Folk Festival goes Swimmingly

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES
The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Photo’s Andy Thompson

The ticket fairy at Stonehaven Folk Festival dropped the hotline in the toilet on Friday morning!

Aqua Ceilidh at the Open Air Pool. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Aqua Ceilidh at the Open Air Pool. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

But, thankfully, it was the only disaster in what proved to be the best event in its 27 year history.

For the first time ever, all of the tickets for the main concerts were sold out three weeks in advance.

So the ticket fairy’s disaster was not the end of the world as the festival, in the words of chairman Charlie West, went “swimmingly”.

“It was a great festival,” he said. “It’s the first time we sold out fully weeks before the actual event.

Aqua Ceilidh at the Open Air Pool. 'The Gaorsach Rapper dancers in action. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Aqua Ceilidh at the Open Air Pool. 'The Gaorsach Rapper dancers in action. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

“We had a very strong line up and the north east night, featuring acts from all over the north east of Scotland, was a big hit.

“The highlight for me though was the Canadian folk band Le Vent du Nord; they usually only play the likes of Celtic Connections so to have them playing at the Town Hall was a bit of a coup for us.

“And the fact that they got three encores and a standing ovation, from a north east audience, speaks volumes to how well they went down with the crowd!”

The Sunday night headliners Treacherous Orchestra brought the festival bang up to date and arguably introduced a younger audience to the joy of folk music.

Ukulele instructor John Coletta gives some tips to Megan Macmillan at one of the workshops. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Ukulele instructor John Coletta gives some tips to Megan Macmillan at one of the workshops. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Charlie (61) said: “They’re quite a modern folk band – it let the audience see what young people are doing with folk music.

“They play a lot of intricate tunes which are a wee bit different from the traditional jigs and reels. But they went down a storm too!”

Of course, the folk festival wouldn’t be complete now without its fun side – and there was plenty of that during the four day event.

Only in Stonehaven would be an apt way to describe the aqua ceilidh, featuring the Splashing White Sergeant and Drip the Willow in the town’s open air pool.

Emma Swanson and dad Neil pictured at the ukulele workshop. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Emma Swanson and dad Neil pictured at the ukulele workshop. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

And, of course, the World Paper and Comb Championships, which aim to safeguard the instrument’s use for future generations, is also uniquely Stonehaven.

“The paper and comb used to be played in every home,” said Charlie. “But we noticed it was sadly in decline so we organised the championships to ensure its survival and revival.”

Arguably, though, the talk of the steamie at this year’s festival was an unfortunate accident with the telephone hotline.

Taking up the story, Charlie said: “I got a call from the lady who mans all our telephone ticket sales on Friday morning.

“She was almost in tears as she told me that she’d dropped the phone down the loo!

“So most of the weekend the hotline wasn’t working – but there was little we could do about it.

Nicolas Boulerice and his Hurdy-Gurdy had visitors fascinated at his workshop.  ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Nicolas Boulerice and his Hurdy-Gurdy had visitors fascinated at his workshop. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

“Everyone, of course, heard about it so we ended up having a very embarrassed ticket fairy – it was the joke of the festival!

“It really wasn’t the end of the world because most of the tickets had been snapped up. But we are expecting to get a few frustrated calls from people who couldn’t get through. All we can do is apologise – accidents happen.”

Happily, the rest of the festival, according to its chairman, went swimmingly well, attracting around 2000 visitors from as far afield as America, Canada, Germany, Denmark and Norawy.

And, after a year of planning and hard work, there are lots of people to thank for the event’s success.

Charlie added: “I’d like to thank all the local businesses and Creative Scotland for their continued support. Thanks also to Dunnottar Castle for sponsoring the Friday night concert this year.

“But my biggest thanks goes to our ten strong committee and army of 90 volunteers, who rolled up their sleeves to ensure the festival was a success.

“We really couldn’t pull off 60 events over the four days of the festival without their hard work, which is greatly appreciated.”

Planning is already underway for next year’s festival and Charlie has his eye on headliners already – so watch this space!

* To view all of the festival pictures, view our slideshow at www.mearnsleader.co.uk.

Cameron Ross Band. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Cameron Ross Band. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

North East Folk Collective. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

North East Folk Collective. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The World Paper and Comb Championship. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES