29th January – Stephen and Pernille Quigg

Scarcely believable, but Stephen Quigg will be 60 on Burns Day and, on Wednesday 29th January –  by dint of careful planning, his wife Pernille and him top the bill that night at Irvine Folk Club. Let’s hope for an especially tuneful rendition of Happy Birthday to You!

Ardrossan born Stephen started out at Irvine Folk Club when it was at The Eg and that means he has been on the folk circuit for almost 40 years. Jings, how did that happen!  Underlying Stephen’s successful and longstanding musical career is a very fine singing voice and sustained hard work. He carved out a successful solo career with his terrific vocals and thoughtful instrumental accompaniment.  In 2001, Stephen joined The McCalmans and managed to combine his solo career with a life with The Macs.  Just in case you have been on the moon, The Macs called it a day in 2011. Stephen then formed a duo with fellow ex-Mac, the late Nick Keir and still kept up his solo gigs. In recent years, Stephen & Pernille have become an established musical duo touring in Scotland and Europe.

Stephen plays acoustic guitar and his superb balance of voice and instrument is something that many other artists would do well to copy.  He also plays bodhran and, not often enough, the banjo. Traditional ballads as well as well- chosen contemporary material are his repertoire. He works hard to keep set lists fresh and it certainly pays off. Stephen also has a nice line in deadpan humour. And now with Pernille on stage alongside him, Stephen is a happy bunny – a happy 60 year old bunny.

It will be good to have Pernille & Stephen Quigg as the special guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 29th January. There is a strong possibility that some of Stephen & Pernille’s musical friends in the folk world will be along on the 29th at the Irvine Club. The venue is Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road and the first notes start at 8pm.

Meanwhile, Celtic Connections is in full swing at venues across Glasgow. Go online for full information.

15th January – Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald

Irvine Folk Club starts back Wednesday 15th January with a Canadian duo whose music is described as buzzing with energy. They are Ben Miller & Anita MacDonald and after doing the Irvine gig, they are playing at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections for three nights before returning to Canada. So, make the most of the opportunity to hear them in Irvine.

American born Ben now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Anita is from Little Narrows in Nova Scotia. They play Scottish Lowland Pipes and Cape Breton Fiddle with Gaelic song and step-dance. Described as one of the most important folk acts in Cape Breton Island today, Ben and Anita blend the threads of old and new world traditions by playing great music very well in a refreshing and entertaining style.

Ben and Anita have won all sorts of awards in the music business and are in demand around the globe as musicians and educators. They have played at Celtic Colours International Festival, Tonder in Denmark, Edinburgh Fringe plus festivals in Texas, California and Maine in the USA, not forgetting Austria, Italy and Switzerland!

A Day at the Lake was Ben and Anita’s debut album. On occasion, Ben and Anita team up with multi-instrumentalist Zakk Cormier from Prince Edward Island and go on tour.  The sometimes trio released an album South Haven to wide critical acclaim.

Seems like Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald will kick off the year at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 15th January in excellent style. The Club starts at 8pm, it’s BYOB, there’s a very good café and it all happens at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road.

Leaflets giving a list of artists appearing at the Irvine Club are available from Libraries across North Ayrshire plus various other places. The same info is also available online at www.irvinefolkclub.org.uk                                                                                 

18th December – Tim Edey

Irvine Folk Club could be said to be saving the best till last as Tim Edey is the special guest on Wednesday 18th December – the final night of the Club’s year. He is described as a highly entertaining musical genius and this will be Tim Edey’s first visit to Irvine.

Multi-instrumentalist with a superb singing voice, Tim Edey is a former BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year and is one of the world’s finest guitarists and melodeon players. He is also no slouch on a variety of other instruments including piano, banjo and whistles.

Brought up in Kent and now living in Perthshire, Tim honed his guitar style from his Dad Richard and listening to the likes of Steve Cooney and Django Reinhardt. Tim has several albums to his name including recordings with Brendan Power and J.P. Cormier. He tours world-wide and has worked with The Chieftains, Christy Moore, Ry Cooder, Paul Brady, Sharon Shannon, Natalie McMaster plus many, many more. Tim has also appeared on Jools Holland on many occasions.

