for those who care, and frankly that's a pretty small demographic, my predictions for the UKs second most prestigious folk awards are as follows:
FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR
Jon Boden didn't get it for Folksong a Day last year, because it was (quite rightly) Chris Wood's night...so he has to to get it this year, no question.
Winner: June Tabor, leaving me feeling like a proper Charlie.
Tim Edey & Brendan Power
Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell
Spiers & Boden
Marry Waterson & Oliver Knight
I'd love it to be Kearny and Farrell. "So understated, they are practically not there at all" I said when they oppened for (the mighty) Bellowhead.
Winner: Tim Edey and Brendan Power. Instrumental duo. Never heard them. Clearly stunningly good. Not my kind of thing.
The Home Service
June Tabor & Oysterband
If it isn't June Tabor and the Oysterband, then something has gone seriously wrong with the world. I mean, an evening which arguably contains three of the years best performances (Seven Curses, The Bells of Rymey and Why I Hate The French, sorry, The Bonny Bunch of Roses, oh) can't not be the years best act.
Winner: June Tabor and the Oysterband. Yay!
Last – The Unthanks
Purpose & Grace – Martin Simpson
Ragged Kingdom – June Tabor & Oysterband
Saturnine – Jackie Oates
Assuming that June and Oysters can't win everything, then I'd go for Martin Simpson, although none of my favourites are on the list. Perhaps he will play you North Country Blues or Brother Can You Spare A Dime at the ceremony. (I will note, however, that everyone else likes the Unthanks a lot more than I do. Because it is clever to sing quick songs slowly.)
Winner: We assumed wrong. June Tabor and the Oysterband can, in fact, win everything.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
The Herring Girl – Bella Hardy
Last – Adrian McNally (performed by The Unthanks)
On Morecambe Bay – Kevin Littlewood (performed by Christy Moore)
The Reckoning – Steve Tilston
I think Steve Tilston ought to get it. I also think he will get it on the basis that he is a Legend.
Winner: Steve Tilston got it, but he had to share it with Bella Hardy, with whose ouevre I am not terribly familiar. I have to say the song about the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers was awfully good as well.
BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK
Bonny Bunch of Roses – June Tabor & Oysterband
Lakes of Ponchartrain – Martin Simpson
Maids When You’re Young – Lucy Ward
Sweet Lover of Mine – Emily Smith
"Oh so don't talk so venturesome / For England is a heart of oak / And England Ireland Scotland / Their Unity has ne're been broke." No brainer.
Winner: As I said, no brainer. (That's June Oyster and the Tabor's again.)
Pilgrim's Way (by Pilgrims' Way - watch the apostrophes) was one of my utter top tracks of the year, so naturally I think they ought to win. I have to say that I don't particularly know the other performers on the list, so am probably more than usually biassed.
Winner: Lucy Ward, about whom I shall not form an opinion until I have heard her play.
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Now that's a hard one to call, since everyone knows that Martin Simpson is one of the best guitarists on the planet and Andy Cutting is one of the best squeeze box men on the planet. Simpson, yeah. Because he's a nice man who sings Bob Dylan covers. I wouldn't want you to think that this was anything other than purely scientific.
Winner: Tim Edey, on the grounds we are following the Oscar principle of having one or two acts win all the awards.
BEST LIVE ACT
The Home Service
Bellowhead clearly are the best live act, but they won it last year. Might they give it to the Home Service simply to thank them for coming back into existence? Haven't heard them live in their current incarnation, but when I was doing Medieval Studies I saw the Mysteries. Twice. So I have heard Bill Caddick (fella who wrote the one about unicorns) live, even though I didn't know he was at the time. Maybe they'll sing Babylon or something. There is a real danger they'll give it to the Unthanks though. (I only heard them once. They are probably great. Everyone else thinks they are great. I like the one about the girl who works down the mine, and the clog dancing, come to that.)
Winner: Home Service, as exclusively predicted in these pages.