Music Blog

This week on my new BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, I’ve got some undisputed legends in session: electric folk pioneers Fairport Convention. A band who, despite their fair share of troubles, have continued to be a welcome presence on the folk scene for more than 45 years.

Folk audiences hold their elders in particularly high regard and aren’t easily distracted by fashions or fads. This was writ large at last year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, when the fruitful collaboration between June Tabor and Oysterband – two acts who first collaborated 20 years ago – swept the board. This was mostly considered good news by folk fans. It was a fine album, and the prizes were well deserved. But there was an element who, understandably, wondered aloud why younger acts hadn’t been better represented by the results.

June Tabor & Oysterband at the 2012 Folk Awards

The 2013 Folk Awards take place in Glasgow next week, and the landscape has subtly, but significantly, changed. Sam Lee, that remarkable young promoter, singer, dancer and song-collector from Kentish Town, released his highly original debut album in 2012 and it’s already been recognised by a Mercury Prize nomination and by winning fRoots magazine’s Critic’s Poll. Sam has two nominations. Karine Polwart, Lau, Bellowhead, Jim Moray, Sam Sweeney and Duncan Chisholm are other acts receiving multiple nominations this year. Serial nominees some of them may be, but the music they are making is, pretty much without exception, fresh, inspired, modern and challenging. The scope and quality of the five records in this year’s ‘Best Album’ category is astounding.

Of course, shiny awards are by no means the be-all and end-all, least of all in the folk world, with its assorted traditions stretching back hundreds of years. But, in the year that Bellowhead sailed up the charts and found themselves on Radio 2’s daytime playlist, the 2013 Folk Awards should offer further evidence that British folk music is enjoying another of its purple patches. Fans and critics who have yet to discover its delights are looking over and wondering once again what the fuss is about, and I sincerely hope that, after the Folk Awards open the door to the folk world, they’ll step inside and bide a while, for the music and the company is among the best they will ever find. I for one am thrilled to be getting more closely involved at this time.

- Mark Radcliffe hosts the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 30 January. Listen live on Radio 2 from 7.30pm, or watch all the presentations and performances on the BBC’s Red Button TV service or the Radio 2 website.

- The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe

- Mark Radcliffe’s Music Club on BBC Radio 2

- Radcliffe and Maconie on BBC Radio 6 Music

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by Dave MacLurg

    on 3 Feb 2013 00:24

    I have just watched the BBC2 Folk Awards and, I'm sorry, it was the most dreary boring experience. There were no singers or musicians who presented anything that I enjoyed listening to. How do you come up with all these people? Is it just me or are there other people who are left cold by what is billed as the best in British folk music? I enjoy folk music I hear many singers and musicians who are a joy to listen to and who inspire me but not the introspective, the muttering or the tuneless.

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by US Rock News

    on 31 Jan 2013 06:04

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 7. Posted by US Rock News

    on 31 Jan 2013 06:01

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 6. Posted by PNoakes

    on 30 Jan 2013 19:15

    Please play some Runrig Mark, these's so much to choose from. It's their 40th year anniversay this year and they have a huge, and I mean huge, following. So get them on as a matter of urgency.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by Leonard Fairground

    on 25 Jan 2013 17:45

    Have you listened to your Payroll Union CD from Sheffield yet? Give Bob Harris a go won't you. Great show Mark.

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by elderlybrother

    on 25 Jan 2013 14:17

    Loving your new show Mark. Enjoying Mike Harding's new podcast too. The best of both worlds as far as I'm concerned! I sincerely hope that Mike Harding is going to receive some sort of special lifetime achievment award at the Folk Awards, if not this year, in the not too distant future. Agree??

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by Listener

    on 24 Jan 2013 20:05

    No disrespect to you Mark, I am sure you are doing your best, but please, please bring back Mike Harding. I am sorry but his show was so, so much better and we miss him loads.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Raceit

    on 24 Jan 2013 18:59

    Wonderful show the breath of fresh air this show needed. All the best.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by jim and jo

    on 23 Jan 2013 18:56

    mark i want to say "thankyou - thankyou - thankyou" for bringing folk music back to my living room. Since Jim Lloyd moved on, we have been bombarded with far too much americana style music. But. boy what a breath of fresh air your programme is, please keep up with the very good work. Will see you the folk awards, jim n jo b

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