The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011: A ReactionPosted: 8 February 2011
This year’s Folk Awards were on last night and I, like a total idiot, missed them – what can I say, thank God for iplayer! Though I guess Julie Fowlis’s tweet from Sunday should’ve given me a clue (oops).
I’m a relatively new lover of folk music; the draw for me is the depth of musical skill that every artist on the scene seems to possess (approximately 50x the average Brit award winner?). I have a tendency too to find and stick to the artists I like the sound of (Bob Fox, anyone?) and so the Folk Awards are a great way to find new artists to listen to.
But first of all – first of all – I just want to say YESSS!!!!! Nancy Kerr and James Fagan took the award for best duo! I’m more than a little biased, admittedly, since Nancy is a fellow north-easterner and the cover for their latest album Twice Reflected Sun was designed by my awesomely talented friend Lizzy.
I’m really pleased. The last time they won best duo was 2003 and I believe they deserved to win on the strength of the album alone. It’s a shame though that they lost out on best original song with Queen of Waters, which so happens to be my favourite from the album and more than deserving.
I’ll admit I haven’t listened to Chris Wood before (and beginning to think I should have). He took home the award for best original song with Hollow Point, a mellow ballad about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian mistakenly identified as a terrorist in the tube attacks in July 2005. He gave a mesmerising performance of the song during the night which was a great choice despite my bias!
Chris Wood also won the coveted award for folk singer of the year. They were pretty spoilt for choice on this one but personally, I would’ve rather seen the award go to Heidi Talbot or Kris Drever, two artists I’ve been listening to a good deal in the past few months. I’m not a fan of overtly Irish music, it must be said, and I love Heidi for being so refreshingly different; you just have to listen to her recordings like Hang Me or my personal favourite Cathedrals from the In Love and Light album to see what I mean. Seeing as she did receive two nominations, the other for best traditional song with Willie Taylor, I would’ve liked to see her win an award.
Kris Drever on the other hand, has one of the most attractive male voices I’ve ever heard, hands down. Forget Travis, he’s one of the best artists to come out of Scotland in recent years. Harvest Gypsies from his 2006 debut album Black Water in particular is getting a lot of airtime on my mp3 player and he is one artist I would dearly love to see perform live.
Bellowhead… I’m still undecided over. A few months ago I was enthusing over the band, which won this year’s best band and best live band awards. They are certainly different; being 11-strong and mixing together influences from a plethora of musical genres, you can give them that. However, their lead singer Jon Boden takes centre stage and for all the talent of the instrumentalists, it is impossible to talk about the band without him.
That said, Mr. Boden has a good voice and an arresting stage presence. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Bellowhead won the award for best live band; they seem like they would be great live. All those instruments and styles mixed together would certainly make an impact in an enclosed setting and provide a completely different experience to others going. But as it stands I’m not convinced and will reserve my decision on whether I like them or not until I have seen them live.
This opinion may or may not have been influenced by the fact that my favourite and local band the Unthanks were also nominated and lost out.
A pleasant surprise among the nominations was for the Young Folk Award. The nominees, aged 15-20, are chosen through a series of workshops a few months prior to the main award ceremony. I was surprised to see David Gibb & Elly Lucas there, a duo from Derbyshire whom I swear I have seen on stage before, supporting Bob Fox last summer. I can’t remember clearly; but if this was the same duo, I remember them being particularly good and it is great to see them nominated.
The other nominations and winners went like this;
FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR
Chris While & Julie Matthews
Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
Nancy Kerr & James Fagan
Coope Boyes & Simpson
As If – Coope Boyes & Simpson
Gift – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
Handmade Life – Chris Wood
Hedonism – Bellowhead
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Hollow Point – Chris Wood
Queen of Waters – Nancy Kerr (performed by Nancy Kerr & James Fagan)
Rambling Man – Laura Marling
Stick Stock – Emily Portman
BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK
New York Girls – Bellowhead
The Demon Lover – Andy Irvine
Poor Wayfaring Stranger – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
Willie Taylor – Heidi Talbot
Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
BEST LIVE ACT
The Demon Barbers
YOUNG FOLK AWARD
David Gibb & Elly Lucas
Mairi & Steaphanaidh Chaimbeul
GOOD TRADITION AWARD
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Photo credit: Andy