Once again, this year, the team at Hands Up For Trad presented a magnificent event, celebrating the very best in Scots trad music from 2017. Renfrewshire was the venue as Paisley hosted the 15th MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards at the historic town’s Lagoon Centre. The proceedings were once again broadcast live on BBC ALBA, BBC Radio Scotland and globally through the BBC ALBA website, and presented by Mary Ann Kennedy, Tony Kearney and Linda MacLeod.
Home of the highly successful Spree Festival, Paisley is currently bidding for the UK City of Culture 2021; and if Saturday night is anything to go by, the town certainly knows how to support and promote Scottish culture. With live sets from The Shee Big Band, Elephant Sessions, Siobhan Miller and many more. Hands Up for Trad’s Creative Director Simon Thoumire was as enthusiastic as ever about the event: “Every year we welcome some of the best talent in the world to these awards, and we are honoured to see our 15th year one of the biggest and best yet. We’ve had an outstanding evening with immense talent being showcased and celebrated, so congratulations once again to all of tonight’s nominees and worthy winners”.
There’s a full list of winners below; among them Neo-trad quintet Elephant Sessions, who followed up their 2014 Up & Coming Act of the Year Award, and last year’s Best Live Act nomination, with a thoroughly well-deserved Album of the Year 2017 Award, for All We Have is Now. The inspiring project to re-invigorate traditional song, Tiree Song Book, won Community Project of the Year and Stirling’s Tolbooth Theatre, which continues to provide and support an impressive number of trad music performances and workshops, was named Live Venue of the Year.
To say 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners Talisk were jubilant at being named Folk Band of the Year would be something of an under-statement, and the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards itself won the Trad Music in the Media Award. Although fans and musicians alike, year after year, hope that the unveiling of Simon Thoumire’s footwear choice for the evening will be named Event of the Year, on this occasion that honour went to Shooglenifty’s unforgettable Celtic Connections evening in memory of their much-missed front-man Angus R Grant, A Night For Angus.
Following the release this year of his exceptional tune book, The Errogie Collection – Volume 1, A typically bashful Adam Sutherland was named Composer of the Year. Siobhan Miller won the award for Scots Singer of the Year for the third time – having already won the same award in 2011 and 2013. Skipinnish followed up the highly successful BBC Alba airing of their recent Glasgow Barrowlands gig by winning the Live Act of the Year Award, and vibrant Highland foursome Hò-rò received the award for Up and Coming Artist of the Year.
Others who have made significant contributions to Scots & Gaelic culture were recognised at the wards. Dr Kenna Campbell was recently awarded an MBE ‘for services to Promotion of the Gaelic Language, Music and Gaelic Medium Education’. Gaelic singer/songwriter Joy Dunlop presented Kenna with a special award for Services to Gaelic Music. Following a standing ovation from the audience, Kenna encouraged us all to take up the language with typical humour “Learn Gaelic, please – it’s great for dealing with nuisance calls”. The annual Hamish Henderson Award was presented to Dr Jo Miller, one of the unsung heroes of Scottish traditional music, who acknowledged those who paved the way for Jo to follow her career and spoke eloquently about the importance of the links between traditional and community music.
The Award fur Services Tae Scots went tae scrievers Matthew Fitt and James Robertson, foonders o the wunnerful Itchy Coo buiks. Itchy Coo’s aim is tae promote the Scots leid in schules and get weans readin buiks again in their ain tongue. As weel as scrievers like Road Dahl, Julia Donaldson an A.A. Milne, In October they sett furth Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane. Wi a garrin screed Matthew Fitt makkit a stainch plea fur the ‘Precious, yet still marginalised Scottish language’ tae be taen seriously by oor ain government.
As always, The Scots Trad Music Awards was also all about live music – and there was a feast of it on offer. The Shee Big Band opened the show with some very special guests and the first track from their Continuum album, From The Shadows. That was setting the bar rather high for the rest of the evening, but NaTrads never disappoints, and this year was no exception. Ross Ainslie performed a truly outstanding solo pipe set that would, undoubtedly, have made his tutor and mentor Gordon Duncan very, very proud. We were treated to four songs from Scots Singer of the Year winner Siobhan Miller, including her upbeat and positive arrangement for Si Khan’s What You Do With What You Got, while her peerless ability with great Scots song was highlighted as Andy M Stewart’s Ramblin’ Rovers helped the audience find their voices. Elephant Sessions brought the audience to their feet and the evening, on the TV screens at least, to a storming close with an invigorating set. There was far more to enjoy, BBC Alba will be screening highlights over the coming weeks.
There’s doubt about it, 2017 has been a huge success, Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, managed to summarise the thoughts of all those who were there…“Every single category at this year’s MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards was bursting with talent, so it’s plain to see why 2017 has been such an amazing year for Scotland’s folk and trad music.”
Next year the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards will be hosted by the beautiful city of Perth. We can be certain that, once again, Hands Up For Trad and their partners will provide a memorable event that recognises the incredible talent and dedication of those involved in Scots Trad music.
MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2017 Winners
Album of the Year sponsored by Birnam CDs – All We Have Is Now by Elephant Sessions
Community Project of the Year sponsored by Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust – Tiree Songbook
Composer of the Year sponsored by PRS for Music – Adam Sutherland
Live Act of the Year sponsored by Greentrax Recordings – Skipinnish
Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year sponsored by Traditional Music and Song Association – Siobhan Miller
Up and Coming Artist Award sponsored by Royal Scottish Conservatoire – Hò-rò
Music Tutor of the Year sponsored by Creative Scotland – Emma Tomlinson
Gaelic Singer of the Year sponsored by Macmeanmna – Robert Robertson
Folk Band of the Year sponsored by Threads of Sound – Talisk
Dance Band of the Year sponsored by National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs – Duncan Black Band
Scottish Pipe Band of the Year sponsored by The Glenturret Single Malt Whisky – Inveraray & District Pipe Band
Club of the Year sponsored by Tradition Arts and Culture Scotland – Edinburgh Folk Club
Instrumentalist of the Year sponsored by Royal Scottish Country Dance Society – Gary Innes
Event of the Year sponsored by VisitScotland – A Night For Angus (Shooglenifty at Celtic Connections)
Trad Music in the Media sponsored by Skipinnish – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards
Venue of the Year sponsored by Musicians’ Union – Tolbooth (Stirling)
Watch it on BBC iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09h2stz/na-trads-2017