Aug 232013

Dogstar Theatre’s new production, The Baroness,  starring Roberta Taylor and directed by Matthew Zajac, is opening on Stornoway at the end of the month. As part of the Scottish tour the production will be performing at Alford, Findhorn and Gordonstoun School. With thanks to Liz Smith.

Roberta Taylor as Karen Blixen in The Baroness.

Roberta Taylor as Karen Blixen in The Baroness.

Dogstar’s autumn production, the UK premiere of The Baroness by Thor Bjorn Krebs, translated by Kim Dambaek, opens at An Lanntair, Stornoway, on Saturday 31 August following a preview on Friday 30 August.

The tour finishes at the Traverse, Edinburgh, on Saturday 28 September.

Roberta Taylor, one of Britain’s most talented actresses plays The
Baroness, and is joined by Ewan Donald as Thorkild Bjørnvig and Romana  Abercromby as Benedicte Jensen.

The play is directed by Dogstar’s Co-Artistic Director Matthew Zajac with music composed by Aidan O’Rourke.

In 1948, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) the celebrated writer of Out of Africa, was 62 when she met the recently married and successful 29 year young poet and writer Thorkild Bjørnvig. The two shared a powerful and intimate friendship, their pact, which lasted 6 years, before falling apart.

The play charts the course of this relationship and also the relationship of a third character, Benedicte Jensen, to Bjornvig and Blixen.  Benedicte was the wife of Bjornvig’s patron and publisher.

The Baroness premiered to rave reviews at the Folketeatret in Copenhagen in 2011 and was nominated as play of the year in the 2012 Danish Theatre Awards. Full of tension and poetry, with three tremendous acting roles, the play is inspired by anecdotes, letters and books by and about both Blixen and Bjørnvig.

Roberta Taylor is best known for her long-running roles in Eastenders and The Bill.  She is also a best-selling author with her memoir, Too Many Mothers having sold over quarter of a million copies.  Roberta was a leading member of Glasgow Citizens Theatre for 20 years under Giles Havergal, Philip Prowse and Robert David MacDonald.

Aidan O’Rourke, is one of Scotland’s most exciting composers and musicians and a member of the amazing trio LAU, three times winner of the BBC2 Folk Awards Band of the Year. Recently Ewan Donald toured Scotland with Right Lines’ production of Be Silent or Be Killed.

The production has been designed by Catherine Deverell with lighting design by Kate Bonney. Supported by the Hugh Fraser Foundation

Listings Information

An Lanntair, Stornoway
Friday 30 & Saturday 31 August 8.00pm
Box Office 01851 708480
Preview Friday 30 8.00pm

Strathpeffer Pavilion
Tuesday 3 September 8.00pm
June’s Card Shop Dingwall & Pavilion 01947 420124 & 0844 771000

Macphail Theatre, Mill Street. Ullapool
Wednesday 4 September 7.30pm
Box Office 01854 613336

Lyth Arts Centre
Thursday 5 September 8.00pm
Tickets: 01955 641434

Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute
Saturday 7 September 7.30pm
Doors open 7.00pm
Tickets 01700 503877

Tower Mill, Heart of Hawick
Tuesday 10 September 7.30pm
Box Office 01450 360688 

CatStrand, New Galloway
Wednesday 11 September 7.30pm
Box Office 01644 420374 

The Buccleuch Centre, Langholm
Thursday 12 September 7.30pm
Box Office 013873 81196

Birnam Arts
Friday 13 September 8.00pm
Box Office 01350 727674

Tullynessle & Forbes Hall by Alford
Saturday 14 September 7.30pm
Tickets: Alford Bistro 019755 63154

Resolis Memorial Hall
Tuesday 17 September 8.00pm
Tickets 01381 610204

Universal Hall, Findhorn
Wednesday 18 September 7.30pm
Tickets: Phoenix Stores 01309 690110

Ogstoun Theatre, Gordonstoun School
Thursday 19 June 8.00pm

Eden Court, Inverness
Friday 20 & Saturday 21 September
Box Office 01463 234234

Druimfin, Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Tuesday 24 September 7.30pm
Box Office 01688 302828

Craignish Village Hall, Ardfern
Wednesday 25 September 7.30pm
Tickets 01852 500746

Eastgate Theate, Peebles
Thursday 26 September 7.30pm
Box Office 01721 725777

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Friday 27 & Saturday 28 September, 7.30pm
Cambridge Street, Edinburgh EH1 2ED
Box Office 0131 228 1404

Apr 182013

It’s a rare thing – a collision of worlds that makes complete sense.  The legendary Patrick Duff plays the legendary Blue Lamp on Sunday 28th April. Add local singer Craig John Davidson, poets Eddie Gibbons and Gerard Rochford and that collision promises to be a stunning spectacle glowing with talent. Esther Green tells us more.

