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BBC Folk Awards 2011: Donovan, Bellowhead, Chris Wood dominate


Salut! Live readers with memories will know that after several years as a member of the voting panel, I excluded myself from this year's BBC Folk Awards process. So anything that follows will have an even bolder mark of objectivity ... apologies for relying earlier on the BBC press release, minor grammatical lapses and all. I was a bit stretched over at Salut! Sunderland ...

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When I was a much younger folkie, we knew where we stood on Donovan. Hummable, singable pop, maybe, but not Dylan and not folk in a million years.

Attitudes - rightly, I would say - have changed.

And while I can hardly claim to have been hugely familiar with Donovan's work since the days of Catch the Wind and Mellow Yellow - which, secretly of course, I liked even then - I do know that he has beavered away in commendable fashion for 40+ years and therefore deserves his Lifetime Achievement Award, presented at last night's ceremony.

There were also key honours in the 12th annual BBC Folk Awards 2011 for Bellowhead, Chris Wood and Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends.

Donovan received his award with these words: "I'm honoured to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from the Radio 2 Folk Awards. I was fired with the mission to bring Celtic music back to popular culture and I'm so glad the new generations have taken up the torch."


The Good Tradition Award, presented by Kate Rusby, was won by the singing group, Port Issac's Fisherman's Friends, and marked their contribution to "the continuation of traditional folk music", underlined by the eponymous album that reached the UK top 10 charts last year.


The BBC described Bellowhead (best group, best live act) and Chris Wood (folk singer of the year, best original song) as the big winners of the night, broadcast live for the first time.

Let's hope Bob Shennan, controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music, meant it when he said: "The Folk Awards are a highlight of the Radio 2 music calendar and perfectly exemplify the network's commitment to a rich and diverse range of music. As the folk scene goes from strength to strength I'm really proud of Radio 2's involvement in the genre."

The Musician of the Year award went to the brilliant, versatile Andy Cutting, the second time he has collected the honour in four years. Nancy Kerr and James Fagan formed the Best Duo and the Levellers won the Roots Award.

Album of the year was Gift, by Eliza Carthy and her mum, Norma Waterson.


BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011
Winners and Award Presenters

Lifetime Achievement Award

Donovan – presented by Mark Radcliffe

The Good Tradition Award

Port Issac's Fisherman's Friends – presented by Kate Rusby

Best Group

Bellowhead – presented by Tamsin Grieg

Folk Singer Of The Year

Chris Wood – presented by Joan Armatrading

Musician Of The Year

Andy Cutting – presented by Roger Daltrey

The Roots Award

Levellers – presented by Jeremy Vine

Best Duo

Nancy Kerr & James Fagan – presented by Charles Hazlewood

Best Traditional Track

Poor Wayfaring Stranger, by Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson – presented by Maddy Prior

Best Original Song
Hollow Point by Chris Wood – presented by Chris Difford

Horizon Award

Ewan McLennan – presented by Andy Irvine

Album Of The Year

Gift by Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson – presented by Joanna Trolloppe

Best Live Act

Bellowhead – presented by Frank Skinner

BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award

Moore/Ross/Rutter – presented by Tim Van Eyken


Gordon Taylor

I saw Donovan in September, headlining at Moseley Folk. His 70s albums were being remastered and reissued and I feared the worst when I saw the full band set-up but he was absolutely spot on, just what you would want from a 'legend' closing a great day's music. Did a great solo acoustic set, mainly hits but with little gems like 'Josie' and 'Lalena' thrown in. Then he brought on a cracking band of seasoned pros to knock out great versions of 'Sunshine Superman', 'Hurdy Gurdy Man', 'Season Of The Witch' and the rest. Talking afterwards with a mate, the only hit we could think of that he hadn't played was 'Celia Of The Seals', which we agreed was a good thing!

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