BBC Young Folk Awards

A few weeks ago a group of us from Furness Tradition were fortunate to attend the finals of this year’s BBC Young Folk Awards at the Brewery in Kendal. There were 10 acts; all of them were exceptionally good, and the variety of different musical styles was amazing. One act sang shanties, another was a singer-songwriter. Some acts played acoustic instruments, others used technology.

For the performers, the weekend included tutoring and mentoring by the likes of John Spiers and Rachel McShane of Bellowhead. Here’s what John had to say “A few weeks ago Rachael and I had the privilege of being the workshop leaders and judges at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards weekend in Kendal.  We had a great time sharing our knowledge and working with such a talented and varied bunch of up and coming musicians.  The standard of the performances in the semi-final concert was mind-bogglingly good and the judging panel took longer than the concert itself to discuss the performances and arrive at the 4 finalists who will go through to the full Folk Awards next year.”

I can well believe that it took the  panel such a long time to decide the final shortlist, and I did not envy their task.

To hear who the finalists are and listen to some of the performances, tune in to Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe on 20th November. Highlights of the concert will be televised on the BBC red button channel but I don’t know the times yet.

Steeleye Span

One of my favourite bands have combined their talents with one of my favourite authors. At a time when most bands of their generation would be resting on their laurels, Steeleye have found inspiration in the work of author Terry Pratchett. They have worked with him on a brand new project based on Pratchett’s ‘Wintersmith’ novel – a tale of ancient rituals and secret folk dances. The album features special guests Terry Pratchett, Kathryn Tickell and John Spiers. It is released on the 28th of October.

The track listing looks very interesting. I look forward to hearing this.

1. The Dark Morris
2. Ancient Eyes
3. The Good Witch
4. The Wee Free Men
5. Wintersmith
6. You
7. The Summer Lady
8. Love Enough
9. Hiver
10. First Dance
11. Fire & Ice
12. Crown & Ice
13. Band of Teachers
14. We Shall Wear Midnight
15. The Dark Morris Tune

Nic Jones

The Enigma of Nic Jones – Return of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero

BBC 4 at 10:00pm Friday 27 September


The Enigma of Nic Jones - Return of Britain‘s Lost Folk Hero

Having seen Nic perform at the Shepherd’s building in Bowness shortly before his road accident, this documentary is not to be missed.

The programme follows the return to performing of the celebrated folk musician Nic Jones, whose career was cruelly cut short after a car crash in 1982.

Apart from a couple of tribute concerts, Nic Jones disappeared from the public eye for thirty years. Then in the summer of 2012, encouraged by friends and family, Nic returned to the stage to play several festival performances accompanied by his guitarist son, Joe Jones and keyboard player Belinda O’Hooley. The concerts were a resounding success and for his old and new fans, a moving comeback for their musical hero.

Featuring contributions from BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners Jim Moray, Eliza Carthy, Sam Carter and Blair Dunlop, plus American singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell, folk legends Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Chris Wood and ex Fairport Convention founder Ashley Hutchings.

It is also being repeated on September 28th at 2.00 am and the 30th at 2.30 am, so set your recorders.

Summer Festivals

For most people the summer holidays are now over and the kids have gone back to school. Did you go to any festivals during the summer? What was your opinion of them? What did you think of the facilities? Which acts did you enjoy the most? Which acts did you not enjoy?


To answer my own questions, I went to the Green Man Festival in Wales. The loos and showers were an improvement on any that I’ve experienced in previous years at other festivals. Patti Smith and Roy Harper were excellent – he’s mellowed with age. I also enjoyed Johnny Flynn,  Sam Amidon, Rachel Zeffira, Fernhill, Dan Bettridge and Lau. If you like American folk rock you will like Band of Horses. I was really knocked out by the Urban Folk Quartet who I’d never seen before. I was underwhelmed by the Kings of Convenience who struck me as a watered down version of Simon and Garfunkel.

Now let’s hear your views.