Folk Awards 2013

Posted 20 Feb 2013 in NEWS by LAWRENCE

It’s 7 o’clock in the morning at the Ibis hotel, city centre, Glasgow, Thursday, 31st January 2013. It’s difficult to recount and put into perspective the events of yesterday, on a windy night at the Royal Concert Hall.

For Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, last night’s winner of the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, this is the culmination and deserved appreciation of all their hard work.

I recall seeing Greg first perform at the Chester Folk Day a few years back, and then a coming together in Greg & Ciaran’s first performance at Northwich Folk Club. It is difficult to believe that the next stops are Cambridge and Towersey Folk Festivals. Bring it on!

As for the awards ceremony, if I had to pencil in a group of artists to help make this even more special, then last night’s line up was on the mark – I speak of Lau, Karine Polwart, Billy Bragg, the Treacherous Orchestra, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, and, of course, Dougie Maclean.

A special mention goes to Lau who picked up the Best Band award and who will headline our 2013 Folk at the Hall festival day at Trelawnyd (August 3), and to Blair Dunlop who deserves so much receiving the Horizon Award.

Of particular note was Dougie’s Lifetime Achievement Award. It was pretty emotional as the likes of Karine Polwart, Kris Drever, Martha Wainwright, Eddie Reader, Barbara Dickson, John McCusker and many more, joined Dougie in filling what seemed like the whole of Glasgow with a very special rendition of Caledonia.

After the show we retreated to an affordable bar to reflect on Greg & Ciaran’s exciting journey and night. Incredible is the word. Nothing planned for today, bar implementing the recovery from last night’s celebrations.

Friday: It’s 4.48pm, Friday 1st February. Yesterday passed. We all felt a little dazed by happenings of Wednesday night, so we retreated to the cinema to watch Les Miserables. Then we opt for an early night.

Today’s away gig, at the O2 ABC 1 Glasgow, is to see Bellowhead, themselves award winners of the Best Album Award on Wednesday night. We start the day with a visit to the Cathedral, followed by random explorations of Glasgow’s city streets, but with an end in sight, the Willows Tea Room, for afternoon tea (posh). After a day of culture and cake stands we look forward to the gig itself.

Saturday 7.47am: last night we headed over to the venue, and found a position to the left of the stage. First on was the Orkney based collaboration The Chair, who played an energetic set, getting the crowd into the evening from the start.

Not having seen these guys before (apart from the Saltfish Forty element) it struck me how utterly impressive some of these Celtic fusions can be, each with its own identity.

Whether it’s the Peatbog’s dance beats, the Imagined Village’s worldly ensemble, or the frenzy that is the Treacherous Orchestra, there is something in this for everyone. The Chair have their own version of this evolving format, joined by Messrs Spiers and Boden at one point for a battle of sounds between three fiddles and three accordions! That about sums it up.

This prepared the way of course for the biggest collaboration of current times - Bellowhead. Jon Boden commanded the stage from the off, arms raised, jacket off, on, off, introducing one song as being ‘cutting edge’ (from the early 19th century), and another as being from romantic Swindon.

This is a group with an uncanny ability to turn traditional into current and fun, without selling out. Reviewing Bellowhead is not what I have the audacity to do here. Let’s just say they stormed through the set to huge applause. A great night.

Sunday 8.45am: Well it’s that time and day when everything seems thoroughly miserable – it’s Sunday, the gigs are finished, and we head back, nicely to home, the dog, the cats, and not so nicely to work and normality.

Not surprisingly yesterday was a great day too. We started with the now standard cultural fix, visiting two galleries and museums before heading for a city centre pub to discretely watch the England v Scotland 6 Nations match, which we counted as being part of the culture kick.

Finally on to Glasgow’s City Halls to see Karine Polwart. We are massive Karine fans. Last night’s performance just about fully covered the new album ‘Traces’ which is itself an exquisite array of emotion packed songs. This was, we thought, a very fine way to complete our first experience of Celtic Connections and the fair city of Glasgow.

I’m not sure we’ll experience the same again. Well done Greg & Ciaran …. well done! Thanks Stephen and Eleisha for your company. Until the next time.


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