The 2018 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2018 Folking Awards and thank you again to everyone who participated last year. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were wrangled into shape with considered argument and arm-wrestling by the Folkmeister and the Editor.

There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have impressed our writers during 2017.

As with the format 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 down to what we think, so again, there will be a public vote to decide the overall winner of each category.

*The Public Vote for each category will close at 9.00pm on Sunday 1st April (GMT+1).

Soloist Of The Year

 Jon Boden
Ange Hardy
Daria Kulesh
Richard Thompson
Chris Wood

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Best Duo

Kate & Raphael
O’Hooley & Tidow
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
Laura Smyth & Ted Kemp
Winter Wilson

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Best Band

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Merry Hell
Peter Knight’s Gigspanner
Police Dog Hogan
The Unthanks

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Best Live Act

CC Smugglers
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
Fairport Convention
Merry Hell

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Best Album

Bring Back Home – Ange Hardy
Pretty Peggy – Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Long Lost Home – Daria Kulesh
A Pocket Of Wind Resistance – Karine Polwart/Pippa Murphy
Strangers – The Young ‘Uns

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Best Musician

Kevin Crawford
Seth Lakeman
Richard Thompson
Karen Tweed
Ryan Young

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Rising Star

Sam Brothers
Siobhan Miller
Jack Rutter
Sound Of The Sirens
The Trials Of Cato

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!!


Best International Artist

Rodney Crowell
Anna Coogan
Michael McDermott
Le Vent Du Nord
The Wailin’ Jennys

Public Vote

*And the winner is: Open envelope!


Folkies 2018

POLICE DOG HOGAN – Wild By The Side Of The Road

Wild By The Side Of The RoadFormed in 2009 and currently an eight-piece, Wild By The Side Of The Road is Police Dog Hogan’s fourth album and firmly consolidates their growing reputation for infectiously punchy folk rock shaded with elements of country and bluegrass.

Fronted by lyricist James Studholme and with banjo and mandolin provided by Tim Dowling and Tim Jepson, they have established themselves as festival regulars, guaranteed to get the crowd jumping with their rollicking, bouncy melodies. And they’re much in evidence here, kicking off with ‘Tyburn Jig’, clattering rim percussion driving a bouncy song about being hung and swiftly followed by the jaunty countrified and brassed up ‘Dixie’, about a doomed romance with a country fan in Birmingham, the saloon piano and fiddle driven clopalong ‘In The Country, a paean to the rural Devonshire life, and the rousing bluesy stomp ‘Black Road’ with its lively accordion, trumpet-heavy and what sounds a like touch of Jew’s harp.

Of course, this is only one side of the band, they’re equally adept at quieter, more thoughtful and reflective balladry. ‘Devon Brigade’ is a case in point, a first person narrative about a young lad fighting in the Great War as part of the Devonshire Regiment, its melancholic underscored by the cooking horal backing and strings. The same holds true for ‘Tomorrow’s Boys’, a more uptempo foot-tapping strum about how yesterday’s dreams never materialised, the trumpet-haunted disillusionment of ‘All You Know About Love’ and, swathed in violins and cello, the moodily atmospheric traditional flavours of the lyrically dark ‘Our Lady Of The Snows’.

Their bluegrass inclinations can be heard on the wryly retrospective, banjo-led ‘The One On The Left’ (its percussion intro reminding me of the start to ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town’) while, with its lap steel, Hammond, trumpet and circling percussive rhythm ‘Let My Spirit Rise’, is bathes in the waters of Southern soul gospel.

The album closes with two numbers that deftly lay out their main two approaches, the romping bluegrass musician’s perspective hoedown ‘East Nashville Back Porch Fix’ and, built around a circling drum pattern and fiddle, the five-minute ‘Fare You Well’, Studholme’s Celtic-tinted anthemic adieu to Cornwall, complete with a namecheck for the Pier House Hotel overlooking Charlestown harbor, and its brief instrumental coda.

They’re out on the road from February 22 until the end of April, I suggest you scour the hedgerows to find a gig blooming near you.

Mike Davies

Band website:

While we wait for a video from the new album, here’s an old favourite, ‘Thunderheads’:

Police Dog Hogan – new album

Police Dog Hogan
Photograph by Bob Russell

Police Dog Hogan release their new album Wild By The Side Of The Road on Major Tom Records on Friday 17th February. The official launch gig will take place at Nell’s Jazz and Blues Club in West London on 22 February and will be followed by an extensive tour throughout February, March and April to promote the album.

Driving country-rock rhythms and a distinctive Americana vibe underpin lead singer James Studholme’s lyrics, in this collection of stories and personal observations. The collective musical skills of the band have been used to full effect to create an album that delivers on both interpretation and atmosphere.

Police Dog Hogan, first formed in 2009, has evolved over the years into a tight-knit eight-piece band combining guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, accordion, trumpet, keyboards, bass and drums to create an exuberant fusing of country, pop, folk and rocking bluegrass.

In 2014 Police Dog Hogan were one of only three UK bands invited to Nashville to perform at the prestigious Americana Music Association Awards, where DJ Bob Harris – in town for the awards – snapped them up for a recording that has become one of the most-watched YouTube videos on his Under The Apple Tree Sessions channel. In 2015 they made a showcase appearance on Harris’s Radio 2 show.