The Irvine Club audience can expect beautiful chorus songs plus a range of contrasting types of music including folk, jazz, blues and celtic. And, for those who want to improve on their guitar or melodeon skills, Tim does lessons via Skype and FaceTime – maybe make an ideal present!

To hear the immensely talented Tim Edey, be at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road on Wednesday 18th December for 8pm. It’s BYOB and there’s a café. Irvine Folk Club starts back in the new year on Wednesday 15th January when the guests will be Canadian duo Ben Miller & Anita MacDonald.                                                      

4th December – Jim and Susie Malcolm

Jim Malcolm – the man who plays simultaneous guitar and harmonica to an exceptional standard – is back at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 4th December and, for the first time here, playing in a duo with his wife Susie.

Jim Malcolm is known as a quality performer – very polished and very relaxed. Since he last played at Irvine some three years ago, Jim and his wife Susie now go out as a duo.  He is an accomplished songwriter but for many it is his thoughtful interpretations of traditional Scottish music that is his great strength.  Jim is a longtime admirer of the works of Burns and one of his solo CDs  Acquaintance  is made up entirely of the Bard’s compositions. But Jim can sing in any style.

The outstanding and confident guitar work and subtle harmonica playing of Jim just have to be heard. He is a master of inventiveness. So don’t be altogether surprised if you hear a Calypso or Jazz rhythm now and then.  Add to that, quality vocals from both Jim & Susie and it makes for a talented musical package. Holding the music together is Jim’s wry humour plus the history and story of the songs. A particular love of his and a source for his choice of much of his material is the wildlife and nature of the Angus Glens – and probably features strongly on their most recent album, The Berries.

The Berries is the second duet album the Malcolms have released. This is in addition to a solo album by Susie, Jim’s 13 solo albums as well as albums recorded when Jim was lead singer with Old Blind Dogs for eight years. In short, it adds up to a lot of material much of which has been written by Jim.

As well as playing at clubs and festivals, Jim and Susie, organise and lead Tours of Scotland which have gone down a storm – they are now taking bookings for 2021!  The Malcolms are two very busy people and still manage to tour extensively in the UK, Europe and America. So, to re-acquaint yourself with troubadour Jim Malcolm or to hear the talented Jim & Susie Malcolm for the first time, get along to Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 4th December for 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. You’ll be glad you did!                                 

20th November – Winter Wilson

The duo, Winter Wilson is back at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th November and you are well advised not to miss them. One reviewer says that if you can’t get to a gig by the husband and wife duo of Kip Winter & Dave Wilson, then buy a CD!

This will be their third visit to the Irvine Club and on both previous occasions they were very well received. The superb harmonies of Kip and Dave, their musicianship plus their off-the-wall humour all makes for an excellent night.

Having turned turned full-time professional musicians in 2012, a glance at their busy touring schedule indicates that it was the right choice for Kip and Dave. This year, apart from touring the UK, they have also performed in Australia, Spain, Belgium and Canada and still found time to release their first and long-awaited live album Live & Unconventional. That makes 10 albums to their name.

Kip’s nomadic upbringing saw her being raised in Holland, Germany, England, Scotland and France. She just loves singing – anything, classical to jazz but especially folk and blues. Kip learned to sing harmonies on long car journeys back to the Outer Hebrides in the family car and as well as having a fine voice, she plays Accordion, Guitar and Flute.

Lincolnshire man Dave bought his first Yamaha Guitar as a 17 year old and taught himself to play by studying The David Bowie Songbook. As well as having an excellent voice, Dave plays Guitar and Banjo. On tour, Dave plays Martin Guitars but at home he loves to play his Fender Strat. His sharp and observational songwriting talents have put him in the top tier of British songwriters.

Winter Wilson’s CDs include a song on their Cutting Free album which was written especially for Kip’s Mum by their good friend the late and much missed Nick Keir.

