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James Findlay wins Young Folk Award 2010

James Findlay walked away with the Young Folk Award title on Friday 4th December 2009. Amongst a stunning group of finalists James' amazing voice and distinctive guitar and fiddle style stood out. Aged 20 and from Dorset he comes from a family background of traditional singers with a style inspired by Nic Jones but with a stage presence all of his own.

Jon Boden whilst announcing the judges decision noted the quality of all of the finalists and pointed out that this is a staging post for all of them on their careers and not a finishing post.

I believe the Young Folk Awards to be the most important and exciting award based event of the year. There is a buzz of innocent excitement surrounding it by contestants and grey haired folk stalwarts alike that sets it apart. I reality, all of the finalists are winners, the process of competition, workshops, encouragement and performance involved is a fast track proving ground for the talent of tomorrow.

So here are my observations on the finalists with links to find out more:

James Findlay
Singer, guitarist and fiddle player from Dorset, aged 20
'Bloody hell, what a voice!' was my first thought as he launched into his two songs. He's warmly charismatic with that sparkle of personality that draws a crowd along with him.

Niamh Boadle
Singer, song writer and guitarist from Lancashire, aged 15
Despite being one of the youngest finalists she has packed a huge amount of musical experience in already, winning the Fred Jordan Memorial Singing competition at Bromyard festival. She performs in the band Tri and was a finalist at this year's St. Alban's New Roots competition, and was in the finals last year as a soloist. No surprise she is so mature on stage then! Definitely one to watch as she has a pure voice, a highly individual guitar technique and is writing some great original material.

Mairi & Steaphanaidh Chaimbeul
Sisters aged 15 and 16 from the Isle of Syke who play clarsach, saxophone and sing
Again, what voices! They combine the excitement and authenticity that made the early Capercaillie so exciting. This duo really stood out to me, often musicians of their age are technically brilliant but lack that bit of soul that comes with experience in their playing, these girls have it in spades and I wanted to hear more of them.

Six piece group from County Derry, Northern Ireland
These guys had to start the concert off, a thankless task that they took in their stride. They follow in the footsteps of Lunasa but they definitely have their own boots on. You can judge for yourself as they have been featured on the excellent BBC Northern Ireland programme Blas Ceoil and you can watch them on the link below

The Carrivick Sisters
Duo from Devon who sing and play fiddle, mandolin, guitar and dobro. Both aged 20
Possibly the most experienced artists here s they are recording their 3rd album. they produce a delightful blend of bluegrass and folk and are already familiar faces on the folk and roots circuit.

Chris Keatinge
Button accordion player, aged 20, from the Scottish Borders
A virtuoso accordion player who was also a finalist in the 2005 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year. He also plays in Funkeilidh

More news and pics when we get them from the BBC...

Iain Hazlewood

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