Tuesday, 28 April 2015

I Ain't Ever Heard No Horse Sing.....

Who the folk said that...
And just who was it who said that? Perhaps it's appropriate that a quote about folk music (all music is folk music - I ain't ever heard no horse sing) in the best tradition of the genre has no certainty about who was the original author!

So if all music is folk music - then what are the Radio 2 Folk Awards about? 

But we all know folk is a definable genre - any music you play on the weirdest stringed instrument you can find with a chin full of hair and your finger in your ear (adding in a bit of halitosis) and you have an authentic folk act!

Seriously if not all music is folk music - then what is folk music?

Folk music by definition is the music of the people - traditions honed through the years - yet I'm sat in the grand Millennium Centre in Cardiff (apparently totally authentic as it is made from purely welsh materials - there is a lot of slate - can't see much wool) and this appears a million miles away from seedy back rooms of pubs across the country where in weekly Folk Clubs folk songs are played and replayed.

If the folk fits - wear it....
Here in a stunning building with a set that is 'simply divine love', amongst the Champaign bottles and high heels and 'I'm sorry no alcohol and glass allowed in the auditorium'- is not where folk fits.

I'm failing to feel the authenticity of the Radio 2 Folk Awards - why are we awarding individuals in something that is the tradition of the people? How can you award the best traditional song of 2015? 

Mark Radcliffe in one of his introductions, with no irony intended and certainly missed by most, said 'Perhaps the ultimate compliment or greatest achievement for a folk songwriter is to have your songs absorbed into the folk canon so they are sung, often uncredited, by singers around the world' so why are we gathering to hand out weird looking trophies - why don't we all just get down to the local pub on their Open Mic nights and see if we can remember who did write that song?!

And really should any genre of music have awards? Do people really pour their heart and soul into the composition of a song so they can clutter up their mantelpieces with trophies - or to connect with others, with life, to express what others can't, and in doing so produce something greater than its musical parts?
Learning how the folk to dismount....   
In reality these awards are for Roots and Acoustic Music and for a certain group of artists within that genre - there are plenty of folk acts doing the circuit of the Village Halls and Folk Clubs who are not represented here tonight!

But I'm with great friends, on a night out and hearing some fantastic live music so once I get off my high horse (that no one ain't ever heard sing) I can start to enjoy the evening....

The game before the ceremony starts is spotting the muso, the artist, the wanna be, the music industry exec and the producers - solely by their dress and stance. It proves too easy!! Each category has very strict fashion rules!

So we listen to the free folk performances of local artists – nothing really grabs us (even the band - The Gentle Good [how apt a name] - who produced the best Welsh Album of 2014) – so its beer and weird flavoured ice-cream and then finding our authentic Welsh seats (ahh here's the wool!)…

Folk singer of the year: Nancy Kerr 
Best Duo: Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker 
Best Group: The Young 'Uns 
Best Album: Tincian – 9Bach 
Horizon Award: The Rails 
Musician of the year: Sam Sweeney 
Young Folk Award: Talisk 
Best Original Song: Swim To The Star - Peggy Seeger/Calum MacColl 
Best Traditional Track: Samhradh Samhradh - The Glaoming 
Lifetime achievement award: Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens and Loudon Wainwright III  
Good Tradition Award: Meredydd Evans 
Hall Of Fame: Ewan MacColl

My Own Awards from the Evening go to...
Best Line from an Acceptance Speech: The Young 'Uns - 'The whole reason we got into Folk Music in the first place was it so happened there was a Folk Club on in the only pub that would serve us underage'
Best New Genre: Folk Adjacent Music (Nancy Kerr)
Best Jobsworth: 'Sorry you bought those beers in our bar the other side of the foyer you can't sit this side even on this outside table'
Best Celebrity Moment: Mark Radcliffe at the beginning of the second half berating the audience for not being in their seats only to find it was Billy Bragg who was standing around chatting!
Best Moment: Seeing one of the loosing young artists heartily congratulate the winners
Best Music Moment: Guy Garvey and the MacColls - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Best Introduction: Nessa Jenkins
P.S. In the post this week my pre-order of Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies new album - if you want authentic folk - then catch them on their tour of Folk Clubs and Pubs across the country - just great songs and fantastic musicianship - no hype, no nominations and no awards unless you count the fact I've heard their songs played in local pubs...

Gig: 5 of 50
Date of Gig: Wed 22nd April 2015

Millennium Centre Cardiff

The Rails
Kate Rusby
Loudon Wainwright III
Ten in a Bus
Julie Fowlis
Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker
Guy Garvey & the MacColls
Yusef/Cat Stevens
9Bach with Penrhyn Male Voice Choir

Running total of artists seen 17

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