I’ve spent the last week trying to patch together video clips from the Brits in order to see the full panoply of the talented, and not-so-talented, featured during the awards bash.
Rosie Swash of The Guardian did a good round-up which is still available on the paper’s website. Andrew Anthony of The Observer (aka Sunday Guardian) was less charitable than Rosie, especially about the unexpected re-appearance of Sam Fox in the 30th anniversary edition of the awards. Both were clear that US talent out-shone the locals on the night – though I thought this was a bit unfair to the Florence and the Machine/Dizzee Rascal mashup and even, dare I say it, to Robbie Williams’ louche but highly enjoyable finale.
But my enduring complaint is why, in an age where the music industry is struggling to keep fans focused on legimate acquisiton of music, hasn’t it been possible to watch the entire event after broadcast, either on the ITV player or on the Brits’ own site?
Last week the inevitable finally occured my laptop died. I’d kept ignoring the warning signs but had at least taken the opportunity to get the last bits backed up before it croaked totally. However, the one thing I didn’t have backed up at home was my music. I guess this is partly because I’ve got too many tracks to make a DVD-based backup system really work and partly because I assumed all those CDs lying around in the back of the car have to be good for something. Ripping several hundred CDs is pretty unappealing though so I was very relieved to remember that I work for a wonderful start up that’s stored all my music safely in the cloud.
Finally, a chance to use the Psonar system for real – how would it cope? First up, I thought I’d try downloading a single album. I log in to Psonar and browse for an album I fancy listening to, select it and drag it into the icon representing my new laptop. I then start up SongShifter on the laptop and sit with crossed fingers. As soon as I’ve logged in it spots there’s some work to be done and immediately starts downloading the album. Ten minutes later its finished! Psonar copies the files to your usual music library location on Windows and orders them into directories ArtistName\AlbumName\
I’ve finally had a free moment to catch up on the Radio 2 Folk Awards from last week. Running my eyes down the it was hard to find the surprises. Bellowhead won Best Live Act again – I told you last year that they were awesome live and I’m sure I’ll be saying it again this year when festival season rolls round again. Their frontman Jon Boden picked up another award for Folk Singer of the year as well. Its just a shame they had to squeeze out Adrian Edmonson and the Bad Shepherds whose energetic punk-folk experience is something else entirely!
In another revelation of the blindingly obvious, they tell us that Steve Knightly can write good songs – who would have thought it! Wonder which news story of last year he might have been refering to with the winning entry for Best Original Song?
At every trough you stop to feed,
with your arrogance, ignorance and greed
you’re on your yacht, we’re on our knees
through your arrogance, ignorance and greed
Steve’s partnership with Phil Beer, Show of Hands continues to split the folk world into love ‘em or hate ‘em camps – with it being obvious which group the good chaps at Radio 2 who gave them another award for Best Duo fall in to. I have to confess to being a fan too – seen them at least once a year for about the past five years or so…
Commiserations go to the Unthanks – one of my absolute favourites – who despite three nominations came away with nothing. If you’ve not had the pleasure of listening to their vocal talents try The Testimony of Patience Kershaw. As a contrast to the modern protest song from Knightly that won the category this tale of a 19th century girl’s work in the mines is unforgetable.
Its a bit of a shame to see so many of the usual suspects win again, with Lau getting Best Group for the third year in a row. Surely there’s enough new folk talent out there for it not to be confined to the Horizon Newcomers Award – which this year went to Sam Carter who plays some wonderful fingerpicking melodies, clearly influenced by Davy Graham, Richard Thompson and Martin Simpson. The latter also picking up an award this year for Best Traditional Track for his version of Sir Patrick Spens.
If you’ve not done so yet you can still catch the live performances from the award show at the Folk Awards Website and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Everyone wants to touch their favourite artist. In the sixties, screaming fans queued for hours to lay hands on Bob Dylan, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones (see the end of this great film of Bob Dylan in concert in Newcastle in 1966). In this age of all-pervading security and paranoia about freak attacks, it’s almost impossible to get that close to celebrity artists today.
Maybe it’s blogging and especially tweeting that lets the modern fan “touch” their particular idol. I’ve been surpised how fast artists are at responding to tweets that mention them, especially if the comments are appreciative (we all like praise!). Recently I’ve had great responses from both The Red Bullets and even from Chipmunk. In both these cases, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the responses were genuine and from the artists themselves, but one can’t help but wonder whether, in this age of 24/7 media pressure, some might succumb to the temptation to let an assistant do that tweeting or blogging.
So, how can you tell whether you’re talking to the real artist? Perhaps we need a new version of the Turing Test – which the 1940s computer pioneer used to test whether people could tell if they were talking to a machine or not!