Winter Wilson is a class act. Their faultless harmonies seem effortless and added to their well-chosen repertoire and easy        on-stage chemistry, it all adds up to a duo well worth a listen. To hear Winter Wilson be at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th November for 8pm at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road  where it’s BYOB.

6th November – Anthony John Clarke and Dave Pegg

Anthony John Clarke – the man with the red guitar – is back at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th November and this time he will have Fairport legend Dave Pegg with him.  For the last ten years, every November they team up for a tour and happily the Irvine Club is on this year’s gig list. The Grin & Tonic Tour 2019 is how they title it!

From the minute softly spoken, fast talking and very engaging Belfast born Anthony John Clarke heard Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve of Destruction’, he knew he wanted to write songs. He was hooked. Although having trained as a teacher, the call of music was too strong and so he followed his calling. His admiration for songwriters is such that for many years AJ reckoned himself to be very much an apprentice songwriter – despite by then having songbooks and umpteen albums to his name and being held in high regard by his peers.  AJ’s keen eye for observation and sharp wit are what sets him apart as a much respected writer.  The perceptive ‘The only life Gloria knows’ remains one of his most requested songs.

AJ started off playing a second-hand Eko Ranger 6 as a youngster, and has become well known for his accomplished playing of a snazzy, red acoustic guitar. He sings songs that make you sit up and listen, songs that make you laugh, songs that make you think and most are self-penned.

AJ and Dave Pegg have been great pals for many years. Dave – or Peggy as he is known to family, friends and fans – is Fairport’s longest serving member. He also spent 15 years with Jethro Tull. He plays electric bass like few others and has been described as a virtuoso player. He also plays mandolin and has a fund of stories and tales – many of which are included in a book by him called ‘Off the Peg’ – an autobiography. His friends urged him to write the book so that there was a permanent record.

Great songs, great tunes, great stories delivered by two great pals all make for a great gig at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th November when Anthony John Clarke and Dave Pegg are the special guests. Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road is the venue and it’s BYOB.

23rd October – Mike Silver

The much-respected performer Mike Silver has notched up 50 years  experience as an acoustic singer and songwriter and he tops the bill at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 23rd October.

Starting off as a 15 year old apprentice with the Gas Board at Croydon, Mike’s greater love of music was too big a pull. His first band, The Sundowners – a Brylcreemed duo that played Shadow’s material at youth club dances – was where his musical career started.  In the mid ‘60s the music of Big Bill Broonzy, Bob Dylan and then Gerry Lockran in particular were his great influences.

Despite his 50 years as a professional musician, Mike flies under the radar and is another in the ‘best kept secret category’. His undoubted talents as a songwriter and performer plus his intricate guitar work are what makes a  Mike Silver gig not to be missed.  There is also a tremendous humour about the man. Mike is particularly pleased that he now has a Music Room at his home where his acoustic guitars adorn the walls. Guitar aficionados should visit his website and perhaps drool!

Mike writes thought provoking songs and whilst his set list will have an emphasis on his self-penned material, it is not to the exclusion of people like Dylan, Ray Charles plus some traditional melodies.

Playing music every day is for Mike, like having a birthday every day.  Music still fascinates him.  To him it’s a never-ending voyage of discovery and it’s that kind of enthusiasm that he communicates to audiences. And in answer to why is he still touring after 50 years, Mike says it’s the energy he gets from the applause or when someone takes the time to say ‘I liked that’.

Hear Mike Silver at Irvine Folk Club on 23rd October at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

ALASTAIR McDONALD

A wee plug for Alastair’s upcoming concert at Ayr Gaiety on Tuesday 22nd October. The concert starts at 7.30pm and promises to be a good night.

9th October – Louise Jordan

Something Very Different

In a departure from the usual way of things at Irvine Folk Club, on Wednesday 9th October the scheduled special guest Louise Jordan will be performing her one woman play The Hard Way.

Louise made her first appearance at the Club in 2014. She is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and now a playwright. The Hard Way is an inspirational story about Hannah Mitchell who by sheer force of character and with only two weeks of formal schooling escaped drudgery at a remote hill farm in the Derbyshire Moors to become a campaigner, speaker, writer, suffragette, councillor and finally a city magistrate in Manchester.

