As the styles and instrumentation mix you begin to suspect that the participants had a heap of fun making this album. The lyric booklet is one big joke but Simon’s words are deadly earnest. You really should hear this record.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


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. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

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

‘I’m Just A Cat’: