Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Yes, I am crazy! This is a second kind of non-scheduled blog post this week. Yes, I should be working on the final little bit of the concluding part of my overview/review of 2012. It cannot be helped. There is just too much to share. If I didn't write this one and get it out there my fragile mind would collapse under the pressure of so much great music waiting to be shared. I admit, I should have got this tagged on to the bottom of Monday's post but there was just no time. Arrrrg! Stop! Wait! Tonight is the night so I have to get a move on even now. I'm against the clock in all senses of the expression.

I am of course talking about the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Depending on what time I get to hit the publish button on this post, the awards ceremony is either in full swing (indeed it is) or possibly even already over (most likely for later readers). I regret I won't have time to go over it and share the winners before next week but you don't need me to do that. If you've not even watched the show or perhaps even heard about it (what secluded isle do you live on I'd like to know?) then at least now you will have. You should check out some more about it because it is a seminal night of recognition for British Folk music. There is always the added fact that when you watch or listen to such events you will come across a song or artist that bowls you over. Something new will enter you sphere of musicality. Not sure if that last sentence makes grammatical sense but it sounded good so get over it. Ha!


It isn't all just hard traditional type stuff either so don't be scared away by that. Not that such style should scare you. Unless it's about some mad axe-murdering ghost who tortures his victims to a painfully slow and grisly death using obscure musical instruments that....I think I best stop there before I get closed down. There is so much range to the music covered by all the categories and in turn, the nominees. From traditional to instrumental, progressive to contemporary and beyond. Something for everyone. One particular thing that draws me to most, if not all, forms of folk is how far back into our histories it stretches. Furthermore, how it is often about passing on ancient stories and lore to each generation. It is something inclusive and as a society of music fans, something we can take great pleasure from and indeed, learn from too. I'd not heard of the interesting Doctor James Katriona Gilmore sings about. An important character seemingly wiped from history. 

Check out the sample of 5 tracks above that all feature on this wonderful broad compilation album. It is just £9.48 for 3 CDs filled with songs from the nominees of this year's awards. 

  1. Bellowhead with Roll The Woodpile Down, a song that cannot but get you jigging about like a loon. A happy loon and music-induced so fear not, it is a natural thing. The power of that music. These guys are a juggernaut of talent and are up for Best Album (public vote) with their recently released Broadside. It doesn't stop there for them as they are also nominated for Best Group.
  2. Second is Dr James from the more youthful duo Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts. Personally I think their latest album, The Innocent Left should have been nominated in the Best Album category but then you have seen how difficult it is for me to narrow these things down. It is a cracking album though, full of originality but with a foot of each of them remaining within the traditional camp. Anyways, they are up for Best Duo.
  3. Third is King of Birds from talented singer-songwriter Karine Polwart who has no less than three nominations. Her 2012 album, Traces, is up for Best Album while King of Birds is up for Best Original Song and Karine is nominated for Folk Singer of the Year.
  4. Fourth is the very moving and personal The Ballad of Andy Jacobs from Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman. This duo (Kathryn being the sister of Jamie Roberts, if you didn't know) are up for Best Duo as well as this wonderful song being nominated to Best Original Song. Competition in these things is always tough, as it should be, but I sincerely hope Kathryn is recognized for this song. 
  5. Fifth and finally is Sea of Okhotsk from Treacherous Orchestra, which I must admit I absolutely love! It is such an interesting and innovative mix of sounds. There's electronica in there amongst so much else. It sounds superb! Treacherous Orchestra are up for Best Group and I wish them well.

As great as the above are and I think these samples showcase the kind of stuff on the album very well, they can barely hope to scratch the surface. With your appetite duly whetted and to prevent further salivations (and with them the risk of severe flood warnings - do be considerate about all the recent melting snow and rains we've been having), you should go buy the album and enjoy the lot at your leisure.

There are 3 CDs full of wonderment, I did mention that didn't I? 3 disks! Yes three! 3! Go get it for a bargain price of £9.48. Or if you're more in to your digital tunes these days you can buy it from iTunes instead >>here<<. For those who still like to do things the old fashioned way (can you believe I'm saying that about CDs? Anyone remember mini-disks? Ha!), check out the ProperMusic website via this link >>here<<, which will take you directly to the album page.

I wish all nominees my sincerest best wishes but it will come as no surprise I'm rooting for the very awesome Luke Jackson to win the Young Folk Award. Rura have bowled me over too, with their song Mary, which is on the album (disk 1) so go get it and enjoy some fantastic music spanning the entire folk genre. And Lau with The Bird That Winds The Spring - just so sublime. There's too much for me to list so just go buy it. You won't regret it. Full tracklisting below.

Okay, I am actually watching the awards stream live via the Radio 2 website as I write this so it is hard not to share what's coming as it comes. Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman scooped the first award for Best Duo. So well-deserved and Sean thanked all those fans who keep attending the gigs because that's what makes it for them! So, please keep at it and get yourself along to wonderful live music. There really is nothing quite like it. Next up is The Horizon Award.....which has gone to Blair Dunlop! A very worthy winner indeed! Well done Blair. If you like what you hear from Blair on the compilation CD make sure you go and buy his awesome debut album Blight & Blossom.

CD 1: Bellowhead - Roll The Woodpile Down / Hannah James & Sam Sweeney - The Farmer's Cursed Wife / Ana├»s Mitchell - Tailor / Duncan Chisholm - Unknown Air / Kathleen Macinnes - Tha Sneach'd Air Druim Uachdair / Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts - Doctor James / Nic Jones  - Texas Girl's Lament At The Funeral Of Her Father / Emily Portman - Hatchlings / Rura - Mary / Kathryn Tickell - Small Coals

CD 2: Lau - The Bird That Winds The Spring / Maz O'connor - Caw The Yowes / Ross Ainslie -- Lullaby For Mel / O'hooley & Tidow - Gentleman Jack / Luke Jackson - Last Train / Karine Polwart - King Of Birds / Blair Dunlop - Billy In The Lowground / Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman - The Ballad Of Andy Jacobs / The Unthanks - Black Trade / Sam Lee - Wild Wood Amber / Treacherous Orchestra - Sea Of Okhotsk

CD 3: Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar - Working On The New Railroad / Thalla - St. Andrew's Flight / Last Tango In Harris / Luke Jackson - More Than Boys / Graham Mackenzie & Ciorstaidh Beaton - Father Eugene's Welcome To Cape North; St Kilda's Wedding / Mae Bradbury - Shiver / Jack Pout - Breaking Of Old Branches / Matt Tighe - Were You At The Rock?;  The College Groves / Rosie Hodgson - Liverpool Lullaby / The Crosstown Trio - My Heart Is Holding Up A Shield / Hugh Sheehan & Jack Mccaugherty - The Night Before

I must apologize for having to love you and leave you now as I need to sit back and enjoy the rest of this awards show. But, before I do so please enjoy the video below from a US indie folk band I only stumbled across yesterday, thanks to them following me on Twitter first. The song is Don't Give Up On Me and I think WOW sums it up perfectly, in brief. Much more from Harvest Breed to come soon! So delightful.

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