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Happy Christmas

Mike Harding | 10:23 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Well it's been a strange old year ­ what with the fuss about MPs expenses and all that.

I'm glad the press didn't find out about me claiming "Molly", my campervan, as a second home, or for the moat at Harding Towers being filled with single malt whisky, or the vet's charges for sticking the feathers back on the budgie after the cleaner vacuumed it up thinking it was one of my fishing flies gone wrong.

Then there was the weather.  The "barbecue summer" promised by the weathermen had most of us wondering whether we shouldn't have started building arks. Still, mustn't grumble, and I'm sure the webbed feet will go away, given time.

News from the world of folk music, however, has been far more cheering. I saw some absolutely terrific live gigs - from Martin Simpson on main stage Cambridge, to the Demon Barber Roadshow in the Yorkshire Dales.

As for albums . . . when the list of albums to be considered for the Folk Awards came up on my computer I was amazed to see how many ­ not just good but great ­ albums have appeared this year. If fine albums were the only criteria, then it would seem that folk music is in a healthier state than it has ever been.

My own personal favourites?  Ruth Notman, Jackie Oates, Martin Simpson, Show of Hands, Colum Sands and Little Johnny England spring to mind. What am I looking forward to? Well, I'm hoping that John Tams and Altan will come up with a new album this year and that somebody will drag Dave Burland into the studio and not let him out until he's produced another great album. And somebody to look out for? Well, if I was a betting man, I'd put money on young Ewan McLennan making something of a stir in 2010.

Anyway, time to dip a glass in the moat to wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas. See you in the New Year!


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