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February 2011

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.

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Transatlantic Sessions: a Big Society that works


Football and folk music parallels occur to Pete Sixsmith as he marvels at the virtuosity and flair of the Transatlantic Sessions ensemble with memories of similar qualities still fresh from footie the night before ...

Last Tuesday night I watched in grudging admiration as Chelsea’s collection of superstars swept Sunderland away at the Stadium of Light. Twenty four hours later, I was equally awed by another set of superstars as the Transatlantic Sessions swept into The Sage at Gateshead.

Continuing the footballing analogy, there was a solid back four of McGoldrick, McCusker, Cunningham and Bain, with an elegant but gritty midfield three in Douglas, Cleveland and Powell. Up front, the elegant Fowlis played in the hole behind Brady and the end result was a great triumph for Roots Music and a wonderful night for the audience.

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