Patrick Duff was the singer of Bristol band Strangelove, a group that spanned the ‘90s and were never quite like anyone else. They toured with Radiohead and supported Suede in Aberdeen’s Music Hall, on that occasion outshining the main feature.
Their accomplished musicianship and the ferocious star quality of their singer/lyricist Patrick shone brightly, but burned out months after their third album release in 1998.

This month, Patrick Duff makes his return to Aberdeen, a very different artist yet still not quite like anyone else.  He revisits the city a lone poet enriched by his varied life and musical experiences and one who describes his tales with eloquence, warmth and passion.

It is less a musical journey and more of an evolution that he has made over the last decade. His work with other artists such as WOMAD musician Madosini has had a profound influence on his craft and he approaches his live performances with openness and heartfelt honesty.

With two albums behind him – 2005’s Luxury Problems and The Mad Straight Road in 2010 – and newly returned from a tour of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, Patrick has built up a steadily growing following through playing live, weaving storytelling and sometimes Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan covers into his shows.

As Patrick says on his website,

“The end of last year into the beginning of 2013 has been full of all sorts of exciting musical journeys and recordings.” 

We look forward to his exciting return journey to Aberdeen.

Patrick Duff hopes to return to play in Scotland later in the year.  His new album Visions of the Underworld is due for release soon.

  • For an archive of Patrick’s stories, go to:

  • On Facebook:

  • For information and news, go to:

  • Brand new videos on vimeo

Hail Holy Mother:
Henry James:

  • Other dates so far:

ISLAND OF ERRIAD- Mon 22-24 April
INVERNESS – The Bothy (third floor of Hootenanay) – Thurs 25 April

  • Concert review from Arnos Vale (04.02.12):

  • Two-part interview  –

Part one (2011):
Part two (2012):

May 312012

When you count ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris as a fan, it’s safe to assume there’s something very interesting happening, Loudon Temple tells Voice, as Hillfolk Noir prepare to storm the Gallowgate.

The former Old Grey Whistle Test figurehead and BBC Radio 2 presenter nailed his colours firmly to the mast when he discovered Hillfolk Noir earlier this year and went on to play tracks from the band’s ninth album, Radio Hour, over and over.
But Bob went one step further and told listeners to his show that he couldn’t wait for the four-piece from Boise, Idaho to arrive here for their first ever UK tour.

‘They’re amazing’, he said, ‘And I can’t wait to see them onstage.’

He’s not alone, as an army of UK fans have been urging the band to tour here ever since their last album, Skinny Mammy’s Revenge, was released to widespread acclaim.

They are one of the hardest-working bands on the US roots music circuit and have built themselves a huge Stateside following playing what has been described as music ‘filtered through a country-tinged, swampy-swingin’, hillbilly-delta-blues-ragtime word machine’.

Hillfolk Noir were widely recognised as one of the outstanding highlights at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas and Skinny Mammy’s Revenge established them as a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the Atlantic.

Americana UK writer Paul Kerr told readers it was ‘a delight’, and added:

‘Hillfolk Noir manage to capture the essence of American music in spades.’

Hillfolk Noir arrive in the UK with a brand new CD that’s been winning them even more praise. But which venue will Bob Harris favour with his company?

Band leader and main songwriter Travis Ward said:

 ‘Yes, of course, it’s completely and utterly amazing to have someone like Bob Harris on your side. But, the reaction from the UK press in general terms has been very encouraging and we are pretty excited to be embarking on our first ever tour here.

‘We basically make the music for ourselves because we love it; we are having a great time and hopefully that is infectious. We sing and play our guts out – every song. 

‘It’s particularly great to be playing The Blue Lamp as we’ve heard from our good friends, The Wiyos and Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three, that they always had a great time there with an audience that likes its old-time Americana, and particularly when it has a quirky rather than straight-down-the-middle edge to it.

“Sounds like they get in party mood and that suits us fine!’

