Thursday, February 27, 2014
TWO Woodbury musicians have scooped a prestigious BBC folk award.
Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin – described as “one of the most inventive and captivating rising acts on the acoustic roots scene” – clinched the Best Duo title at last week’s BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Slide guitarist, dobro and harmonica player Phil – who studied at Exmouth’s Rolle College and was a mainstay of the town’s music scene for some years – says that the accolade was unexpected.
“It was a big surprise,” he said. “We were in a state of shock!”
Announcing the win live on air, Show Of Hands’ Steve Knightley highlighted the duo’s “haunting mixture” of English, Irish, Indian and Celtic textures.
“It’s taken them from busking on Sidmouth seafront to playing with us here at the Royal Albert Hall in two short years,” he said.
In turn Phil thanked Show Of Hands for their “great support, advice and friendship”, while singer-songwriter, fiddle player and banjo player Hannah thanked gig-goers and “all the folk clubs and festivals that have supported us over the years, creating such an amazing live music scene in this country – that’s why we’re here”.
Having worked together in Roots Union, Phil and Hannah teamed as a duo in 2008. Steve Knightley spotted them busking on Sidmouth seafront in 2010, asking them to support Show Of Hands.
The duo’s first album, Singing The Bones, introduced their unique sound, confirmed by last year’s Mynd album.
Phil is taking the BBC accolade – and the duo’s progress – in his stride... and with great understatement.
“Yeah, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
“Those first Show Of Hands gigs gave us the confidence to plough all our energy into this duo project. The way that we work together, the way we write together is evolving as well, so the material is going in the right direction, it’s improving with each album.
“The Mynd album was crucial for us. The reviews and media attention that it’s brought has led to the nomination and award. An important album for us, it’s great to get the recognition for it. We’ve put two years of solid work into that one.”
Phil and Hannah are barely pausing to reflect on their award, as they’re already working on their third album.
“We live in a nice spot, just outside Woodbury on the way to Exton,” said Phil.
“We’re surrounded by a couple of dairy farms, with a good view over the Exe valley. It’s very quiet, an inspiring place to write music. Hannah’s written a lot of the songs while staring out of the bedroom window.”
And if they’re not writing material, the duo are touring. They have a packed diary this year, including local shows at Exmouth Folk Club (Manor Hotel, April 29) and Exeter Folk Project (Stars Bar, June 19).
“The Exmouth show will be nice,” said Phil. “A home-coming gig.”
You can watch highlights from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ceremony tonight (Thursday February 27) from 8pm on the BBC Red Button.