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Folk coverage on the BBC

Friday 21 February 2014, 11:51

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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Editor's Note: You can listen to Feedback online or download it here.

Suzanne Vega at the 2014 Folk Awards Suzanne Vega at the 2014 Folk Awards

So there I was in Bellowhead’s dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall, surrounded by empty bottles of champagne, caviar and lines of white powder. Draped upon the chaise longues, in the glow of low level  lighting which added to the deep red of the carpet and the velvet walls, were scores of groupies waiting for their personal interviews with the band.

Well that’s the fantasy. The reality was that the dressing room was closer to one you would find allocated to an away team at Hackney marshes before they went out to play onto the muddy windswept football pitches, there were no intoxicants apparent, and the only people in the room with the band were members of the Feedback team.

My producer and I were there, together with listener Diana Butler, to find out more about the BBC’s coverage of folk and whether it makes sense to talk of folk music as a separate discipline any more.

Well that was the excuse.

Apart from being very friendly and totally sober, the multi instrumentalists of Bellowhead were fascinating about the way they and other bands moved back and forward across the musical spectrum.

We moved on to a much smaller dressing room, where I hit my head on the ceiling. This was occupied by one of the Folk Awards presenters, Mark Radcliffe, whose ‘rider’ (what his contract says has to be in his dressing room) amounted to a large bottle of water, two small cans of pale ale, and some crisps.

Meanwhile, across London all sorts of exotic things were being consumed at the Brit awards. The latter dominated the next day’s headlines despite the fact that four and a half thousand people packed into the Royal Albert Hall for the folk awards, millions listened on Radio 2 at home or watched via the red button or via live streaming. And the musicianship of Clannad, Suzanne Vega, Bellowhead and The Full English who performed live was superb.

Full English at Radio 2's Folk Awards 2014 Full English at Radio 2's Folk Awards 2014

It all seemed a long way from the Isle of White in the 60’s when Bob Dylan was called “Judas” for going electric.

Here is the resulting Feedback feature. Far to short of course. You can still get the awards ceremony itself on the iPlayer radio.

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Also this week masses of listeners wrote in about Today’s coverage of climate change and GM foods. The programme declined to put up someone for interview. As a result, when I talked to some of those listeners I had to put the BBC ‘s defence to them myself. Its not really a desirable outcome, and I think it is a shame that the programme, which always points out, with obvious disapproval, when politicians refuse to come on their show, refuses to talk to its own listeners who, via the licence fee, pay all their salaries. 

Roger Bolton

UPDATE: Since writing this blog, Jamie Angus, the Editor of Today, has told me he will come onto Feedback in March and answer any questions you want to put to him. So please contact Feedback with your questions for him.

Roger Bolton presents Feedback on Radio 4.

Listen to this week's Feedback

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    Comment number 1.

    All I want to say is BBC please bring back Mike Harding!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Much better to have folk music on the radio than coverage of the Winter Olympics. Fortunately, I heard very little coverage of the Games, best to keep them off the radio. Cognitive scientists tell us that where an image lacks detail our brain fills in the gaps. This can lead us to believe, for example, that we see a face where none exists. Listening to the Winter Olympics on the wireless requires the brain to work 10 to the dozen: in many cases it is simply a matter of competitors starting on high ground and trying to get to low ground as quickly as possible. Nonsense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    This increasing reluctance of BBC personnel to appear on Feedback is deeply concerning. Every invitation that is rejected is a kick in the teeth to licence fee payers and Feedback listeners. The Today programme has had a change of heart, but licence-fee payers still need to know why they had the microphone jabbed in their face, as it were. Was the change of heart voluntary, or did someone on the side of licence-fee payers make a suggestion? Never mind the Folk Awards, we need the Feedback Chicken Awards for those programmes too afraid to put someone forward for Feedback. By the way, I didn't hear the interview with Lord Lawson, but I do not see why someone should be ruled out of commenting on global warming simply because they are not a scientist. Politicians of Lord Lawson's standing are quite capable of making a fair summary of the information contained in scientific journals, papers etc.


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