Thousands of folk fans have given the seal of approval to a Wigan band which scooped two top awards voted for by music enthusiasts.
Folk-rock eight-piece Merry Hell walked away with the best band and best live act prizes in the accolades dished out by top roots music website Folking.
Other news: Wigan folk singer's album beyond the seas is back
The community supported Merry Hell in force, with the group securing 35.6 per cent of the vote for best band and 32.1 per cent of those casting a ballot backing their high-energy live shows.
The band beat some of the best-known names in British folk and expressed their joy at being put on a par with roots music icons.
Merry Hell’s manager Damian Liptrot said: “The band is absolutely delighted. This is a not inconsiderable achievement.
“In the live act category they were up against Fairport Convention, Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band and Lau among others. Just to be nominated in that company is humbling but to win is even better.
“Merry Hell have played with Fairport Convention at a festival, they headlined and then we went on in a very late slot. I was watching the audience during their last few songs and it was amazing to see how much the band meant to people. For us to get best band ahead of a group like that is quite incredible.”
Merry Hell is preparing for yet another busy year out on the road and showcasing their efforts in the studio.
The band now exists in two forms – the full electric group and a smaller unplugged acoustic set-up – and both incarnations will be on display at The Old Courts later this month.
Damian said: “It will be an interesting experience to do two very different gigs in our hometown..”
The group is also appearing at gig venues and festivals across the country playing tracks from latest fourth album Bloodlines and their popular back catalogue,
In addition Merry Hell have once again been recording and is putting the finishing touches to its first all-acoustic album.
Titled Anthems to the Wind, the release will have a mixture of new recordings and arrangements.
For more information about the band, visit www.merryhell.co.uk