Last night was the annual extravaganza that is the BBC Radio 2 folk awards. This year it has moved from its normal home in London to Salford in Manchester.
Although this was not being shown live on terrestrial television there was still the expectation of being able to watch this either via the website or the red button on your digital television. Well it seems that the gremlins had hit the BBC at the wrong moment and there was no streaming from their site or on my Virgin Media cable box, though for some reason it was available via Freeview.
The first thing that struck me while watching this was how sparse the front few rows were of the Lowry Theatre, whether these seats were held for VIPs or by paying punters who didn’t want to brave the cold night air, I guess we’ll never know.
The evening was hosted by Mike Harding and Julie Fowlis and got off to the great musical start in the company of The Martin Simpson Band. This point on should make my first confession, I’m not really a fan of sitting through awards ceremonies, and often find sitting through long speeches a little bit tiresome, so thank heavens for super smart animals on BBC 1.
Back to Martin Simpson I should say he will be playing in various guises at Cambridge Junction 25th April, Raunds Festival in Nothampton 6th May, Hitchin Folk Club 9th September, Cambridge, St Pauls Church 15th September, Great Knight Folk Club Northampton 18th September.
So to the awards themselves and I will try also try and mention if you will get a chance to see them live in the area, though always check the artists web sites for details.
The first award of the evening was for
Best Duo: won by Tim Edey and Brendan Power
Horizon Award: presented by Badly Drawn Boy, Damon Gough to Lucy Ward
And ample opportunity to see Lucy as she’s playing support for Fishermans Friends at Cambridge Corn Exchange 21st February and then again at The Alban Arena on 22nd. She’s also off to Nettlebed Folk Club in Oxfordshire on 27th and Rugby Roots 3rd March in her own right, then playing support for Phil Beer 4th March at Hitchin Folk Club and if that’s not enough she’s just been announced to play at Cambridge Folk Festival in July – check her web site for all other event, she’s got a busy year.
After a performance from Seth Lakeman
The aforementioned Tim Edey was given Musician of the Year
The Roots Award: was presented to Malcolm Taylor who is Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
I missed their tour last year, down to lack of funds, but by all accounts it was something special and I’ve always been fascinated by June Tabor’s presentation of music and her somewhat dark approach to telling the stories behind them.
Lifetime Achievement Award – was presented by Paul Gambaccini to Don McLean, which if nothing else got the biggest response on Twitter for the fact that the first song he played, his guitar was out of tune, possibly a lot of muso’s Tweeting because it’s never happened to them of course.
At this point there was a break and on TV we got to watch the empty seats empty some more as the audience rushed to the bar, so we listened to the Mark Radcliffe radio broadcast talking to the your musician, nominees, though why they couldn’t televise this I do not know, note for next year, get a hand held camera at least.
With a set by the eventual winners of Young Folk Award: by Ioscaid then a great song Blight and Blossom sung by Blair Dunlop who is playing as part of The Albion Band at Hapenden Public Halls on 10th March and Stevenage Gordon Craig Theatre on 13th March. Then Sunjay Brayne performed a poignant modern day song called Street Riot.
Rejoining the TV broadcast 20 minutes later were The Unthanks and the Brighouse and Rastrick Band and you’ll find their video somewhere on You Tube, though at this point I did turn over to see a really intelligent chimpanzee who could memorise a sequence on numbers flashed on a screen for one tenth of a second. Forgive me but I really don’t see what the fuss is about The Unthanks now. I will admit I liked them on first seeing them with the original line up but it’s all passing me by now, and the cries from people calling for them to be booked for festival are not echoed by me.
A clearly emotional Mike Harding then introduced Christy Moore to present the Good Traditon Award to Bill Leader in recognition to his work over 60 years producing some of the biggest folk albums, including Hardings 1972 album, A Lancashire Lad, the reason for his emotion.
Though between these awards Christy Moore returned to the stage for a very touching song On Morecombe Bay
Good Tradition Award: Ian Campbell
And for the first time ever Best Original Song was shared between The Herring Girl – Bella Hardy / The Reckoning – Steve Tilston and you’ll get chance to see Bella 12th June at The Stables and Steve at Redbourne Folk Club on 19th April and Oxford Folk Club 20th April and I might be able to get my book signed too.
Another visit to the stage for June Tabor, but this time for her solo work and the award of Folksinger of the year
Before the evening ended with the second Lifetime Achievment Award: for The Dubliners
Once again, there was no recognition of the grass roots of Folk and the hundreds of folk clubs, organisations and venues that help to promote all kinds of music from the young, up and coming and even established artist. Many of these are run on a not for profit and voluntary basis, which ultimately can lose money on occasions but at least help by giving people a platform to express the music they love, these clubs are all award winners,so don’t necessarily need something for their mantel piece, but some recognition I’m sure would be appreciated. I doubt this genre of music never be catered for on the likes of those, so called TV talent shows.
So that was it for another year, though every year I always read the controversy over, the voting procedures, the selection procedures, how the same people always win, how the little known folk artists don’t get a look in, how it’s all so unfair. So at the end of the day be thankful that there is at least some exposure to folk music, even a little amount, though it could have been more if this Interweb and Red Button thing worked.