THE legacy of a gifted composer and musician is in the running to win a major industry honour for the second year in a row – a decade after his death.
A lavish tribute to the music of Martyn Bennett, whose live was cut short by cancer at the age of just 33, is in contention to be named event of the year at the “Scottish traditional music Oscars,” 12 months on after a stage show inspired by his career won the same prize.
More than 75 of Scotland’s leading musicians and singers performed in the live recreation of Bennett’s final album, Grit, which was staged as the opening concert of this year’s Celtic Connections concert in Glasgow.
The TV broadcast of the sell-out show, which was masterminded by the classical violinist Greg Lawson, is already in the running for glory at next month’s Scottish BAFTAs after being shortlisted for best entertainment programme.
Its nomination for the Scots Trad Music Awards was announced today by organisers as the countdown to next month’s event got underway with confirmation of the full line-up of nominees.
Bennett was regarded as one of Scotland’s leading musical talents of the 1990s and fused dance music with traditional melodies and instruments. His last album, Grit, made when he was seriously ill, is hailed by many critics as his best work for the way he combined renditions of largely forgotten traditional songs with his own ground-breaking sound.
The one-off live show, which Lawson said was years in the making, is up against up against a 10th anniversary concert staged by the Hebridean band Skerryvore, which has inspired them to stage an annual festival in the Scotland’s “gateway to the isles,” Oban, after 6000 fans flocked there from around the world for their open-air gig in the Argyll town in May.
Bennett was honoured at last year’s ceremony in Inverness when the stage show created by theatre-maker Cora Bissett in collaboration with his friends and family, was named best event.
Performed in Glasgow and Mull, where Bennett lived in his later years, the show was commissioned as part of the cultural programme for the Commonwealth Games and feature a mix of drama, dance and acrobatics set to his music.
Bennett - born in Canada but brought up in the Highlands from the age of six by his folk singer mother Margaret - was the first traditional musician to win a coveted place at the City of Edinburgh Music School. He was also a gifted student at the RSAMD, in Glasgow, where – unknown to his tutors – he visited traditional music sessions.
He later developed an interest in electronic music and, after buying a keyboard, sampler and mixing desk, quickly began to make a name for himself as one of Scotland’s leading live performers, appearing at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
Two of Scotland’s leading young Celtic bands, Treacherous Orchestra and Rura, will battle it out in two of the most coveted categories – for best album and best live act – when the awards are held in Dundee for the first time on 5 December.
Also on 10-strong best album shortlist are the Scott Wood Band, Mike Vass, Blazin’ Fiddles, Shooglenifty, Dallahan, Siobhan Miller, the Peatbog Faeries and Lau.
Another Hebridean band, Skippinish, is up for best live act months after trying to woo global superstar Taylor Swift by recording their own version of her smash hit, Shake it Off, and asking her out with join the band for a curry in Glasgow.
Robyn Stapleton and Claire Hastings, the last two winners of the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year award, which is held at Celtic Connections each year, will compete against each other to be named singer of the year at the ceremony in the Caird Hall.
A village hall in Glassel, in Aberdeenshire, has been shortlisted for the best venue award, up against Lyth Arts Centre, in Caithness, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, in Edinburgh, and Scotland’s Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Simon Thoumire, founder of the awards, which were first held in Edinburgh in 2003, said: “We’ve got a strong and diverse list of nominees.
“It’s been an eventful year for trad music in Scotland and we have a lot to celebrate on 5 December.”
Donald Campbell, chief executive of Gaelic broadcaster MG Alba, which screens highlights of the event on BBC Alba, said: “The mix of nominees and the geographical spread across the various categories demonstrate that traditional music is alive and well throughout Scotland and we look forward very much to ‘The Trads’ taking place in Dundee for the first time.”
FULL LIST OF SCOTS TRAD MUSIC AWARDS NOMINEES
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Grind by Treacherous Orchestra
Upsurge by Scott Wood Band
In the Wake of Neil Gunn by Mike Vass
Despite The Dark by RURA
North by Blazin’ Fiddles
The Untied Knot by Shooglenifty
When the Day is on the Turn by Dallahan
Flight of Time by Siobhan Miller
Blackhouse by Peatbog Faeries
The Bell That Never Rang by Lau
CLUB OF THE YEAR
Haddington Box and Fiddle Club
Irvine Folk Club
Strathaven Folk Club
Orkney Accordion and Fiddle Club
COMPOSER OF THE YEAR
COMMUNITY PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Live Music Now Scotland
Blackford Fiddle group
Small Hall Band
EVENT OF THE YEAR
Grit, Celtic Connections opening concert
Kirriemuir Folk Fest
Skerryvore - Decade
GAELIC SINGER OF THE YEAR
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
LIVE ACT OF THE YEAR
SCOTS SINGER OF THE YEAR
DANCE BAND OF THE YEAR
The Full Scottish
FOLK BAND OF THE YEAR
Kate in the Kettle
SCOTTISH PIPE BAND OF THE YEAR
Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band
Johnstone Pipe Band
TRAD MUSIC IN THE MEDIA
Box and Fiddle Mag
Lorne MacDougall’s PlanetPipe
Brian Miller, Diamond Folk
Port, BBC ALBA
MUSIC TUTOR OF THE YEAR
UP-AND-COMING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Gráinne Brady & Tina Jordan Rees
League of Highland Gentlemen
VENUE OF THE YEAR
Scottish Storytelling Centre
Lyth Arts Centre
SEALL at Sabhal Mor Ostaig