14th February – Cassie and Maggie MacDonald

By all accounts these two sisters, Cassie and Maggie MacDonald from Halifax Nova Scotia are
something special and should not be missed. Irvine Folk Club has them as special guests on
Valentine’s Day – is it necessary to say that’s the 14th February!
Cassie and Maggie’s recent album The Willow Tree Collection won The Trad Album of the
Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards – and they’re only in their early twenties. Described
as an ‘unbelievably gifted duo’, they are on their first UK tour and the Irvine Club is their last
UK date before they go to Germany with gigs from 22nd February until the end of March. Phew!
The UK tour included three appearances at Celtic Connections which is fitting for a duo that
plays trad and contemporary Celtic instrumentals and vocals. Powerful, lively Fiddling
comes from elder sister Cassie whilst Maggie supplies clear acoustic Guitar and Piano skills.
Their notes don’t say who does the Foot Percussion or the Stepdancing! The excellent blend
of vocal harmonies, in English and Gaelic, comes from the closeness that is so often the case
with siblings – think Everlys. Expect material that ranges from soft and breathtakingly
beautiful to loud and boisterous.
Get yourself along to Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 14th February for 8pm to hear Cassie &
Maggie MacDonald. The club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. It’s
BYOB and there’s a good Cafe available.
Looking ahead, info is now available at on the 44th one which
runs from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May.
And finally, for Irvine Folk Club members, the AGM of Irvine Folk Club is on Wednesday
21st March 7.30pm in Vineburgh Centre.

31st January -Pauline Alexander and Sandy Stanage

Pauline Alexander & Sandy Stanage say that a good song is a good song and that’s what they will demonstrate when they top the bill at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 31st January.
The fine vocals of Pauline are equally matched by the extraordinary fingerstyle Guitar playing of Sandy. He began playing the Guitar at 12 years old. At Secondary School he got friendly with Jim ‘Midge’ Ure and they started a Band. Then in his adult life, Sandy has been a member of a number of Bands including Molendinar, Kentigern, the short-lived Scotland Yard with Marilyn Middleton Pollock & Ian Bruce, 3’s A Crowd with Alan Jones & Stevie Lawrence and latterly as a solo performer. As well as using his mastery of the Guitar in the duo with Pauline, on occasion Sandy also teams up with ex-Kentigern member Sylvia Barnes.
Pauline’s debut album Thoughts For The Masses, was selected by Iain Anderson as his Album of the Week on his BBC Radio Scotland show. The album features some of her own material and she also sings contemporary, folk and blues. Pauline has played in Irvine before, as support for Dougie MacLean in 2014 at The Maritime Museum.
Elsewhere, the 25th Celtic Connections continues until 4th February. The mammoth event emphasises the Connections part of the name and that’s why there is such a diverse list of artists. Check out the programme to find out what attracts you or be bold and take a chance!
Elsewhere, the 25th Celtic Connections continues until 4th February. The mammoth event emphasises the Connections part of the name and that’s why there is such a diverse list of artists. Check out the programme to find out what attracts you or be bold and take a chance!
After Celtic Connections closes, The Star Folk Club starts back on 13th February with Arthur Johnstone & The Stars Band. The Star meets at The Admiral in Glasgow’s Waterloo Street.

17th January – Jed Grimes

Time to dust off the Christmas & New Year festivities and mark in your diary that Irvine Folk Club starts 2018 with Jed Grimes as special guest on Wednesday 17th January.
From South Tyneside, Jed Grimes is a singer, guitarist, producer, raconteur and arranger. He also plays lap steel guitar and bouzouki. Jed has been a member of a number of bands, most notably Hedgehog Pie and The Hush. In recent times Jed has gone solo.
It was in the hope that it would open the door to meeting girls that Jed started playing a cheap plywood guitar. He then fell in with the Doonan family, and from there became a member of Hedgehog Pie. They were really successful in the 1970s and Jed remained a member of three different Hedgehog line-ups in that time. Jed was also a member of Dust the Needle, Pacamax and the aforementioned Hush.
His material is taken from Northumberland, Ireland and Appalachia and he sings traditional and self-penned songs in a voice known for its richness and depth. Known for not taking image management too seriously, Jed enjoys sharing a story and a chorus with an audience of whatever size.
Twice nominated for BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Jed’s first solo CD was Head On with his most recent being North Face released in 2016. It was Jed who put together a much acclaimed 40 track CD box set called Northumbria Anthology.
Hear Jed Grimes at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 17th January in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry. It’s BYOB, a Café is available and it all starts at 8pm.
The very next day on 18th January the 25th Celtic Connections bursts into action. The Programme says that the opening gala concert