Hannah’s story is told by Louise through storytelling and song and charts Hannah leaving home as a 14 year old exchanging one exploitative situation for another – to coming face to face with Winston Churchill in 1906 at a public meeting  and spending time in Strangeways Prison. The Hard Way celebrates one woman’s determination to take power in the face of insurmountable barriers, motivated by a desire to improve life for those round her.

In The Hard Way, theatre and folk music combine to make for a richer experience.  Louise is inspired by the impact music can have on people and The Hard Way follows her play No Petticoats Here, which tells the story of remarkable women through song.

At Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 9th October, the first half will be devoted to floor singers and musicians with The Hard Way being performed in the second half. A different night at Irvine Folk Club. The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB. There is also a very good café.                         ,r,d),

James Keelaghan and Hugh McMillan

The internationally recognised Canadian folk singer and songwriter James Keelaghan is the very welcome guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 25th September – his third appearance at the Club. He is a terrific artist and it’s great that he is back in Irvine as part of his current UK tour.

Calgary born but now based in Perth in Eastern Ontario, James has been in the music business for almost 30 years and has twelve albums to his name. It’s said that he has one of the most distinctive and easily identifiable voices in Canada. James is an acclaimed and popular member of the international singer and songwriter community and his albums have brought him an impressive share of nominations and awards from Australia to Scandinavia.

James’ Dad was an Irish man and his Mum was English and they encouraged James’ interest in language, storytelling and music.  His Dad was a great storyteller and James says he is still trying to be as good as his Dad. James has a passion for history and in particular about science and WW1.  He writes songs of a historical nature with underlying universal themes and the tangled emotional paths of human relationships.  James is a baritone and plays acoustic guitar, as well as his own material, he also does some covers, Gordon Lightfoot being a favourite.

James’ other passion is reading and books. In any one year he will get through around 80 books. His songwriting talent may also have been influenced by his fondness for the work of W.B Yeats – a fondness which started when he was 14.

As well as touring extensively, James also leads coach tours in Ireland which are a mix of visits to places off the beaten track and folk music. He has just completed the most recent one earlier this month before starting his UK tour with Hugh McMillan.

Hugh is also Canadian and describes himself as a folk/jazz/rock musician. He is a member of the folk rock band Spirit of the West and a multi-instrumentalist.

Expect to hear a mix of roots, rock and contemporary folk when James Keelaghan & Hugh McMillan play at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 25th September in Vineburgh Community Centre. The Club starts at 8pm.                                                                                                                    

11th September – Colum Sands

‘Whatever you say, say nothing, when you talk about you know what’ is a line from one of the seemingly endless flow of original songs by Colum Sands  and he is the very welcome guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 11th September.  It is always good to welcome back to the Irvine Club this gifted and internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter from Co Down.

Colum has been singing for some 40 plus years, having started out as part of the renowned Sands Family way back in the early 70s. Hailing from Newry and now resident in Rostrevor, Colum is a natural stortyteller with a warm, and engaging personality on and off stage. His songs record life past and present and some of his work in recent times has helped break down cultural barriers particularly in places like Israel where he has collaborated and made recordings with local musicians.

Having learned to play the fiddle from his late Father, Colum also plays concertina and is also a fine guitar player.  When he first played in Irvine as part of The Sands Family, he also played the double bass – but touring with a double bass can be challenging!

Colum is a hard-working musician, taking his music all over the world and has played in over thirty countries.  As well as smaller venues like Irvine Folk Club, Colum has played in New York’s Carnegie Hall and frequently finds that his songs arrive before him, being carried by other singers or recorded by other performers. His songs have been translated into German, Dutch, Danish and Hebrew. In addition, since the 1990’s, Colum has presented BBC Radio Ulster’s Folk Club from Belfast. He has his own independent label Spring Records and produces albums at his recording studio at home.

It’s been five years since Colum’s last appearance at the Irvine Club, so don’t miss the chance to hear him on Wednesday 11th September. He is one of the folk scene’s most accomplished and entertaining performers.  The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.