Sep 262014

carpenter n mayBy David Innes.

It’s quite a coup for local Americana promoter Martin Raitt’s Almost Blue Promotions to bring scintillating roots duo Carpenter & May to The Blue Lamp.

Attracting such a prestigious act is proof that in just over a year of existence, Almost Blue is punching above its weight and becoming the go-to outlet for PRs and promoters eager to promote their acts in NE Scotland.

The Gallowgate gig on Friday 3 October is the final date of the duo’s eagerly-anticipated eight-date Scottish tour.

Both experienced and busy musicians, Fred Carpenter and Tim May have impressive CVs, having variously worked with, among others, Emmylou Harris, Barbara Mandrell, George Strait, Patty Loveless and Charlie Daniels.

Their debut CD Carpenter & May was released four years ago and topped the Folk Radio airplay chart on its release.  It continues to delight fans, four years on. The critics were effusive in their praise…

“It is obvious by the end of the first song on this new album by Fred Carpenter and Tim May that the virtuosity expected from these two wonderful musicians is in full effect. This album is fun, powerful, and superb.” – Bluegrass Unlimited

“Anyone seeking an alternative to blazing bluegrass and slick Nashvegas sounds could find what they are looking for right here. Everything is impeccably understated and without pretension.”  – Driftwood Magazine

“It is easy to see why Fred Carpenter and Tim May have had a great deal of success beside some of the biggest names in country music. It’s time for them to step out and shine individually.” –  Sing Out!

Witnessed live, the duo has attracted fine reviews too, and not only from the critics…

“Fred Carpenter and Tim May play roots music at its best. Using guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, and vocals, they can mow down backyard bluegrass, tug the Celtic heartstrings, or even croon a jazz standard.” – Tim O’Brien

“Fred and Tim are a one-two punch: two virtuosos who share a passion for acoustic music from many different traditions. Both have a musical maturity and depth of phrasing that instantly complement and play off each other. From achingly beautiful ballads, through celtic airs, jigs and reels, to hot jazz and fiery bluegrass, they bless us with their talent, their vision and the generosity of spirit with which they play.” –  Kathy Mattea

The Lampie’s clientele is in for a treat, then. It promises to be one of the year’s best city gigs.

Tickets will cost £8 in advance, or £10 on the night. Advance booking here:

Keep up to date with Almost Blue news here

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Sep 192014

Wrigley SistersThe Tarland Food and Music Day Festival is set to take place on the weekend of 26th and 27th September, offering a feast for all the senses.

The programme is extensive and it is advisable to book tickets in advance for some of the events, as they will have number restrictions.
In fact, you would be advised to stay in Tarland for the weekend, so as not to miss anything!

The weekend kicks off on the evening of Friday 26th September with a rare opportunity to hear the Wrigley Sisters, supported by Paul Anderson and some members of his extensive musical family.

Please spread the word to your friends and family. This will be a special evening, and a busy weekend.

Born and raised in the northern Scottish Orkney Islands, the twins began performing together when barely into their teens; Jennifer on fiddle, Hazel on guitar and piano. A decade or so later, their fan-base stretched around the world, built up through a hectic schedule of concert tours and festival appearances in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East.

The universal audience appeal of Jennifer and Hazel Wrigley reflects both the calibre of their music, a sparkling blend of traditional, contemporary and original material, invigorated with jazz, blues and ragtime flavours – and the effervescent charm of their performances.

The Wrigley Sisters will be performing at the MacRobert Hall, the Square, Tarland, AB34 4YL on Friday 26th September, starts at 7.30pm and the admission is £12.00. The gig is licensed, and your ticket price includes some lovely nibbles.

Tickets can be booked by emailing:
or can be purchased from Strachans shop in Aboyne,
or from Sheila Lithgow, Tel 013398 87367

Further info including the full programme of events here.

Apr 082014

Charlie Abel by Julie ThompsonBy Bob Smith.

The barn wis wash’t and scrubbit doon
A job ower hard for ae wee loon
Seen aa the fleer wis fine an clean
Ready for a dustin o slipperene

Neipers an freens fae aa aroon
Cam doon the road ti wir fairm toon
There ti hae a dunce an celebrate
The hinmaist shaif throwe the cornyaird gate

There wis streamers hingin fae the roof
As roon the fleer the fowk did hoof
Gay Gordons, waltzes and foxtrots
Maist fowk wis swatin lots an lots

Music wis provided by twa chiels
Aabody got up fer an eichtsome reel
Syne fin they needed a wee bit rest
Samplin the food they did wi zest

Pies sandwiches an scones wi jam
Teas lemonade or maybe a dram
We aa sat aroon an hid a blether
Aboot the price o coos or the affa wither

Time ti gyang hame aroon een o clock
Some fowk in the mornin wid hae ti yoke
The horse up ti the sma box cairt
Fin gaitherin neeps they micht hae ti stairt

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
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Feb 272014

rannok_photoA very special collaboration is happening in three North East town this month. With thanks to Shona Donaldson.

