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Non-Print Media Award 2014

— Posted on 20th November 2014

Doc Rowe

We’re very happy to announce that the winner of our inaugural Non-Print Media Award 2014 was presented to Rod Stradling for Old Fashioned Songs: Cecilia Costello; Musical Traditions [Double CD ]

Here are the judges’ comments:

This recent venture by the Folklore Society is to reward newer forms of publication on folklore and allied subjects. As this is the first year of this initiative – with little publicity – we were pleased to receive seven entries and feel this represents a respectable start and anticipate a wealth of interest for next year. We received submissions ranging from professional products from established companies to home-produced DVDs. The judges based their final decision on context and accessibility with the knowledge of which products had an overall aspiration to “share” material with a larger community. Here are the judges’ comments on the entries:

  • From Runes to Ruins: this very professionally produced film by Jamie Roper is a lengthy documentary following Tom Rowsell’s personal investigation, starting with an ancient earthen burial mound remembered from his childhood. He explores Anglo-Saxon haunted barrows and pagan shrines to the dead; seeks evidence for roots of a pagan past by consultations with neo-pagans and Viking re-enactors, and finds healing gods and ancient cultures in old chronicles.
  • Irish Folk Furniture: a DVD by Tony Donoghue produced by Radio Tellifis Eireann/Arts Council/ Mayfly films; it is a delightful oddity of stop-frame animation with voice-over comments predominantly featuring restorations of Irish dressers and furniture. Apparently “16 pieces of furniture were restored and returned home”
  • I Pray You Pay Attention, double CD, one of two entries from Musical Traditions. It has over 50 recordings made by the late Keith Summers. As with all Muscial Traditions releases, there was a substantial booklet with background to the collector and the collected.
  • Bishopsgate Voices, a CD + booklet produced by Bishopsgate Institute London, was felt to be a perfect model of production. A celebration of the lives of London’s East End through oral testimony. The recordings were made between 2007 and 2013, inspired initially by the work of Raphael Samuel. With a descriptive illustrated insert covering all the topics on the CD: Growing up…High days and Holidays … Home life … World War Two … Politics … to mention a few ]
  • The Last of Old England: DVD produced by Neil Lanham. Neil  also  disseminates otherwise uncommercial yet culturally interesting material and has personally produced a large number of recordings and videos over the years with oral testimony, songs, step dance and music from East Anglia.  With an emphasis on the vernacular oral culture of the region, he shares stories, anecdotes and music in performance to represent part of a culture that has hardly been changed by modern intervention and is still respected, supported and sustained.
  • The Barley Mow: CD and DVD, Voice of the People series, TOPIC records: Easily the highest quality of production as expected from a company celebrating its 70th year this is a welcome remastering of recordings made in Suffolk in the 1950s. With an impeccable and insightful booklet by Dr Reg Hall, a DVD is also included of ‘The Barley Mow’ filmed at the Blaxhall Ship at that time.

Although Topic are one of the few commercial record companies that sometimes  risk publishing material that others would deem unprofitable, there are still many recordings made in field conditions or early formats which would still would be difficult to produce. Musical Traditions series fills this gap, and their second entry—

  • Old Fashioned Songs: Cecilia Costello—is a double CD with an inexhaustible booklet by Rod Stradling. One of many collections under the ‘Musical Traditions’ label and features much previously unreleased material from the remarkable Birmingham singer, Cecilia Costello [1884-1976] The first CD features 89 tracks made in 1951 – recorded when Cecilia was in her seventies – and  the second has some 83 tracks of songs, sayings from 1967,1971 and 1975.  Stradling’s inclusive attitude means that snatches of old music hall songs and conversations are given, allowing a sense of repertoire that is not normally acceptable or even respected …

The fact that the TOPIC film ‘The Barley Mow’ was also issued as part of a BFI DVD compilation in 2011 and the audio recordings were also already available [albeit inferior quality] ultimately made our final decision less difficult. Not only did the panel feel that Rod Stradling truly deserves an accolade for his continued outstanding effort in discovering, organising and making available recordings that might ordinarily not be available but they unanimously felt that Old Fashioned Songs: Cecilia Costello was the outright winner.