Others have commented:

‘It’s a swampy, bluesgrassy, gospel-tinged, Depression-era prayer meeting medicine show of warped ragtime delta hillbilly blues/folk/country…or something like that’.  Nick Churchill, FATEA magazine

‘One of the most incredible bands’.  Seattle Weekly

‘This is roots music with attitude’.  R2 (Rock ‘n’ Reel)

 ‘Extraordinary 21st century old-time music’.   American roots UK

Hillfolk Noir Scottish dates:

Birnam Arts, BIRNAM, by Dunkeld.
Memorial Institute, MONIAIVE.
The Old Library, KILBARCHAN.
Douglas Robertson’s Studio, EDINBURGH.
Woodlands Hotel, BROUGHTY FERRY.
The Blue Lamp,ABERDEEN.
Eden Court Theatre, INVERNESS.
The Catstrand Arts Centre, NEW GALLOWAY.
Stereo, GLASGOW.
Eastgate Theatre, PEEBLES.
Acoustic Music Club, KIRKCALDY.
Mar 092012

Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) is the premier sporting facility in the North East.  ASV is running a project from 26th April as part of the London 2012 Inspire Programe.   The Inspire programme provides an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the London 2012 Games – a broad participation programme. New opportunities are being created to inspire young people and encourage the whole of the UK to join in. With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

ASV’s World Sports Tour, a series of sports taster sessions for children, recently celebrated success, receiving the award of the London 2012 Inspire Mark by former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World champion triple jumper Jonathan Edwards. Bookings are now being taken for the programme of sports activities.

ASV’s World Sports Tour offers children the chance to take part in 12 taster sessions of 12 different Paralympic and Olympic sports in the 12 weeks leading up to the arrival of the Cameroon Olympic Team in Aberdeen for their Pre-Games Training Camp (PGTC).

During the programme, the children will also discover fun facts about the events at the London Games and about athletes from different countries. At the end of each session, parents will be issued with contact details for local clubs where the children can continue to take part in the sports they enjoyed the most. The programme concludes with the Hydrasun Mini-Olympics on the 12th July, where the children will have the opportunity to meet some of the Cameroon athletes.

The programme aims to raise awareness of the Olympic Games, get the city excited about the arrival of the Cameroon team, increase the number of children participating in sport, and raise subscription numbers in established sports clubs across the city.

Additionally, the project forms the first phase of Aberdeen Sports Village & RGU: SPORT’s PGTC Community Programme through the use of local coaches and volunteers to deliver the activities. The Community Programme is set to raise the profile of the London Olympics and the Cameroon Team’s visit, and inspire the people of the North East.

Jan Griffiths, Sports Development Manager at Aberdeen Sports Village said:

 “We are delighted to have been awarded the Inspire Mark for ASV’s World Sports Tour. We’re confident that the programme of activities will be inspirational to local children and, through the signposting element of the project, will provide existing children’s sports clubs across the city with a wealth of new talented and ambitious athletes.”

ASV’s World Sports Tour is open to children from P4 to S2 of all abilities, and takes place at Aberdeen Sports Village on Thursdays from 4pm to 5pm, starting on 26th April. Each session only costs £2 and spaces are limited, so advanced booking is essential. Spaces can be booked by calling 01224 438 900 or visiting Aberdeen Sports Village.

More details about ASV’s World Sports Tour can be found on

Contact Details:

Kenny Gunnyeon,
Business Development Manager
Tel: 01224 438 918

Oct 212011

Joshua Upton reports on a special tour run by Aberdeen against Austerity.

Scandalous! Outrageous! Unbelievable!

Just some of the cries that shook Aberdeen on Saturday, the day of Global Revolution.

Well, when I say shook, I mean lightly rattled. And when I say the whole of Aberdeen, I mean the staff of Topshop Union Street Branch.

But while not the PR coup Aberdeen Against Austerity may have been hoping for, their actions on Saturday 15th October certainly turned a large number of heads. Well, when I say a large number…

Back to the beginning. While cars burn, banks are attacked and protests bring hundreds of entire cities to a halt in 82 countries world wide, Apathetic Aberdeen had its own version of the Global Revolution – A guided tour of Union Street.

‘A guided tour of Union Street?’ I hear you say, ‘Hardly worth mention’. Ah, but this was a special tour, run by those rabble-rousers at Aberdeen Against Austerity. Instead of showing the hidden beauty of Aberdeen, the Scoundrels and Scallywags tour of Aberdeen was dedicated to revealing the underbelly of corporate Aberdeen, and aimed to highlight tax avoidance and other nefarious deeds by Aberdeen’s financial elite.

The tour began outside the St. Nicholas centre, with the initial target on the hit list being M & S.

Yes, M & S. The true good food we all know and love is not as good as we thought. A whole 19.08% of companies owned by the Marks and Spencer Group are located in tax havens.

What’s more, workers in an Indian Marks and Spencer Group factory were getting paid as little a 26p per hour to make M & S clothes in 2010, well below international standards. This opening salvo of information turned a few heads outside, and some stopped to listen to the tour, however most people’s attention was soaked up by the band playing a few metres away.

This leg of the tour caused a bit of a fuss, with the tour being expelled from the building and the police being called

Stop number two was an obvious one to say the least, Topshop. It is part of the Arcadia Group, which also owns Topman, BHS, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, to name but a few. The Group is run and administered by CEO Sir Philip Green, but is owned by his wife and sole shareholder, Tina Green.

As Tina is a resident of Monaco, Tina and Philip are able to minimize UK tax through this tax avoidance scheme. This leg of the tour caused a bit of a fuss, with the tour being expelled from the building and the police being called, but we’ll get to that later.

Crossing back across the street, the tour arrived at RBS Union Street Branch.

The Taxpayer’s generous donation of 24 billion to the banks in the form of bailout money was mentioned – which equates to £400 from every man, woman and child in the country. And then the issue of RBS’ £25 billion tax avoidance schemes was raised. But then again, they are bankers, so not much of that should really come as a surprise, and no passers-by seemed surprised either.

Numero cuatro on the tour was Vodaphone, the scoundrels who have spent the last decade fighting doggedly  to avoid paying tax, with the sum so far coming up to 6 billion in unpaid tax. But Mr Osborne is a nice guy, and so let them off with not paying ANY of their unpaid tax.

In fact, he’s SO nice that he decided to give Vodaphone a few of the top jobs as governmental advisors. Can you guess which department? That’s right, In tax.

The next stop was by far the most eventful part of the tour. First, while walking to the Barclays branch on Union Street, it was noticed that someone was following the group, which it was then noted was the security guard from Topshop.

It seems he had become a vigilante in the last 15 minutes and decided to ‘protect’ the whole of Union Street from this band of roving ‘Anarchists’; truly he is a hero of Aberdeen, although he eventually got bored and started talking to the security in HMV.

But yet more eventfulness occurred during the talk on Barclays (who, as well as being bankers – an instant sign of being a Scallywag – Barclays have a particularly nasty portfolio that includes both food speculation and a £7.3 billion investment in the arms trade sector, the largest global share) when, you guessed it again, the po-po turned up.  Forgive the terminology, I don’t usually belittle the police, most just do their jobs, but what happened here can only really be called harassment.

Watch out Hidden Aberdeen Tours, you may soon find yourselves blacklisted as enemies of the state.  

While discussing the evils committed by Barclays, three police officers approached the group, apparently Topshop had lodged a complaint that the tour was being a nuisance, quite a feat seeing as the group was now about two hundred metres away.

The officers repeatedly asked for information and details from members of the group, which was refused each and every time, as they had no right to ask. They kept asking who was in charge, to which it was explained that no one was. And they kept referring to the tour as a protest.

Watch out Hidden Aberdeen Tours, you may soon find yourselves blacklisted as enemies of the state.

After the conclusion of the Barclays talk, and the departure of the police officers, the tour continued on its final leg with two concluding pieces on Union Terrace Gardens, Sir Ian Wood, and the mischievous dealings of Woodgroup PLC, mainly along the lines of tax avoidance (although not confirmed, it is believed that 26% of his companies are located in tax havens and he has skimped on paying his employer National Insurance contributions) and the false generosity of Sir Wood’s £50 million to the Union Terrance Gardens Refurbishment.

Seeing as he already owes that money to the government in taxes, its not really a gift. It’s like giving an old lady £20 after you assault and mug her of the same £20 the week before.

In all, while the Scoundrels and Scallywags tour of Aberdeen may not have had the same impact of the Rome protests, and it may not be as daring as the current Wall Street and St Paul’s occupations, it was an important step for Aberdeen.

