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Drever, Stewart, Guthrie honoured, Trump's dad 'remembered', Tony Blackburn revealed as folkie


The younger Tony B in more familiar guise: credit BBC

He irritates some, amuses or entertains others. I did see him once, deejaying at an old cinema in Ealing that's now a Christian centre. Whatever thoughts I've had about him (he does what he does and seems to do it well enough), I never had him down as a lapsed folkie. Learn about Tony Blackburn and the Swinging Bells, courtesy of this report of the BBC Folk Awards, which he presented ...

Presenting Al Stewart with a lifetime achievement honour in BBC Radio 2's annual folk awards this week, Tony Blackburn made the startling announcement - confession? - that he is a recovering folkie.

His choice of occasion to "come out" was apt. It was with Stewart that he performed briefly in Tony Blackburn and the Swinging Bells. The name would surely have been enough to put him off, as it would have done me.

But no. "He was a wonderful guitarist except that he was so loud that he drowned out my voice totally," the DJ said. "[But he] seems to have forgotten I was the one who gave him his chance".

Stewart (his Year of the Cat album can be bought at Salut! Live's Amazon link} named among his own influences Lonnie Donegan and Bob Dylan but not, curiously, Tony Blackburn. He also said a former roommate taught him how to write songs. The roommate went on to do quite well, too, It was Paul Simon.

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The singer-songwriter and slide guitarist Ry Cooder also received a lifetime achievement award and responded by performing Jesus on the Mainline.

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Scotland's quite excellent Kris Drever won folk singer of the year and also song of the year for If Wishes Were Horses, the title track of his third solo album (see it just above; it can also be purchased at our Amazon link). The song offers this harsh remedy for political dishonesty:

I wish that politician's ties

Would tighten up when they tell lies

Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Folk Awards hall of fame on the 50th anniversary of his death. Bill Bragg performed I Ain't Got No Home as a tribute to a man he called "the first real singer-songwriter" and "the father of the topical song tradition". Delicious factlet: the BBc report says research suggests Guthrie wrote an alternative version in 1950, father of and therefore 50 per cent responsible for Donald Trump.

The awards were broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 from the Royal Albert Hall in London and can be seen on BBC Four on April 9 at 22:00 BST in an hour-long highlights programme including the performances by Stewart (singing On the Border), Cooder, Bragg, Afro Celt Sound System and Daoiri Farrell.

Full honours list:

* Folk singer of the year - Kris Drever

* Best duo - Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton

* Best group - The Furrow Collective

* Best album - Songs of Separation

* Horizon Award - Daoiri Farrell

* Musician of the year - Rachel Newton

* Best original song - If Wishes Were Horses by Kris Drever

* Best traditional track - Van Diemen's Land by Daoiri Farrell

* BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award - Josie Duncan & Pablo Lafuente

* Lifetime achievement award - Al Stewart & Ry Cooder

* Hall of fame inductee (wretched word - Ed] - Woody Guthrie


Libby Esther Berman

You really have to admire a man who, winning a Lifetime Achievement award, does not make it all about himself, but his inspiration, instead. I truly admire this man.

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