Danish folk duo Rannok are making the trip to Scotland for joint concert’s with well-known traditional fiddler Paul Anderson and singer Shona Donaldson.

While studying at The Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Southern Denmark, Michael Graubæk and pianist Theis Langlands started the Rannok duo, playing what has been described as ‘a masterly blend of fiery folk music, authentic traditional tunes, and original compositions which give that contemporary touch’.

Rannok released their first album in 2010, dedicating it to both the Danish folk music tradition and to innovation.

Since then the duo have played at venues and festivals in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and all over Scotland, where they have met with particular audience approval. In fact Rannok’s first album was partly financed by Scottish fans who thought it high time they produced a cd.

“When we are composing our own music”, Michael says,

“we are influenced by the traditional sound of Danish music and the Scots as well. Theis is married to a Scots girl and has lived in Scotland, so we know the music. A couple of hundred years back, the Danish and British traditions were closer than they are today, and that’s the sound we’re aiming for”.

Paul Anderson, who is based in Tarland is already something of a legend in the time honoured fiddle tradition of Scotland. During his competitive career he won most of the traditional fiddle championships in Scotland and in 1995 won Scotland’s premier fiddling event ‘The Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Championship’. A regular on TV and radio, Paul has recorded 9 solo album and guested on over 40 CD’s.

Hailing from Huntly but now living in Deeside Shona Donaldson is one of Scotland’s best known young traditional singers. In 2009 she won the coveted Scots Singer of the Year Award at the Scots Traditional Music Awards. She has a particular enthusiasm for the songs of the North East and as well as singing plays the fiddle.

The collaboration between two of Denmark’s most acclaimed musicians and two of Scotland’s best known traditional musicians is certainly not to be missed. It promises to be a great night of music and song!

Rannok, Paul Anderson and Shona Donaldson will be appearing at Tarland Primary School in Tarland on Friday 14th March and the concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £7.

On Saturday 15th March Rannok will be leading a music workshop in the Village Hall in Braemar at 2pm and all instruments are welcome to learn from two of Denmark’s most acclaimed musicians. The workshop will cost £10.

The concert in Braemar will be in The Village Hall at 7.30pm and tickets are £7.

On Sunday 15th Rannok will again be leading a workshop in The Gordon Arms Hotel in Huntly at 2pm with all instruments welcome and it is £10.

The concert on Sunday night will be in The Gordon Arms Hotel, Huntly at 7.30pm and tickets are £7 on the door.


Paul Anderson

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Jan 312014

By Bob Smith.

“Music has charms to soothe the savage breast” – So wrote the 17thc poet William Congreve.

Jablonski Electric Band 1 -  Credit: Julie Thompson

Music his the ability tae calm ye richt doon fin ye git yer knickers in a twist. Masel if a git trachelt or upticht a relax bi lis’nin tae a bittie o Beethoven or Mozart, or sometimes Japanese or Native American flute music. Bit aabody’s different an as lang as the music his a calmin enfluence it disna maitter fit ye listen tull.

A dinna cum fae a musical faimily tho’ ma faither fin his airm wis twistit cwid drag a gweed aneuch tune oot o the melodeon.

As for masel a’m disappyntit noo aat a didna cairry on ma accordion lessons fin a wis a loon,bit a didna gyaang back efter haein ma appendix oot. Still a can jist aboot manage a tunie on the moothie, an am fair tae middlin on the kazoo an the Jews harp.

A confess tae likin maist types o music fae Sibelius tae the Scottish Celtic folk-rock band Skerryvore tho’ am nae aat fond o punk, rap an modern jazz an lis’nin tae music played a big pairt in ma life fin a wis a loon an it still dis. Ilka Setterday nicht we wid sit roon the wireless an fair enjoy Scottish Dunce Music on the Scottish Hame Service.

Ma faither an me wid hae freenly discushins aboot faa hid the best band Jimmy Shand or Jim Cameron. Tho’ a did like Shand a hid a preference fer Jim Cameron. A think it wis the playin o Dod Michie on his cornet fit clinched it fer me. Ma mither likit Housewives Choice an Music While You Work an a learn’t aa the latest tunes an sangs bi lis’nin tae the Licht Programme afore it chynged tae BBC Radio 2

Music cairry’t on in ma teens fin a learn’t the airt o duncin in the village halls o Echt, Garlogie an Skene tae the music o Bert Duff’s Band  an Mary Milne’s Band tae name bit twa, syne twa quines fa work’t wi me in the offices o the S.A.I. perswaadit me tae gyaang wi them tae the duncin in Aiberdeen.

So a coontit masel lucky tae be  able tae dunce tae music fer the Gay Gordons an a Eichtsome Reel on a Friday nicht an Quicksteps an Slow Foxtrots on a Setterday nicht, firstly in the MacRobert Hall at Robert Gordon’s College (MacRobs), syne at The Beach Ballroom an The Palace.

Nae contint wi the music a heard on Friday an Setterday nichts a jined the Abergeldie Jazz Club fit eence wis doon in the Hardgate an ilka Widnesday nicht wid jive awa tae the resident band o Sandy West or listen tae weel kent guest bands. Kenny Ball, The Clyde Valley Stompers, The Alex Welsh Band an Terry Lightfoot and his Jazzmen aa pit in an appearance at the Abergelgie.

A hinna a great voice bit a hiv bin perswaadit noo an agin tae sing

Noo a coont masel affa lucky tae hae bin in at the stairt o the “Rock ‘n Roll” era, an fin a hid some spare siller wid buy the latest hits o the likes o Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers or Chuck Berry.

So far as a’m concerned pop music stairtit tae gyaang doonhill in the 70’s tho there wis a fyow exceptions, like Queen, The Eagles, Dire Straits an Status Quo.

Folk music fae aa ower Britain and the USA aye wis o great interest tae me speeshally the protest sangs o Woody Guthrie an Pete Seeger richt throwe tae early Bob Dylan.

Noo some fowk micht nae agree wi ma opeenion aat Bothy Ballads or Cornkisters cum unner the heidin o folk bit a leuk on them as bein the folk sangs o N.E. Scotland. A hinna a great voice bit a hiv bin perswaadit noo an agin tae sing the likes o “Nicky Tams” or the “Muckin o Geordie’s Byre” at faimily waddins. No am nae takin ony bookins!!!

As a grew aulder a stairtit tae appreciate the soonds o classical music. Nae the heavy stuff like Wagner mair yer licht classics bi Beethoven an Mozart or late 19thc/early 20thc composers like Edvard Greig or Frederick Delius. There’s nithing better than pittin on the heidphones an littin yer myn relax tae Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony or “Morning” fae the Peer Gynt Suite No 1 by Greig.

A’ve afen bin ask’d fit ma faavrit piece o music or sang is. There is a gweed fyow aat wid qualify bit tap o the pile maun be aat Scottish quine Eddi Reader singin “My Love is like a Red Red Rose” screived bi the man himsel Rabbie Burns.Een o the greatest love sangs ivver  if ye ask me.

So there ye hae it – “music has the charms to soothe the savage breast” accordin tae Congreve or as Wullie Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on”.  So far as am concerned baith chiels war richt.

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Dec 232013

Paul Anderson With thanks to Paul Anderson.

Once again it promises to be a memorable night of the finest traditional Scottish music at Aberdeen Music Hall’s ever popular Hogmanay concert.
The show, produced by Tarland fiddle virtuoso Paul Anderson, is in its fifth year and has gained a reputation as one of the top traditional Hogmanay events in Scotland.

As in previous years, the 2013 concert boasts an impressive line up with the Jonny Hardie Ceilidh Band, Jim Stevenson on bagpipes, Joanne Pirrie (dancer), fiddle sets including music from Paul Andersons new album “Land of the Standing Stones”, song and laughter from compere Robert Lovie and some unforgettable singing from the newly crowned “Scots singer of the year Siobhan Miller.

An added attraction to this year’s show is a specially composed tune, written by Paul Anderson, which will be the prize at a draw during the concert. The successful winner will get to pick the tune title, receive a hand written copy of the piece and a recording of their tune.

“I did this a couple of years ago for the concert and it proved very popular. The title chosen that year was “the moose hoose” and it features on Land of the Standing Stones. The idea would be for this year’s tune to feature on my next album” said Paul.

The concert starts at 7.30 pm and finishes at 10 pm with tickets available from the Aberdeen Box Office. For further information please contact Paul Anderson on 01339881929 or

Oct 042013

An Optimistic Sound – The Songs of Michael Marra, Dundee Repertory Theatre, 28 September 2013. David Innes reviews.


It’s difficult to believe that almost a year has passed since Michael Marra was taken from us, and the world was deprived of a supremely talented writer, artist and performer.

The affection and respect which poured out from fellow artists, fans and friends in October 2012 validated his status and the esteem in which he was held.

Such was this esteem that Celtic Connections, only three months after his death, featured an evening of celebration of his music and influence entitled All Will Be Well.

