Two of Scotland’s best-known musicians were awarded prestigious lifetime achievement awards last night – then insisted they had no intention of giving up performing.
Dougie Maclean, one of the nation’s best-known singer-songwriters, and Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain took centre-stage at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in Glasgow as the prestigious event was held in Scotland for the first time.
The pair insisted they were as busy and in demand as much as ever, despite both being fixtures on the music scene in Scotland for more than eight decades between them.
They were honoured alongside two of the biggest stars of the English folk scene - Billy Bragg and Roy Harper, both of whom performed on the night.
Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival enjoyed unprecedented UK-wide TV and radio coverage, with a number of Scottish acts also performing live at the event, including singer Karine Polwart and Celtic supergroup Treacherous Orchestra also performing live.
Despite a clutch of Scottish acts being nominated, acclaimed trio Lau - named best group - were the only act to win on the night, with Polwart, fiddler Duncan Chisholm and Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes among those missing out.
Both Lau and Polwart - two of the hottest tickets at Celtic Connections - lost out in the prestigious best album category to English favourites Bellowhead, who are due to appear at a sold-out gig at the festival tomorrow night.
Veteran English singer Nic Jones, who was almost killed in a car crash in 1982, but made a dramatic return to live performing three years ago, was named singer of the year.
Rising English star Emily Portman won the best original song award, while the duo Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar scooped the prestigious young folk award.
However the awards for 66-year-old Bain and 58-year-old Maclean were the highlights of the night for the sold-out audience at the Royal Concert Hall.
At the event’s climax, MacLean, a fixture on the traditional music scene in Scotland since the mid-1970s, led a mass rendition of his classic anthem Caledonia, with Eddi Reader and Barbara Dickson among his backing singers.
Aidan O’Rourke, fiddler with Lau, who described the honour as a “home win”, said: “We were all pretty gobsmacked to be honest, it was a real surprise.
“We have won before at the awards and thought it might be someone else’s turn.
“It’s great for Celtic Connections to have the event in Glasgow - it’s right for the BBC to take it around country.”
Among the presenters at the awards - which First Minister Alex Salmond attended - included Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis, actress Clare Grogan, former Catatonia frontwoman Cerys Matthews, Deacon Blue singer Ricky Ross and football pundit Pat Nevin.
Mr Salmond hailed Dougie Maclean’s contribution as a “celebrated artist, nationally and internationally.”
Maclean, who has organised his own festival in his native Dunkeld for the last decade, told The Scotsman: “I’ve had a couple of Tartan Clef Awards in the past and got an OBE a couple of years ago, which is about as good as it gets, but this is pretty cool and it is nice to be recognised like this.
“Next year will actually be my 40th year as a professional musician and troubadour. I was 20 when I joined my first band, playing the fiddle with the Tannahill Weavers and travelling all around the world with them, which was brilliant.
“I am enjoying it as much as I have ever enjoyed it and feel I am only just getting started.
“The festival I organise is getting bigger and bigger, I’m going on tour to Australia soon and am off to America a couple of times, and also I’m doing some work with the RSNO this year, including a concert at Glamis Castle.”
Bain, one of the best known musicians the Shetland Isles have produced, said he would continue performing “as long as people keep phoning me.”
He added: “I was asked to perform a while ago was told I’d be getting some kind of award, but I only really found out what it was a couple of days ago.
“I guess it’s the kind of thing you get when you are older. I don’t feel I’m slowing down at all, but just doing what I really want to do. It’s nice to get to that stage in life.
“I was thinking the other day it was 45 years since I first came to Glasgow.
“At that time, the musicians in Glasgow were very idealistic and wanted to revive Scottish musical culture, but at that time you couldn’t have filled the first couple of the rows of the concert hall with all the professional musicians and singers in Scotland. Music in Shetland was in dire straits.
“If there is an achievement in my life it is that when you look out of the concert hall stage you can see hundreds of young musicians in the audience.
“That would be our greatest achievement when you compare it to what music was like then. A country without culture is like a country without a heart.
“If you have ever told us that there would ever be a festival like Celtic Connections in Glasgow we would just have laughed. It would have seemed ridiculous.”
BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners
FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR Nic Jones
BEST DUO Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
BEST GROUP Lau
HORIZON AWARD Blair Dunlop
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR Kathryn Tickell
BEST ORIGINAL SONG Hatchlings – Emily Portman
BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK Lord Douglas – Jim Moray
BEST ALBUM Broadside - Bellowhead
BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Aly Bain
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Roy Harper
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTION TO SONGWRITING Dougie MacLean
ROOTS AWARD Billy Bragg
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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