Hall of Fame tribute for talented piper Martyn Bennett

Hall of Fame tribute for talented piper Martyn Bennett

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 Real World Records 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.

GRIT - Artworks BBC Scotland Documentary (MacTV)

GRIT - BBC Scotland (30 mins) Director - David Rea, Producer - Calum Angus Mackay
The story of Scottish musician and producer Martyn Bennett is to be the subject of a documentary to be shown on BBC Scotland as part of the Artworks series on the evening of Sunday 7th December. Martyn's life as a prodigious young musician, radical saviour of Scottish contemporary folk, and his recent struggles with cancer, the extraordinary story behind 'GRIT' his new album on Real World Records will be told against the back drop of the beautiful Isle of Mull where Martyn now lives and works.

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.

Article taken from The Scotsman by Brian Ferguson
Published on Wednesday 31 October 2012