Welcome To The Folkies

With Oscar fever rising to a climax it’s time to say “Welcome To The Folkies” – the 2016 Folking Awards. We’ve sifted through the albums and performances of 2015 – always a long and difficult task punctuated by bouts of thumb-wrestling to settle disputes. Adopting the pattern followed by everyone else, here, in no order of precedence, are our nominations. With the exception of one category we have restricted our choices to British acts.

All nominations are 2016 Folking Awards winners.

Welcome To The Folkies

Soloist Of The Year

Steve Tilston
Sam Carter
Kathryn Roberts
Steve Knightley
Ange Hardy

Best Duo

Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin
India Electric Co.
Show Of Hands
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman

Best Band

Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
False Lights
Merry Hell

Best Live Act

The Demon Barbers XL
Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
CC Smugglers

Best Album

Layers Of Ages – Peter Knight’s Gigspanner
Head Heart Hand – Megan Henwood
The Girl I Left Behind Me – India Electric Co.
It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice – Elle Osborne
Disco At The Tavern – The Demon Barbers

Best Musician

Dan Walsh
Peter Knight
P.J. Wright
Chris Leslie
Kris Drever

Folking’s Rising Star

Will Varley
Sam Kelly
Wes Finch
India Electric Co.
Chris Cleverley

Best International Artist

Gretchen Peters
Tom Russell
Gandalf Murphy And The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams
Justin Townes Earle
Los Lobos

To give the awards a further edge, we opened the vote to our visitors and run a public poll in all of the 8 categories (as listed above).

The Public Vote closed Sunday 28 February at 20.00 hours and “The Folking Winners” have now been announced here at: http://folking.com/the-folking-winners/

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.

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

WES FINCH – Awena (Unity Roots Productions)

AwenaI’ve had a copy of this album for some months but was sworn to silence until its release was set. I did as I was asked although it was strain – at the first time of listening I thought it was stunning piece of work – but I put it to one side and didn’t play it again.

Returning to Awena I hear the same songs but subtly differently. The magic of hearing it unfold for the first time is a one-off; the second time it’s possible to delve deeper into the stories. And these songs are real stories, inspired by literature and fable. Gerry Diver’s production and input into the arrangements add a depth and gravity to the songs but even the simpler accompaniments like ‘Red Coat’ have a weight. I say simpler but ‘Red Coat’ breaks out from its slow twin squeeze-box backing into a sprightly tune before closing in orchestral splendour. It tells the story of a soldier in three movements – recruitment, home on leave, as a hero we presume, and finally returning to war for the last time.

‘Jackie’s Stone’ tells of two brothers, both navvies, who hit the town one Saturday night with tragic consequences. Richard Thompson could have written this song and been proud of it. ‘Widow Thomas’ is an odd song that’s actually about the poet and composer Ivor Gurney and I’m still figuring it out. The darkness continues with ‘Smiling Loner’ and ‘Man Of Bones’, Wes’ take on the ‘Death And The Lady Tradition’ with more sweeping strings. The closer, ‘Riverbed’, sees a deserted husband contemplating suicide, and for all that, it’s one the album’s top tracks with its sneaky quote of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’. It begins with unaccompanied voice and ends with out and out rock. It’s only fault is that it is too short.

Musically, there is hell of a lot going on with no two songs backed in the same way. ‘Corinne’, for example, begins with jangly strings before a solo fiddle, Diver I presume, comes in to swell the sound and make room for more. ‘Maurice’ opens with acoustic guitar and minimal piano before the strings underpin the sense of gloom. Later, Wes gives us a cover of ‘Love Me Tender’ which begins on one channel as if recorded on Neil Young’s Voice-O-Graph before expanding into a little old-fashioned schmaltz that becomes buried in strange sounds.

This is a very fine album, packed with excellent songs and brilliant musical ideas. I hope it sells millions.

Dai Jeffries

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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.

‘Jackie’s Stone’ live: