Scots Trad Music Awards: ‘Hall of fame’ tribute for talented piper Martyn Bennett

Celebrated piper Martyn Bennett
Celebrated piper Martyn Bennett
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A PIONEERING piper whose life was cut short at the age of just 33 is to be inuagurated into Scotland’s flagship music “hall of fame” seven years after his death.

The music of Martyn Bennett, who famously used Edinburgh’s club culture to inspire his groundbreaking music, paved the way for a whole new generation of bands since he broke into the music scene in the mid-1990s.

Now he is to be honoured as part of the Scots Trad Music Awards in Fort William in December.

The event, being held over two nights in the West Highland town, will be screened live on BBC Alba for the first time as the event marks its 10th anniversary. Bennett, whose family moved from Canada to the Highlands when he was just six, attended Edinburgh’s specialist music school at Broughton High and won a place at the RSAMD in Glasgow to study violin and piano. But as he began experimenting with electronic music while studying in Glasgow and released his debut album a year after graduating.

As he developed a growing following, Bennett performed at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, the Braveheart film premiere party, the opening of the Scottish Parliament and the World Cup finals in Paris at the height of his fame.

Bennett had a long battle with cancer, dating back to his student days. He underwent major surgery and exhausting chemotherapy, while making his final album, Grit, for Peter Gabriel’s record label while living on Mull.

Among the acts who cite Bennett as major influences are the likes of Treacherous Orchestra and Niteworks, both of whom are in the running for major awards at this year’s awards.

The Treacherous Orchestra will be competing with Kathleen MacInnes, Rachel Newton and Karine Polwart for the prestigious best album honour.

Niteworks are in the running for best “up and coming artist” along with Alistair Ogilvy, Rona Wilkie and Brandon McPhee.

A tribute night to Gerry Rafferty at Celtic Connections is in the running for event of the year, while contenders for the hotly-contested venue of the year category include An Tobar, on the Isle of Mull, Bogbairn Farm, near Inverness, Sandy Bell’s bar in Edinburgh city centre and New Cample Farm, in Dumfriesshire.

Special honours will also be given to Runrig duo Rory and Calum Macdonald, while Isobel Mieras, long-time lynchpin of the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

Bennett is one of nine inductees into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, although the majority of the awards are decided via a public poll and an expert industry panel.

Simon Thoumire, founder of the awards, which will feature special performances from Treacherous Orchestra, Karine Polwart, Man’s Ruin and the Gordon Duncan Experience this year, said: “We were always keen to have television coverage right from the first year, but I couldn’t have imagined how the event has grown over the last 10 years.

“We get around 100,000 people voting online every year, although we’re going to be going a bit Strictly Come Dancing this year by using the panel’s votes to help decide who the winners are, along with the public.

“Traditional music still thrives in Scotland - from festivals and events to bands, pipers, singers and even record labels, there are thousands of people around the country that continue to make the scene grow.”

Fans can vote for their favourites from today on the website

Full shortlist for this year’s MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards:

Album of the Year

Karine Polwart - Traces

Kathleen MacInnes - Cille Bhride (Kilbride)

Treacherous Orchestra - Origins

Rachel Newton - The Shadow Side

Instrumentalist of the Year

Duncan Chisholm

Ross Ainslie

Megan Henderson

Lorne MacDougall

Composer of the Year

Simon Bradley

Mike Vass

Paul Anderson

Laura-Beth Salter

Event of the Year

Scots Fiddle Festival

Stonehaven Folk Festival

Feis na Mara

Gerry Rafferty at Celtic Connections

Up and Coming Artist of the Year

Brandon McPhee

Alistair Ogilvy

Rona Wilkie


Trad Music in the Media

Paddy Bort (full name) - Life and legacy of Hamish Henderson and the Scottish Folk Revival

Gary West - Voicing Scotland

Julie Fowlis (for Brave)

Na Caimbeulaich documentary – (Bees Nees / BBC Alba)

Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year

Scott Murray

Paul McKenna

Christine Kydd

Alasdair Roberts

Music Tutor of the Year

Sharon Hassan

Scott Murray

Gillian Frame

Lynsey Tait

Venue of the Year

An Tobar

Bogbain Farm

Sandy Bells - Forrest Hill Bar

New Cample Farm

Live Act of the Year

Kris Drever

The Shee

Fred Morrison Band

Session A9

Scottish Folk Band of the Year



Rua Macmillan Trio

Paul McKenna Band

Gaelic Singer of the Year

Isobel Ann Martin

Riona Whyte

Gillie Mackenzie

Fiona J Mackenzie

Community Project of the Year

Tiree Music Festival

Scots Music Group Inspire Project

Feis Rois Local and National Ceilidh Trail 2012

Glasgow Irish Minstrels Branch of Comhaltas

Scottish Dance Band of the Year

Deoch and Dorus

Monach Isle Ceilidh Band

Charlie Kirkpatrick Scottish Dance Band

Graeme Mitchell Scottish Dance Band

Pipe Band of the Year

Denny and Dunipace Gleneagles Pipe Band

Coalburn IOR Pipe Band

ScottishPower Pipe Band

George Watson’s College Pipe and Drums

Club of the Year

Balerno Folk Club

Falkirk Folk Club

Highland Accordion & Fiddle Club

Aberdeen Folk Club

2012 Special Awards (not for voting)

Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame


Silly Wizard

Ian Hardie

Jim Halcrow

Roddy MacLeod MBE

Norman MacLean

Anne Lorne Gillies

Martyn Bennett

Donald Riddell CBE

Hamish Imlach

Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award

Isobel Mieras

Services to Gaelic Music

Rory Macdonald and Calum Macdonald