Two days after the Trads I’m still suffering. Over a quiet pint on Sunday night Ewen Henderson of Manran and the Battlefield Band describes the evening as if the clocks leapt back five hours after the ceremony itself finished. I agree wholeheartedly (clutching my head). I believe myself and a group of winners, losers and hangers on were ordered to bed by Hotel staff around 7am as they wanted to set up for breakfast in peace. I was convinced it was 2am at the very latest.
Perth, the perfect centre, the gateway to the highlands and the heart of Scotland and, as Perth’s Provost informs us, “Music and Song are at the heart of our nations psyche.” (See what he did there!) The Scots Trad. Music Awards is held in the sophisticated surroundings of Perth Concert Hall. Last year Perthshire, closely resembing Hoth, made any attempt to get there almost impossible. This year over a thousand determined folks and folkies have put in twice the effort put on their posh frocks and penguin suits and made their way to what has now become the nearest thing Scottish folkies have to the office Christmas party.
I usually split my time at the Trad Music Awards between the front door, the bar and the main hall. This year I sat through the whole ceremony. Head buried in my laptop frantically typing the official live blog. My main concerns were threefold 1) Battery life of a laptop, 2) Large quantities of liquid being consumed near to the same 3) Dealing with the folk around me who were consuming the large quantities of liquid.
1) The battery died just as the ceremony came to a close. A good thing.
2) Nothing was spilled on the laptop although a quick glance at the ticker tape of the live blog shows that something red and alcoholic was certainly spilled into the mouth of it’s operator. Which is why the battery dying was a good thing.
3) This was not so easy. I like chatting to folk and, after a few drams, most folk like chatting too. Unfortunately a defect of birth prevents me (and all men) from being able to work on a computer and hold a conversation that exceeds anything more complicated than mistimed grunting noises, nods and the occasional shrug. If you were one of the people who tried to communicate with me in any way other than through the medium of social media I apologise for my rudeness wholeheartedly!
So this is a fairly loose account of the evening reassembled from wine stained notes, the live blog and wild bits of gossip and half truth extracted from passing musicians. Like me it’s going to be fairly opinionated and inaccurate but I’m not too proud so feel free to disagree or even go against the default setting of OUTRAGE and comment in the positive.
The first award was the Coda Music Venue of the Year and it went somewhat to the Ben Nevis Bar in Glasgow. Most of the folk bands to come out of the city in the last ten years have begun life around the table at the back of the Ben Nevis. The session there, originally started by members of Croft Number Five around 1997, has grown into a standard part of any Glasgow based musicians rights of passage. Bands formed there include Back of the Moon, Emily Smith Band, The Trecherous Orchestra (and all the side projects that led up to it creation) etc. Also if you look closely at a lot of band photos you’re sure to spot the Ben’s gantry stuffed with more rare malts that is safe.
Event of the Year was won by Orkney Folk Festival. Accepting the Award Gavin Cullen said, “Orkney is blessed with a committee of both youth and,” he paused selecting the most political of adjectives, “experience.”
A well deserved win of Instrumentalist of the Year for Innes Watson. He’s worked tirelessly with many projects over the last few years most notably The Trecherous Orchestra and the folk funk crossover of Man’s Ruin. One of the biggest cheers of the night went to another of Scotland’s rising talents Siobhan Miller who won the Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year.
Scottish Folk Band of the Year sponsored by All Celtic Music won by the Battlefield Band. It was great to see the Batty’s take this title again. Ali White of the band dedicating the award to Alan Reid, who played with the band from the get go until the beginning of this year. This was to be Ewen Henderson’s first of three visits to the stage. Although I’m still not sure which was the second but the third was with Manran who picked up Album of the Year for their Phil Cunningham produced debut CD.
Gaelic Singer of the Year sponsored by Macmeanmna won by Norrie MacIver. Norrie used to play with Bodega and has been busy with Manran. He commented that this year has been wonderful. The best two hours of his life were spent above Cheryl Cole… in the charts… when Manran were attempting to get a Gaelic song into the top 40. His granny will be proud. As long as they cut the Cheryl Cole bit from the live broadcast.
Composer of the Year sponsored by PRS for Music won by Aidan O’ Rourke. One of three of the evening’s winners to loose his trophy. Not uncommon at the Trads. You will know him I’m sure from his work with Lau but can I highly recommend an album he released in collaboration with The An Tobar Arts Centre in Mull called An Tobar.