People’s attention is being grabbed by the imaginative campaigns being carried out by Aberdeen Against Austerity, local doers of corporate evil are becoming more concerned about popular opposition, and it was one of the best attended actions to date.

Aug 242011

Two Aberdeen residents are embarking upon a Mini adventure of epic proportions to attend a charity event. Voice’s  Stephen Davy-Osborne is all set to participate in the event.

Stephen Davy-Osborne and Steven Gerrie will be driving cross-country from Aberdeen to Westward Ho! in Devon, South West England in a classic Mini Cooper, to take part in the annual Legendary North Devon Grand Tour.

Hundreds of Minis will come together to raise money for local children’s charity Children’s Hospice South West.

The event, now in its 17th year, has raised thousands of pounds in sponsorship and donations for the charity, and their North Devon Hospice Little Bridge House.

Event organiser Terry Baker, who has been driving the event right from the very beginning spoke to the Aberdeen Voice about what he thinks makes the event truly unique, encouraging – as they are affectionately referred to in Mini circles – “nutcases” to come back year after year to participate:

“Maybe it is the Mini owners who take part and the incredible amount of money they have raised over the years. Maybe it is the thousands of people who line the streets and wait in lay-bys, stand on street corners and fill the villages and towns just waiting for the Minis to go by. 

“Maybe it is the fantastic motorbike marshals who ride ahead and keep all the minis together and close the roads so that we can keep going. Any one of these would make the Grand Tour special, but when you put them all together with a group of very special children and their families from the children’s Hospice you have something that is pure magic and not just for the Mini owners.”

The event takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, taking in some of the finest scenery the South-west has to offer; driving through streets lined with locals and holiday makers alike who have come out in force to show their support for the charity.

The convoy of around 300 Minis drives noisily right up to the front door of Little Bridge House and around the purpose-built roundabout the wrong way, while children staying at the hospice wave them on with flags and banners created especially for the day.

This part of the run is especially poignant, as Terry recounts:

“When we drive through the Hospice we are privileged to see the children having fun; laughing, smiling and waving flags. It is hard to remember that Little Bridge House is a place where get well cards do not work, and that no matter how many hugs you give the special children you can never kiss them better; all the magic in the world cannot change their diagnosis.”

Perhaps it is not surprising that many a driver and co-pilot emerge from Little Bridge House with a lump in their throats.

If you would like to make a donation to the event, or for further information, check out:

Aug 102011

With thanks to Friends Of Duthie Park and University of Aberdeen Natural History Centre.

Ahead of the forthcoming major restoration work that will see the return of much of the original Victorian elements to the north east’s most popular visitor attractions, the ‘Friends of Duthie Park’ group is hosting an open day later this summer.
Sunday 14th August will see festivities running between 12 noon and 4 pm and there will be something for all of the family.

Friends Chairman Tony Dawson explains,

“This will be an opportunity to celebrate the park as it is now prior to the refurbishment. I think it’s fair to say that many people know there is major work to be undertaken without necessarily being aware of all that is involved.

“Consequently, we will have a powerpoint display of the planned work, running on a loop, while at 1 pm and 3 pm, there will be guided tours around the park explaining the details of the restoration which is substantial and includes the return of the ‘Duthie fountain’ and the re-establishment of the original promenade.

“In addition, we’ll have plenty of entertainment including horse and cart rides, music from the Bon Accord Silver Band, zumba and fitness demonstrations, gardening workshops and many other stalls and attractions.

“We are hoping to welcome back ‘Spike’ the talking cactus after an absence of more than a decade. However his electrics are in need of some attention and if there is anyone out there who feels they could repair him, then we’d be delighted to hear from them as he would bring back lots of memories for those of a certain generation.”

A full timetable for the day will be available on from the beginning of August.

  • Duthie Park Open Day
    Sunday 14th August
    12 til 4pm
    Come along and join in the fun

The “Friends of Duthie Park” was set up in 2006 as a charitable organisation established to promote Aberdeen’s world famous park, one of the most popular tourist attractions within the Granite City.

The Friends work closely with the Park’s owners, Aberdeen City Council to provide a positive mouth piece for the Park’s users.

Currently the Friends organisation is closely involved with the bid by Aberdeen City Council for Heritage Lottery Funding to restore areas of the Park to their former glory.

They actively encourage membership of the organisation, which currently is free, as they are always interested in facts, knowledge or ideas for the Park.