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Copyright Nick Morgan, Kate Kavannagh and Serge Valentin

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like everything by the Malt Maniacs.
WFMA 2008 Whiskyfun Music Award Winners
by Nick Morgan, Dave Broom and the rest of the crew
Ok - here's our end-of-year Woolworth's basket full of gongs for those bands and performers who have reached the summit of the pyramid and entertained us in the course of the year. But in keeping with the spirit of the new age we've hedged our bets – we’re short selling - and have applied a minimum fifty percent discount, and strictly limited our loquacious litany of libatory, laudable, and often loxodromic logogriphs - in other words, we've cut out the crap, sort of sub prime, if you will.

Nick's Most Entertaining Performer of the Year

This award could so easily have gone to David Thomas for his outrageously funny Bring Me the Head of Ubu Roi at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in April, and for his contributions to the piratical Rogue’s Gallery gig at the Barbican.

Bobby Rush
But actually it was as the early autumn night cooled on the levees of the Mississippi in Helena, Arkansas, that our winner put in two exceptional and award-winning performances, one (almost) solo, the other with his full band, which made the by-then packed natural arena wriggle and squeal with delight. The winner is the self-styled hardest working man in show business, and the baddest man in the blues, Mr Bobby Rush.

Dave's Bonkers Event of the Year

Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paradiso UFO at the Greenhouse Effect, Hove. The band, as you know full well are one of the leading exponents of Japanese psychedelic music.. certainly one of the noisiest.. and hairiest.

What you may not realise (and why should you?) is that the Greenhouse Effect is one of Hove's smallest licensed premises. Quite why I went I know not, I could have stayed at home and opened the windows and still been deafened by the glorious sounds. As it was I was there, with the Welshman and about 50 others (it was sold out) with the band a few inches from my nose. The ears haven't quite recovered.

Nick's Best Album of the Year

By a horse’s neck this was won by the audacious, vibrant, cheeky and certainly cheerful Last Shadow Puppets, whose potage of sixties pastiche showed a maturity and knowingness way beyond the years of its creators, Arctic Monkey Alex Turner, and Rascal Miles Kane. And why I drove to Luton instead of using the ticket I had to see them at the Hammersmith Apollo remains a mystery to me too, Serge.

Last shadow
Dave's Best Album of the Year

A good year: Shadow Puppets is certainly up there, EST's Live in Hamburg, Mr Cave's...'Lazarus', Fleet Foxes, some amazing stuff from Christina Carter, Portishead's 'Third'; a bunch of great reissues [The Bachs! on vinyl! Dennis Wilson's 'Ocean Pacific Blue', Shirley Collins, early Steeleye Span]; and great compilations [a draw between African Scream Contest and Take Me To the River: A Southern Soul Story] and some wild finds when hunting for vinyl in Joburg and Tokyo [Cecil Taylor, The Churls, Shelagh McDonald, a bootleg of Neil Young's 'Tonight's the Night' tour]...but the overall winner has to be James Yorkston's 'When the Haar Rolls In' which proves that he's the best songwriter in Britain.

James Yorkston

Nick's Best Gig of the Year

Around sixty gigs in all (phew! – never again), of which four or so rated nine points or more from the panel of judges. The honourable runners-up included Nick Cave, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. But our winners, or winners, were Robert Plant and Alison Krauss for a simply sensational gig in Cardiff, supported by a hugely talented band, and of course that chapel choir of an audience.

And fancy me not noticing that the Queen was in the audience too, because today she’s made Robert Plant a Commander of the British Empire ‘for services to music’ – not bad, although on the basis of this gig I might have made him a Duke.

Dave's Gig of the Year

A close call between a truly extraordinary evening's entertainment from Eels; and Nick Cave with his Bad Seeds.. and Mr Cave wins by a moustache hair.. actually he wins because of Warren Ellis.

Nick Cave

Nick's Best New Live Act

In a year in which we’ve managed to squeeze in some pretty good new stuff (notably the Cold War Kids and Fleet Foxes) among all the old fogies this award has to go to that back-to-basics Mississippi Hill Country duo Lighting Malcolm and Cedric Burnside.

They played a memorable gig under the stars on the small stage at the Helena Blues Festival, and produced an equally good album, Two Man Wrecking Crew. As the recession bites we’re frankly going to need a bit less of the rather self-indulgent stuff turned out by bands like the Fleet Foxes, and a bit more of the sort of reality check that Cedric and Malcolm (can they be blues stars with names like these?) provide. Buy their music!

Nick's Single Most Outstanding Live Song of the Year

How many songs in sixty gigs – including Festivals? How to choose? Well, when I tell you that my spine still shivers the moment I think of this performance, as I’m sure that of everyone who was in the Barbican for the Rogue’s Gallery gig does, then it’s probably no surprise to learn that it’s Norma Waterson singing ‘Bay of Biscay’.

Norma Waterson
It’s almost impossible to describe how accomplished, and how moving, this was. Or the look of horror that formed on Teddy Thompson’s face as he realised he was going to have to follow her on stage. Tough act to follow indeed.

Dave's Song of the Year

The Earlie King, by Baby Dee. "Who could resist a 50-something transsexual bellowing "Bring me a whisky, get me a beer"?

Baby Dee

Dave's Best Moment at a Gig

Having my seven year old daughter on my shoulders as we both sang along to 'Two Heads' with the Alabama 3 in the freezing cold at the Beachdown Fest.


Serge's Best Gig Photograph of The Year

Buddy Guy
With so many to choose from, this had to be a tough call... But there aren't so many photographs where you can actually 'hear' the performer like on this beautiful one of Buddy Guy at the Sheperd's Bush Empire in London taken on June 24, 2008 by Whiskyfun's official concert photographer Kate Kavanagh!

Nick's Best Bang for Your Bucks

It could have been Rogue’s Gallery, or the Teddy Thompson ‘Thompson Family Christmas’ (what a good year young Mr Thompson has had) or maybe even the Sandy Denny tribute.

But when you have a three day free (FREE) Blues Festival that features artistes such as Pinetop Perkins, Sam Carr, Bob Margolin, Webb Wilder, Michael Burks, Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Hubert Sumlin, Cedric Burnside and Lighting Malcolm, Bobby Rush – well the list is almost endless, but the point is, this event is worth every Euro you might spend on flights, food, adult beverages and camping. And everyone is so friendly. Take my advice and ‘book’ now for 2009.

Serge’s Gig of The Year Award

This must simply go to a hero who defies age and who, at 63, jumps on stage like a kid on Red Bull (and who still doesn’t quite manage to put an end to a 12min guitar solo – or so it seems): Mr Neil Young himself, seen and heard at Colmar’s Foire aux Vins Festival 2008. Any time, any place. Runner-up: Richard Hawley and his timeless nostalgia (!) at London’s Astoria in February.

Neil Young

The whole WF crew's Non Plus Ultra Award

With a simply brilliant new album under their belt, and two awe-inspiring gigs, of which the latest was a very close contender for Gig of the Year, this award could only go to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Nick Cave
Inspired by last year’s Grinderman collaboration, they have reshaped themselves into a fiercely recession-proof outfit for 2009 – combining the rawest of rock and roll with Warren Ellis’s outlandish and percussive guitar and violin contributions, and Cave’s perennially incisive and witty lyrics. And performed live with a power that gives a totally new meaning to the phrase ‘shock and awe’. Non Plus Ultra indeed.

There's nothing more down there...