Stage set for Folk Festival

With just over a week to go until the 24th Stonehaven Folk Festival the committee are busy crossing I’s and dotting T’s to make sure this will be another great year of music and fun.

The Festival’s artistic director Isla Duncan said – “each year we listen to feedback from the audience and try to improve things over the weekend. This year we think we have something for everyone.”

The festival kicks off on Thursday 5th July at 8.30pm with a session in the Upper Town Hall led by local ceilidh band Cabrach. This was a great success last year and a great chance to catch up with old friends, play or listen to some songs and tunes and generally get in the mood for the weekend ahead.

The Friday night Concert Ceildh in the Town Hall is always popular and this year features a varied line up of singers and musicians. The concert will feature the Barbara Dymock Band, Sinsheen, Blyde Lasses and the duo Kydd/Wilkins. A diverse range of musical styles and repertoires with a common theme, as the various band members swap places on the stage to create each line up. The ceilidh dance will be led by the Aberdeen based band Danse McCabre, a very popular all female line up with a great stage presence and lots of energy. MC for the evening will be Frank Robb, well known singer songwriter and raconteur.

Saturday starts with a come and try workshop in the Lower Town Hall – ever wondered what it would be like to play a tin whistle, hold a fiddle and bow, play a Bodhrán? Join tutors from the Scottish Culture and Traditions group for an informal hands on workshop.

At lunchtime the ever popular Plainstones concert starts with a mix of local and guest artist providing the entertainment. Meanwhile there is a slow session for newer and less experienced musicians to join in playing tunes at a moderate pace. In the afternoon is the popular afternoon singaround hosted by Arthur Johnstone and Danny Couper as well as more workshops and sessions throughout the day. In the afternoon there is the World Paper’n’Comb Championships – this year with a sixties theme, fancy dress optional.

The Saturday evening concert features a contrast of some of the newest young musicians with the North East Folk Collective and Thalla (featuring Cameron Ross on Fiddle) and two very well established names Brian McNeill and the Old Blind Dogs. Brian was a founder member of the Battlefiled Band and is a popular songwriter and multi instrumentalist. The Old Blind Dogs have had a few changes in their line up since they last played the Festival but they are back as good as ever to get the audience up and dancing.

Sunday starts off with the Aqua Ceilidh at 11am at the Open Air Swimming pool. This year the music is being provided by The North East Folk Collective Big Ceilidh Band. So come along for another ‘Splashing White Sergeant’! The Cowie Family Fun Day will take place at the Putting Green at 1pm with the Chorus Cup at 3:30pm in the Belvedere Hotel, hosted by Liz Clark and Isla Duncan.

The Tradition Bearers concert, hosted by Geordie Murison on Sunday afternoon in St Bridgets Hall, has wide range of interest with four quite different singers. Orcadian songs by Sarah Jane Gibbon, traditional Irish songs from Len Graham, popular Scots songs from Anne Nielson and Native Aberdeenshire singer of bothy ballads and muckle sangs Jock Duncan, regarded by some as a national treasure.

The weekend draws to a close with the Farewell Concert in the Town Hall featuring BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the year Rona Wilkie, the Paul McKenna Band and the Fred Morrison trio. Rona is a fiddle player and singer, accompanied by Marit Fält. The Paul McKenna Band were nominated as Scots Folk Band of the year in 2011 and offer a contemporary approach to songs with their fresh and innovative arrangements. The Fred Morrison Trio are an absolute powerhouse of sound – Fred is a multi award winning Piper/Whistle player and composer, Martin O’Neil has played Bodhrán with many leading folk musicians and toured with Stevie Wonder, the whole sound underpinned by Matheu Watson on Guitar. A great way to end the weekend on what is guaranteed to be a high note.

The festival runs over the weekend of the 5-8th July, for more information about the Festival please visit the Stonehaven Folk Festival web site Tickets are available from Celtic Chords in Stonehaven or by calling the ticket ‘phone 07766 581596 or visiting