The band has repeatedly been offered headline and other spots on the main stages of numerous key festivals – among many others, they have been asked back an unprecedented three times to Larmer Tree, twice to Kendal Calling and Port Eliot, and three times to Cornbury. In 2016 they appeared at Glastonbury for the first time, on the Avalon stage.

The band regularly plays to sell-out audiences up and down the country. After more than 300 live shows they’ve become a serious and ambitious musical venture that marries a devotion to touring and the presentation of consummate live performances with an utter dedication to song writing and recording.

Artists’ website:

‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’ – live with Neil Innes:

POLICE DOG HOGAN – Westward Ho! (Union Music Store UMS007)

PDH3Westward Ho! is the third album by Police Dog Hogan – or “the band that I’m in” if you’re a regular reader of Tim Dowling’s Guardian Weekend column. Dowling downplays his band in the cause of humour, making it sound like it’s him and a couple of mates from the pub continually amazed that they’ve got a gig. In fact, Police Dog Hogan is an accomplished seven-piece band – or eight if you count trumpeter Emily Norris who is pretty much a fixture.

They play an English style of Americana with a solid foundation of bass, drums and guitar topped with banjo, fiddle, mandolin and accordion. The Englishness comes from literate lyrics and the subject matter. ‘A Man Needs A Shed’ wouldn’t mean much in the mid-west until you explain that British houses don’t have vast basements, the one bit of transatlantic culture that I actually envy. PDH have also created that great rarity, a song based on an English place name that works: ‘Crackington’ is a tiny coastal village in Cornwall. They pull off the same trick with ‘West Country Boy’ which cites both Ilfracombe and Fowey.

The album kicks off with ‘Thunderheads’, a rags to rags story sung by James Studholme in the style that Johnny Cash would have adopted had he come from Berkshire. It’s a classic piece of country-rock and it’s followed by ‘One Size Fits All’ and you’re in a roadhouse just outside Memphis listening to songs of heartache and drinking one too many beers.

‘Buffalo’ is in the style of a lost song from 19th century America and I was half convinced that it was authentic, which shows how good the writing is. “I made up songs out of snake-oil and pain” sings James in ‘From The Land Of Miracles’ and, you know, he really does. You might get the impression that I rather like this album and you’d be right. It’s one I could happily keep on repeat and they come by very rarely.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

The official ‘Thunderheads’ video:


Westward Ho!
Union Music Store – October 6th

Listen to their new track ‘Thunderheads’:

With 8 members in the full line-up and instruments including guitar, accordion, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and trumpet, Police Dog Hogan draw their influences from many different wells. You could call it Americana, country-folk, folk-pop or even urban bluegrass, but it’s difficult to do justice to the sheer range of styles this band can bend to its will.

Their exuberant  mix of country-fried heartbreakers, belting anthems, foot-stomping singalongs and souvenir tea towels made them a firm favourite on the festival circuit since forming in 2009.  “They’re one of my bands to watch,” says Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker. “Great songs, great musicians, and their live shows are really, really good fun.”

Police Dog Hogan’s second album, From the Land of Miracles, attracted praise from many quarters. “No one in their right mind would imagine that the band that play on the opening track ‘Better Go Now’ come from anywhere other than the heartland of America,” said Maverick magazine’s 5-star review. “But some of James Studholme’s intricate guitar playing comes straight out of the traditional English folk book and would make Richard Thompson proud.”

With an average age comfortably over 40 (23-year old trumpeter Emily Norris is something of an outlier), Police Dog Hogan offer more in the way of experience than innocence. While the members hold down a variety of what might be described as “day jobs” (their banjo player Tim Dowling is a writer and Guardian columnist; lead singer James Studholme runs an advertising production company), they take the music very seriously, and keep up a rigorous touring schedule, recently playing to sell-out crowds at Bush Hall, the Borderline and various venues across the UK, as well as festivals including Camp Bestival, Cornbury, Maverick and Kendal Calling.

This September the band are exporting their unique take on Americana to Nashville, playing two showcase gigs at the Americana Music Association awards. After that they return to the UK to play a string of dates in October, November and December.

Their third album Westward Ho! is due out on the influential Union Music Store label in the autumn. That title – part swashbuckling exhortation, part melancholy seaside postcard – goes some way toward encapsulating Police Dog Hogan’s sound: bold and infectious country-folk wedded to a wry, reflective and deeply English sensibility.

Westward Ho! is produced by the Oysterband’s Al Scott. “I loved Al’s production of the June Tabor & Oysterband’s Ragged Kingdom record, which I think is a classic,” says James Studholme. “He has a certain clarity and  attack, going right back to the Levellers. When I found out he was producing a new CD for our label mates Hatful of Rain, working with him suddenly sounded like a possibility. He was busy touring with Oysterband, but we were prepared to wait.”

Among its songs of hard won experience, Westward Ho! includes the track Home, a collaboration between Police Dog Hogan and the Music in Prisons charity. This version of Home came about as the result of a joint live gig with Platform 7 – a band made up of ex-prisoners under the wing of Music in Prisons – and was recorded with the aid of several members of the group.

“We’d seen Platform 7 perform,” says Tim Dowling, “and had long talked of doing a show together, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for the impact this song had on the audience. When it came to recording it, we knew that was the version we wanted.”