20th December – Real Time

Real Time, a very talented band tops the bill on Wednesday 20th December – the final night at Irvine Folk Club for 2017. It’s a three-piece outfit on this occasion and features Kenny Speirs, Eilidh Grant & Fiona Cuthill – all three having appeared in different bands in Irvine over the years.
Denholm based Kenny Speirs has appeared at the Irvine Club on numerous occasions. His first Irvine appearance was probably with The John Wright Band when the Club was based at The Redburn and since then as a soloist and as a member of a variety of duos and trios and also Real Time. Kenny plays acoustic guitar, sings and also writes songs.
Eilidh Grant is known for her stunning vocals. She has a real passion for the music of Burns and also is at home with contemporary and trad material. Along with Celine Donoghue & Katherine MacLeod, Eilidh makes up the other third of the popular Celtic Quines.
Classically trained Violinist Fiona Cuthill is certainly no stranger to Irvine. Usually, Fiona is to be found alongside master player of the guitar and bouzouki Stevie Lawrence in the band Rallion. She is also known as a fine composer.
Borders based Real Time started life some 15 years ago and since then has gone through a number of line-up changes. Their repertoire comes from both sides of the Border plus some contemporary items as well as self-penned material.
The Real Time combination of three such talented musicians should make for a really good night to mark the end of 2017. Forget rushing around in ever-decreasing Christmas circles for a while and get yourself along to Irvine Folk Club for 8pm on Wednesday 20th December at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road to hear Real Time. Irvine Folk Club restarts on Wednesday 17th January with Jed Grimes.
Elsewhere, remember that January 2018 sees the start of the 25th Celtic Connections and programmes, out now, are stappit-fu with details on bands from all airts and pairts and corners of the world.

6th December – Luckenbooth

Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th December will welcome back Luckenbooth, a band who last played at the Club some four years ago.

Luckenbooth is a Lanarkshire based outfit whose stated aim is to sing songs that suit the audience. Whilst that might sound a bit obvious, it’s not always the case with musicians who sometimes have a set list and plough on regardless. Here’s to the Luckenbooth approach!

Luckenbooth is a term that describes a brooch dating back to Mary Queen of Scots time and essentially is two entwined hearts. At that time it was the equivalent of an engagement ring. The band liked that background and called themselves Luckenbooth when they formed almost 20 years ago.

The band plays a wide range of instruments. Christine on vocals, keyboards, whistle and percussion; Mhairi on fiddle, viola and vocals and Alex on guitar, vocals, mandolin, whistles and flute are Luckenbooth. The three-piece band plays mainly at Clubs and Festivals around Scotland’s central belt and are content with that catchment area. Their repertoire is a mix of traditional and contemporary, and, as mentioned earlier, the band tailors their set to suit the audience. Luckenbooth love to get their audiences singing along and their choice of material reflects that. Humour also plays an important part of their performance with Christine having the responsibility of finding new jokes!
Two of the band come from a classically trained background and the predominant musical influences of Luckenbooth include Ewan McColl, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Ossian, Jez Lowe and the psychedelic folk band of the sixties, The Incredible String Band.

Irvine Folk Club audiences like good songs and enjoy singing along. Luckenbooth fits that identikit picture to a tee. Hear Luckenbooth at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th December at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

22nd November – Kieran Halpin

Kieran Halpin is the special guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 22nd November and he is a guest to put in the ‘unmissable’ category. The man who writes great melodies and sings with the passionate, gravelly voice is back.

A career that started in 1974, with 20 plus albums to his name, thousands of gigs played at venues all over the world, a prolific songwriter of great quality – these are the key musical facts about Kieran Halpin. What the facts don’t tell you is his continuing search for new approaches to present his songs nor does it describe the powerful nature of a live Kieran Halpin performance. This unassuming man has an easy stage presence, an incisive wit and connects with his audience so very well.