Community Project of the Year sponsored by Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust was won by Blazin in Beauly. Blazin in Beauly was conceived by Blazin Fiddles. They themselves came from a chip in their collective shoulders that while the fiddle music of Ireland, Cape Breton and America was well represented on the nation’s airwaves it was almost impossible to hear anything from Scotland. The band set up this week of concerts, teaching and general good craik a few years ago and it quickly became a major draw, attracting tutors and participants from across the world.
There are three special awards, the only ones for which the public doesn’t vote. The Hall of Fame Performers is awarded to musicians who have been in the industry over 30 years who have altered our musical landscape for the better including musicians, now no longer with us. Alasdair Fraser, was the first to enter the Hall of Fame this year. After playing a fantastic set with Natalie ‘The Groovemeister’ Haas. He spoke well and received a rousing cheer after his speech. In which he mentioned how thankful he was to witness a huge change in the Scottish condition, the psyche and is glad to have been involved in fanning the flames in any extent. His goal was to follow the fiddle and find his voice and encourage others to find their voice. He toasted the death of the ‘Celtic Cringe’ that had blighted Scottish music for years.
Guitar god Bert Jansch was also inducted. It was very sad to hear about Bert’s passing earlier this year. He was a really nice bloke although a man of very few words. I met him first on Arran where I was playing at his wedding. We’d got the gig simply because we’d been spotted on the ferry earlier that day carrying instruments. We ran into him a few more times most notably in my home town of Grantown on Spey where we managed to have a session with him for a couple of hours after his gig.
The Tannahill Weavers are simply legends and deserve a blog post of their very own. Suffice it to say that many of the top folk players known worldwide have either recorded, toured or at the very least partied with these stalwarts of the circuit.
The Services to Gaelic Music went to Tobar an Dualchais or Kist O Riches sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig Have you seen this yet. Look it up. It is a huge collections of songs, stories, tunes, radio shows and interviews from all over Scotland in both Gaelic, Scots and English. Well worth checking out especially if you’re visiting an area it would be a great way of finding interesting bits of history. Check out the ghost stories from Kingussie told by an ex-intelligence officer.
NB. Let’s clear something up here. Can I ask that you read Gaelic with the a sound from ‘bah’ rather than ‘bare’. Gaelic with the ‘bah’ sound, a bit like garlic if you like is Scottish Gaelic and Gaelic with the ‘bare’ sound, a bit like garish is the Irish Gaelic and a completely different language. Okay! I had to get that off my chest.
Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award -This award was introduced in 2003 to celebrate those special people whom Scottish traditional music couldn’t do without. It was posthumously awarded to Hamish Henderson and thereafter known as “The Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award.” In 2005 when the Hall of Fame was born it was decided to bring the two awards together and insert recipients of both into the Hall of Fame. This year it was won by ‘King’ Arthur Cormack. Described by Mary Ann Kennedy as a unique voice and a quietly determined soul.
Under Arthur’s direction the Feis movement was born. Earlier in the ceremony we had heard from the Feis Rois 25th Anniversary Band which alone featured among it’s ranks Corrina Hewat, two members of The Shee, two members of Treacherous Orchestra and Mairearad Green of the Poozies and many other well known performers. Bear in mind that there are currently around 13000 children and teenagers involved in Feis activities every year. On top of this Arthur spent the nineties and the early naughties driving from Feis to Feis MC’ing and performing at Tutor ceilidh’s. What a star… Wouldn’t like to see his mileage though!
Arthur is also behind Macmenema records which brought us albums by Blair Douglas, Julie Fowlis’s first album, two albums by Cliar and continues to release the very best in Gaelic and highland music. It was pointed out that we’ve been waiting since 1989 for a follow up to his influential Ruith Na Gaoith album. Maybe this win will spur him to make his third album.
A comment that also appeared on Twitter as he took the stage read, “The man deserves an award for writing reasonable, factual, statistically supported answers to every daft anti-Gaelic bigot that writes in an online newspaper comments section. The pateince of the man is beyond belief.” Hear hear!
And so the laptop died. And Salsa Celtica took the stage. I had to get out of the main hall for a bit and fell into the company of the Peatbog Faeries who had managed to wangle two bottles of Bunnahabain at a knock down price from a nearby off licence. We discussed knee injuries and a fruit that tasted like blue cheese and that’s about all I remember. Apart from a somewhat cringe-worthy attempt at playing a Stornoway’s Zorbing on guitar.
I’ve missed out loads of what happened on the night but I’m fairly sure that you can find proper references online somewhere. A full list of winners can be found here www.scottishcultureonline.com/mgalbascotstradmusicawardswinners/ and you can watch the awards and the music on the BBC iplayer.
From the Night
Photos by Louis DeCarlo All rights reserved
Video clips from the night:
How the Scots Open an Award Ceremony