The 2017 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2017 Folking Awards. Last year’s inaugural poll was such a success that we had to do it again. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were wrangled into shape with sweat, tears and not a little blood by the Folkmeister and the Editor.

There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have been featured in the pages of in 2016.

As with the format last year, all are winners in our eyes. However, its not just down to what we think, so again, there will be a public vote to decide the overall winner of each category.

Soloist Of The Year

Luke Jackson
Ralph McTell
Kelly Oliver
Steve Pledger
Alasdair Roberts

Best Duo

Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby
Ange Hardy & Lukas Drinkwater
O’Hooley & Tidow
Show Of Hands

Best Band

Afro Celt Sound System
Fairport Convention
Harp And A Monkey
Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitor Band
Merry Hell

Best Live Act

The James Brothers
Robb Johnson and the My Best Regards Band
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Mad Dog Mcrea

Best Album

Tall Tales & Rumours – Luke Jackson
Ballads Of The Broken Few – Seth Lakeman/Wildwood Kin
Preternatural – Moulettes
Somewhere Between – Steve Pledger
Dodgy Bastards – Steeleye Span

Best Musician

Ciaran Algar
Phil Beer
Rachel Newton
Gill Sandell
Kathryn Tickell

Rising Star Act

The Brewer’s Daughter
Hattie Briggs
Said The Maiden
Emily Mae Winters

Best International Act

Applewood Road
The Bills
David Francey
Michael McDermott
Eve Selis

Public Vote

The public vote closed Midday Saturday 22 April 2017 and the winners have now been announced HERE

If you would like to consider ordering a copy of an album for any of our award winners (in CD or Vinyl), download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected songs (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above.

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THE BILLS – Trail of Tales (Borealis BCD239)

Trail Of TalesThey’ve been knocking round for twenty years, releasing their debut album at the start of the century, Trail Of Tales marking the Canadian quintet’s fifth excursion into folk and bluegrass territory.

Lining up as Marc Atkinson on mandolin and guitar, Adrian Dolan on fiddle, accordion and piano, guitarist Chris Frye, Scott White on upright bass and Richard Moody handling violin, mandolin and viola, with all of them contributing vocals and material, it’s a lively and upbeat set, kicking off with the strummed chug of ‘Wonders I’ve Seen’’s call to ensure the planet survives for other generations to enjoy its beauty. A similar theme of keeping the line going also informs the fiddle-led title track before Moody whistles his way into the jaunty rolling New Orleans tinted ‘Happy Be’, which, basically, is all about easing back and soaking up the world as it goes by. They get a tad funky with ‘Jungle Doctor’, another song about appreciating the womders around you, leading in turn to the bass, mandolin and twin violin driven chamber styled instrumental lament, ‘Wonder’. It’s the first of four instrumentals, second up being the buoyant ‘Pebble Beach’, while, sandwiched in-between, the positivity continues with the call to dance that is thigh-slapping swing ‘Hittin’ The Do’.

The falsetto sung ‘She Went Up’, one of the few songs to cast a cloud over the general sunny disposition, is also one of the less successful tracks, even if it does showcase the chamber music element of their string work. ‘Forgotten Beech Groove’ picks things back up with its roots-rock fiddle backed, mid-tempo march beat, though I’d have liked it to have rounded things off with an a capella chorus. The third instrumental, a Celtic-tinged air, ‘West Bay Crossing’ complements the violin and mandolin with Dolan’s accordion, before, introduced with Moody’s mandolin, Beatles influences make themselves felt on the self-explanatory conservationist-themed ‘Lullaby For Elephants’.

The album heads into its final stretch with the a capalla intro to the rousing bluesy rock shaded stomp of ‘What Trouble Is’, the album’s most overtly political number in addressing the refugee crisis before returning the pervasive environmental theme with the unaccompanied, four part harmony ‘When The Last Leaf Falls’. Again showcasing mandolin and strings, the last of the instrumentals brings down the curtain with Moody’s ‘Mando Coloured Glasses’, a reflective number that draws influences from both Eastern Europe and Andalucia.

After all these years, you get the sense they could play this in their sleep, their appeal and strength is they never sound as if they are.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website:

‘Trail Of Tales’ – official video:

The Bills announce new album

The Bills 2

It’s been twenty years since Canadian quintet The Bills first formed, and the collective spirit of this wide-ranging, globally-inspired roots ensemble remains as vibrant as ever. Originating from a kitchen-jam exploration of traditional and modern styles, they’ve forged a sophisticated, down home blend of global rhythms that has been celebrated in dancehalls and festivals across the western world. If it’s not abundantly clear from the smiles of their devoted fans, take a look at the five beaming faces on stage when the full band joins force, and you can see how much love The Bills have for making music together.

With their new album, Trail Of Tales, via Borealis Records, The Bills are poised to release their most compelling set of music yet. To make the album, the band gathered together in the picturesque wooded splendour of tiny Mayne Island, an artists’ enclave just off the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. With the wind in the trees, a view of the Salish Sea, a wood fire for heat, and an old farm house wired up with vintage microphones, they set out to create a truly collaborative record.

“There’s never been a Bills album with five songwriters, that’s a first in the history of the band” says singer/guitarist Chris Frye. “Hopefully it’s bringing out the best we have to offer because we’re truly together as a unit.”

Part of what makes the new album so cohesive comes from how well each of these musicians know each other.

“The Bills have an almost chamber music vibe at times, especially instrumentally” says fiddler Richard Moody. “It’s caused me to really listen to the people I’m playing with.”

You can hear this on the tracks — how they can turn on a dime as an ensemble, effortlessly weaving complex and beautiful melodies behind captivating vocal lines. Despite the closeness, it was still a healthy challenge for band member fiddler/accordionist Adrian Dolan to produce the album. A fixture in Ruth Moody’s touring band, and engineer for The Wailin’ Jennys, Dolan drew from years of experience recording contemporary roots music and an intimate knowledge of every band member’s strengths to shape the final product.

The new album highlights the band’s commitment to compelling lyrics and themes; often drawing inspiration from their regional geography and culture. A diversity of influences can be heard with each song — from Frye and mandolinist Marc Atkinson’s anthemic title track to the forward-motion funk of Moody’s ‘Jungle Doctor’. Bassist Scott White’s carefree vocal pop song ‘Happy Be’ shows listeners a gentler side, while ‘Hittin’ the Do’ uncorks a Western Swing dance party. Throughout Trail Of Tales, the songs are tied together with remarkably detailed arrangements. It’s a testament to The Bills’ musicianship that the music always sounds so uplifting and effortless.

The Bills continue to hold court as one of Canada’s premiere roots acts. Two Juno award nominations (Canada’s Grammy) and countless tours haven’t changed The Bills’ basic formula: combine stunning vocal harmonies, poignant lyrics, sophisticated and captivating instrumental arrangements, and a healthy dose of good times, British Columbia style, and you have a band that proves there’s a surprising amount of power to be found in acoustic roots music today.

Artists’ website:

Video preview: