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 scotstradmusicawards.com/voting
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
Composer of the Year
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
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
Music Tutor of the Year
Venue of the Year
Sandy Bells - Forrest Hill Bar
New Cample Farm
Live Act of the Year
Fred Morrison Band
Scottish Folk Band of the Year
Rua Macmillan Trio
Paul McKenna Band
Gaelic Singer of the Year
Isobel Ann Martin
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
Roddy MacLeod MBE
Anne Lorne Gillies
Donald Riddell CBE
Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award
Services to Gaelic Music
Rory Macdonald and Calum Macdonald