Posts Tagged ‘june tabor’

Cambridge Folk Festival 2012 – Friday July 27

Posted on August 2nd, 2012 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Kevin Bourke
Photo of Raghu Dixit by Philip Ryalls/Redferns

One of the many reasons why the Cambridge Folk Festival is the pre-eminent event of its kind in Europe is that for decades the organisers have fearlessly programmed popular veterans alongside up-and-comers and the sort of world music or blues acts that you wouldn’t normally find in any folk club. 

In common with many other big festivals, though, the sheer number of performances and an increasing number of stages, notably the addition of the youth-orientated The Den this year, can lead to clashes. Pretty much as soon as I arrived, I fell foul of a combination of poor timing, parking issues and suddenly finding that I would actually have to walk past BBC Folk Award-winning veteran Steve Tilston on Stage 2 meant missing Songlines favourite Raghu Dixit on Stage One early Friday afternoon. By all accounts, though, he blew the crowd away.

The same could be said for the usually-reliable Irish traditional band Four Men & A Dog, staging one of their occasional reunions on Stage One. But in this case, it was not their impeccable musicianship and the showmanship of bodhrán player Gino Lupari that left an indelible impression but the sheer volume of their set which had people moving.

By the time they were followed on the main stage by another hugely popular reunion, the magnificent June Tabor & Oysterband, the sound had started to settle down for one of the festival’s early highlights. June and the Oysters’ John Jones, the Gram and Emmylou of heart-on-sleeve committed folk-rock, not only kicked proverbial butt on the expected likes of ‘Bonnie Bunch O’Roses’, but also offered some fascinating surprises, confessing a shared admiration of The Velvet Underground, for instance, before playing ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’. They dug out the tragedy underneath the myth on a truly transcendent version of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, too.

By contrast, Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow was the new kid in town, despite his impressive beard. After storming Stage Two last year, he was promoted to the key position of mid-evening on the Main Stage, although that meant going head-to-head with the Opening of the Olympics, screening (silently) on the TV screen in the bar. McMorrow’s songs of heartbreak and desire proved a convincing winner in this particular competition.

At the first Cambridge Folk Festival I ever attended back in 1972, John Prine performed, as did Steve Goodman. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then and Prine has had his own challenges to face. But he celebrated his late friend ‘Stevie’ with a version of ‘Souvenirs’ that was just one of the highlights of a set that fairly bristled with tremendous songs, wryly and winningly delivered by a veteran who by now has a huge and virtually unimpeachable back-catalogue. 

Traditionally, the closing acts are not of the introspective songwriter persuasion, which neither Stage One’s 12-piece Scottish folk big-band Treacherous Orchestra or Stage Two’s even bigger band The Destroyers, with their “gypsy folk music with a Gothic turbo charge,” could reasonably be accused of. Both, it should be said, were considerably livelier than that tedious, supposedly-celebratory Olympic Opening Parade.

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The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012

Posted on February 10th, 2012 in Recent posts by .

As industry folk and, for the first time, members of the public took to their seats in The Lyric theatre at the Lowry, there was some speculation about which celebs would be gracing the stage to present the dozen or so awards this year. It’s the first time the event has been held outside of the capital and the Lowry is within spitting distance of the BBC’s new northern home at Media City, on the quayside of Salford. It came as not much of a surprise that the first presenters were from Manchester’s long-running ITV soap, Corrie. It also seemed fitting that The Dubliners would round off the evening with ‘Dirty Old Town’, written by Salford’s finest singer-songwriter Ewan MacColl. Ralph McTell, who presented The Dubliners with their Lifetime Achievement Award, perfectly summed up their long-lasting appeal, saying that there was “a brightness and boisterousness to their music.”

There were a handful of truly memorable live performances – some for all the right reasons, namely The Unthanks singing with The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band from West Yorkshire, who did a wonderfully evocative rendition of a song about a Derbyshire pigeon fancier. Then there was the excruciating moment when the collective cringing of the audience listening to Don McLean’s badly out of tune guitar was almost palpable. Fortunately McLean, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, pulled his reputation back from the brink with a second and more in tune song.

Other favourite musical highlights were Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott playing Kevin Littlewood’s nominated Best Original Song, ‘On Morecambe Bay,’ about the tragic plight of immigrant cockle pickers. And Best Duo winners Brendan Power and Tim Edey (who also won Musician of the Year), who I’m ashamed to say have so far been overlooked by Songlines.

And the other winners? Well, the night definitely belonged to June Tabor and Oysterband who collectively won Folk Singer of the Year, Best Album, Best Group and Best Traditional Track. It seemed to be a celebration of the veterans and more mature artists within the current scene, with the recently reformed The Home Service winning Best Live Act. The Songlines office verdict was that this award should have been a shoo-in for Bellowhead, what with their impressively energetic festival shows and seemingly never-ending tour schedule last year.

So it was a relief to see relative youngster Bella Hardy jointly winning the Best Original Song award with Steve Tilston. And of course, the Horizon Award which went to Derby’s Lucy Ward and the Young Folk Award going to the Irish group Ioscaid (apparently pronounced Iss-Kidge) – we look forward to checking these guys out live and also to their debut album.

So, despite the swish new location, a new co-presenter for Mike Harding, Julie Fowlis, who brought a good dose of glamour to the stage, plus some recognition for a handful of new, young names, the evening very much had a ‘tried and tested’ formula about it. Perhaps it’s time to shake up the awards event even more and have an overhaul on the voting and selection process?

You can check out all of the performances (and do your own cringing to ‘And I Love You So’) by visiting the BBC website:



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BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012

Posted on February 8th, 2012 in News, Recent posts by .

Congratulations to the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012 winners!

The winners were announced during a ceremony that took place at the Lowry Theatre in Salford earlier this evening with a star-studded night and performances by The Dubliners, Christy Moore, Don McLean and Seth Lakeman.

And this year’s winners are…

June Tabor

Tim Edey & Brendan Power

June Tabor & Oysterband

Ragged Kingdom – June Tabor & Oysterband

The Herring Girl – Bella Hardy
The Reckoning – Steve Tilston

Bonny Bunch of Roses – June Tabor & Oysterband

Lucy Ward

Tim Edey

The Home Service


The Dubliners

Don McLean

Ian Campbell

Bill Leader

Malcolm Taylor

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