Quite what he would have made of this we can only guess; but as a fiercely proud Dundonian writer and performer, one can imagine that a further commemoration, An Optimistic Sound, played to a sold-out Dundee Repertory Theatre, would be the finest accolade that he could imagine.

Whilst the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall event was emotional and celebratory, by contrast the Dundee event had a more relaxed feel. It was as if Michael’s ‘bairns’ The Hazey Janes, with son Matthew on bass and daughter Alice compering and performing, and wife Peggy, had invited friends round for the evening to sing a few songs and share an anecdote or two.

That spirit of inclusion extended to the audience, loudly appreciative of every artistic effort extended for our entertainment.

Whether it was Rod Paterson telling of Michael’s generosity in completing a muse-deserted Paterson song overnight, Peter McGlone blowing heart-rending saxophone, or Saint Andrew declaiming Woodwork Woodwork  and revealing that its refrain was based on the late Gus Foy’s school timetable, standards of performance never fell below outstanding.

Could Muscle Shoals have assembled a more soulful backing chorus for Eddi Reader’s white-hot Here Come The Weak than Alice Marra, Karine Polwart and sisters Fiona, Gillie and Eilidh Mackenzie?

Dougie McLean has thankfully preserved a song, never recorded, which Michael would sing in his early performing days at Blairgowrie Folk Club, and took obvious delight in performing it.

These are merely a few highlights among many. The whole was indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

Michael had always shied away from stardom. As our national Makar Liz Lochhead reminded us, he once said, ‘I don’t want my name in lights; I want my name in brackets’. Ever the songwriter. His generosity was well-known and he would have been proud, without doubt, that all profits from the evening are to go to Optimistic Sound, a Michael Marra Memorial Music Trust for the young people of Dundee.

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Aug 302013

Woodend Barn Box Office and Marketing man David Officer brings Aberdeen Voice readers news of three upcoming shows featuring some of the finest folk talent around.

Jonny HardieOld Blind Dogs

Old Blind Dogs barely need any introduction to north-east folk fans. Jonny Hardie’s group have been wowing audiences around the world for over 20 years and show no signs of stopping.
We’re delighted to welcome them back to Woodend Barn on Friday Aug 30th at 8pm and can guarantee good times!

Tickets are going fast for this and we strongly recommend buying in advance.

Jenna Reid and Kevin MacKenzie

We’ve got a brilliant concert on at Tarland’s MacRobert Hall on Friday 13th September at 8pm with Jenna Reid and Kevin MacKenzie.  Shetlander Jenna will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Blazin Fiddles in the last few years but she’s a fantastic fiddler when on her own too.  She’s accompanied by guitarist Kevin MacKenzie for what should be a fantastic evening of traditional music.

Luke Daniels and Lauren MacColl

Luke Daniels and Lauren MacColl join forces on Friday 20th September at 8pm to present a night of expressive and inventive traditional music from two of the most gifted players around just now. Not to be missed.

Looking further ahead, we’ve got State of the Union (Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams) appearing on Friday 4th October at 8pm, and a very special evening with Rachel Sermanni in the intimate surroundings of Migvie Church in Logie Coldstone on Saturday 2nd November at 8pm – a concert which will have limited tickets available.

Jan 132012

With thanks to Norman  Fiddes.

Meldrum House Hotel  is hosting a Burns Night on  Saturday 28th January 2012 – with a Twist.

Entertainment  on offer will include a piper, traditional addressing of the haggis, a live band, dancers, speeches, and a surprise singing sensation – with a twist.

Guests should arrive for 7.30pm and a buffet dinner will be served at 8.00pm. Carriages at 12.30am

Traditional/Modern Casual
Tickets – £40 ( inclusive arrival drink)

To book, email Lucy on
Reduced accommodation rate of £99 per couple, B&B

Further info:
Set amidst beautiful countryside, The 4 Star Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course offers unrivalled quality. Only a few miles from Aberdeen, this is one of the finest luxury hotels Scotland has to offer.

Dec 272011

By Bob Smith.

Anither ear it nears it’s eyn
Faar dis the time gyang tull
It seems jist like the ither day
Ma fusky gless wis full

Full ti toast the cummin ear
An listen ti the bells a-ringin
Fowk gyaan aroon the streets
Auld Lang Syne they war singin

Scots aa ower iss warld o oors
Wull seen raise a gless or twa
Ti fowk back hame in auld Scotia
Fin fae faimily they’re far awa

Hogmanay is close eence again
A time ti reflect on fit’s been
A time ti think back ower the ear
An raise a gless ti an absent freen

A time tho’ ti look forrit
Ti enjoy life an hae some fun
A time ti gie thanks ti yer Makker
Aat yer still abeen the grun

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011. Image Credit © Piotr Majka |