Awards for people behind the scenes as well as for those in the public eye, are rare in any industry. The main sponsors, MG ALBA, who filmed the Hands Up For Trad Awards, are to be congratulated for focussing, at least in part, on the community groups, tutors and venues without whom the current renaissance of traditional music would falter.
The ceremony and stellar line up concert at DG One in Dumfries also illustrated what a broad church lies under the sometimes misleading banner of ‘traditional music’. Evocative Gaelic and Scots song, stirring piping through to the heaviest of Celtic rock – all played their part in an inclusive tribute concert.
Performances interspersed the awards, the crowd being entertained by piper Fred Morrison, Deaf Shepherd, The Treacherous Orchestra (bottom) and Skipinnish amongst others. The event was recognition to those who have played and are playing their part in bringing together all those who have a respect and admiration for the past, yet appreciate that traditional music is vibrant, alive, adaptable and changing.
For up and coming musicians, as well as established acts, a win at these awards has historically given an enormous boost to careers, gig bookings and CD sales. It’s hardly surprising then that over a thousand industry people and a good handful of vociferous supporters, attended this showcase event.
Gaelic singer, Christine Primrose and Scots singer ,Shona Donaldson (left) picked up the singing categories; Instrumentalist of the Year went to fiddler Lauren MacColl (top) and Composer of the Year to Mairearad Green. The ever popular Fiddlers’ Bid won Album of the Year for their ‘All Dressed in Yellow’ CD.
The young band Bodega, who met at Plockton Centre of Excellence, won Folk Band of the year, with the Paul McKenna Band scooping the Up and Coming Category. Live Act of the Year went to Lau, a key trio of innovative exponents of modern traditional music – Kris Drever (guitar and vocal), Martin Green (piano accordion) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle).
The biggest standing ovation of the night was for Robbie Shepherd the presenter of BBC’s Reel Blend, given the Media Award. Whilst the deserved ovation was in respect of the enormous impact he has had on the popularity of traditional music over 30 years, many of the votes cast must also have been in protest at the BBC’s decision to axe the programme and cut radio coverage of Scottish music.
The best summary of the night I heard was outside during an interval smoking break. (Whatever the political incorrectness, I still think us smokers have the best social life – albeit a cold one.) Neil told me he had never been to a traditional music event, but was brought up listening to Harry Lauder and Andy Stewart’s White Heather Club:
‘I guess there was nothing wrong with them. My parents liked them so on principle, I didn’t. What was magic about tonight is how exciting and varied modern traditional music is. I’ll certainly be back for next year, and maybe catch Celtic Connections in the meantime.’
A full list of the winners in all the categories – as well as the names of those inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ – is at the Hands Up For Trad website.
Mark Morporgo, Folk & Traditional Music Editor
The photographs above are by copyright holder, Louis de Carlo.