Monday, 27 February 2012

Feast Of Fiddles spring tour 2012

England’s most dynamic fiddle line-up are tuning up to hit the road again in April for their 19th consecutive annual tour - fielding some of the most legendary names in folk, and a new addition.

The flamboyant Feast of Fiddles marked their “coming of age” last year and their spring tours, which take in the Easter holidays, have become a fixture on the folk calendar.

Feast Of Fiddles

The celebrated 11-piece collective combines the talents of some of Britain’s top fiddlers in a flourish of fretwork, including Fairport Convention’s Chris Leslie, Steeleye Span/Gigspanner's Peter Knight, Bully Wee Band’s Ian Cutler and ex-Battlefield Band’s Brian McNeill joining forces with Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) and Tom Leary (John B Spencer Trio/Albion Morris).

The fiddlers' sizzling “backing band” is led by band founder Hugh Crabtree on accordion and iconic folk-rock drummer Dave Mattacks, who has played with Fairport, Steeleye and Richard Thompson as well as the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John and Chris Rea. Also in the engine room are John Underwood and Martin Vincent on acoustic and electric guitars and Dave Harding on bass.

Alan Whetton

Bringing the sound of sax and keyboards to the Feast of Fiddles mix for the first time, will be "new kid on the block" Alan Whetton, who has played with everyone from Dexy’s Midnight Runners to Pete Waterman, The Manfreds to Vin Garbutt, Shakin’ Stevens to Cliff Richard.

The 14-night 2012 Feast of Fiddles tour will open with a traditional two nights at Oxfordshire’s Nettlebed Folk Club on April 2 and 3 (the first date is already sold out) and continue until April 15, with gigs from Exeter’s Corn Exchange on Good Friday to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre on Easter Sunday.

APRIL 2012 

Mon 2nd - Nettlebed Village Club - 01628 636620 - (sold out)
Tues 3rd - Nettlebed Village Club - 01628 636620 -
Weds 4th - The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury - 01684 295074 -
Thurs 5th - Town Hall, Marlborough - 01672 512465 -
Fri 6th - Corn Exchange, Exeter - 01392 665866 -
Sat 7th - Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd - 08000 147111 -
Sun 8th - Blackpool, Grand Theatre - 01253 290190 -
Mon 9th - Leeds, City Varieties - 0113 243 0808 -
Tues 10th - Alnwick, The Playhouse - 01665 510785 -
Weds 11th - Lichfield, Guildhall - 01543 262223 -
Thurs 12th - Milton Keynes, The Stables - 01908 280800 -
Fri 13th - Worcester, Huntington Hall - 01905 611427 -
Sat 14th - Lowdham Village Hall, Notts - 01159 663596 -
Sun 15th - The Brook Theatre, Chatham - 01634 241108 -

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Naming names...

I don't want to keep banging on about why it's important to identify the judges in any awards ceremony that wants to be taken seriously (I've gone into it in great detail in past posts) but here's a very interesting development which holds out some hope for a brighter, more open approach to judging the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (R2FA).

One of the reasons given for not identifying the R2FA judges was that it would "expose them (the judges) to lobbying or intimidation". Mike Harding claimed that this was the reason that some other awards did not identify their judges either. He specifically named the Sony Radio Academy Awards as one such.

That was on November 24th 2011.  On December 9th 2011, it was announced that the 2012 Sony Radio Academy Awards were to be produced by Smooth Operations ... the commercial production company behind both Mike Harding's Radio 2 show and the R2FAs. It has now been announced that the Sony judges are being identified - in fact, you can see their names, photos and biographies on the Sony Radio Academy Awards website.

The Sony Radio Academy Awards website
Well well ... what a coincidence! 

Sony further state: "...we take the business of judging seriously, carefully selecting and balancing each panel and doing all that we can to ensure as robust and transparent a process as possible."

Quite right. This is all we have ever asked of the R2FAs. It's also what the BBC's own editorial guidelines on running awards ceremonies call for ("Criteria for judging or nominations must be transparent, clear, fair and consistent") – so why all that stuff and nonsense about "intimidation" or "lobbying"?

Janet Ellis is a Sony judge. Anyone feeling intimidated yet?
After all, lobbying (aka allowing judges to hear all relevant music) is perfectly normal in awards. It happens all the time at such events as the Oscars. It probably happens at the R2FAs, too - but only by those people who know who the judges are, and that's one of the reasons why keeping identities secret is wrong.

Intimidation is another matter, of course. It's completely out of bounds. It's also illegal - so, if it happens, call the police.

Now that Smooth Operations - via the Sonys - have at long last acknowledged (or been shown) that identifying judges is vital 'to ensure as robust and transparent a process as possible', it would be inconceivable that they would do anything less for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards next year. Right? 

We await further developments...