Kieran plays acoustic guitar, regales the audience with explanations of where each song comes from and links it all together with some very funny asides. His thought-provoking lyrics and memorable melodies can make you think, laugh or cry. Numbers like ‘Nothing to show for it all’, ‘Berlin Calling’, Closing time in Paradise’ are some of his songs that come to mind.

Kieran Halpin has played on a number of occasions at the Irvine Club. He is invited back because he is such a gifted writer and performer. Kieran is also one of the hardest working artists with upwards of 160 gigs each year. In September he was touring in New Zealand and South Australia then in October it was Germany and now he is back in the UK. Yet with all the travelling his busy touring schedule entails, Kieran still finds time to write songs. His recent CD, Doll, released this year, has eleven new self-penned songs on it.

If you are a fan of lyrics, it would be a mistake to miss Kieran Halpin at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 22nd November. The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Far Far From Ypres

The acclaimed stage production Far, Far From Ypres written and directed by Ian McCalman is on at Irvine’s Volunteer Rooms on Saturday 11th November. It is a tribute in song and poetry about those who fought and died in WW1 and tells the story of Jimmy McDonald who ‘comes from any village, town or city in Scotland’.
First performed in 2012, the production was brought back to mark the 100 years since the start of the ‘war to end wars’. The performance on Saturday 11th November is part of Irvine Folk Club’s 50th anniversary series of events and, helped by the generous support of North Ayrshire Council, the Club was delighted to secure Far, Far From Ypres for Irvine.
The show is narrated by Broadcaster Iain Anderson and features impressive singing and harmonies from 26 of Scotland’s finest folk musicians who remain on stage for the duration of the performance. Enhancing the audience’s understanding of the unfolding story is a backdrop of cleverly selected and presented images.
Far, Far From Ypres began as an album of Soldiers’ Marching and Trenches’ songs and poems. The songs gave a vivid insight into the attitudes and concerns of the troops in the trenches. From the album, Ian McCalman was inspired to write a narrative around the songs. Ian said ‘The songs of WW1 often speak of disillusionment, bitterness, boredom and a very dark sense of humour. There was no talk of heroics in the songs the soldiers were singing in the trenches and in the Music Halls back in Blighty’.
Another surprise in the songs was that very few showed any animosity towards the German troops. ‘It was quite unbelievable that the Soldiers wrath was directed at their own Command’ Ian added. Diverting the production from a path of unremitting gloom are songs and stories of humour and joy. And despite illustrating the horrors of war, and the individuals and communities touched by the sadness and helplessness of it, the show invariably leaves singers and the audience alike with nothing but admiration for the sacrifices of the thousands of Scots who went to war.
‘Far, Far From Ypres is not to be missed’ says Anne Clarke of Irvine Folk Club. ‘Having been at the performance in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall some years ago, we knew then that we wanted to stage it in Irvine and by happy coincidence a date was eventually secured which tied in with the Club’s 50th anniversary’.
Tickets at £10 are available – but over 250 have already been sold. Joyce Hodge of Irvine Folk Club added ‘The Club wanted to have an affordable ticket price and judging by the ticket sales, we have done that’. She added ‘Anyone wanting a ticket should get one soon’.
For tickets, contact Joyce on 01294 551047 or email – soon!

8th November – Flossie Malavialle

Flossie Malavialle is the guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 8th November. From Nimes in France and resident in the North East of England since 2002, Flossie has appeared at the Irvine Club a number of times.

Eclectic best describes Flossie’s repertoire. She does cover versions of a wide range of material. The Irvine audience can expect to hear her take on songs from Sinatra to Abba, from Errol Garner to Paul McCartney and a whole load of stuff in between. In short, there is usually something to please everyone! Flossie has a clear and strong voice, accompanies herself on acoustic guitar and makes much of her Franglais.

With her commanding stage presence and a repertoire, for the most part, of well-known songs, Flossie works hard on her chosen career and has a busy Gig list. She now has 12 albums to her name. As well as her solo gigs, Flossie is one half of the Dark Horses duo – the other half being guitarist Keith Donnelly.

Hear Flossie Malavialle at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 8th November at Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Continuing with its 50th anniversary celebrations, on Saturday 11th November Irvine Folk Club presents Far, Far From Ypres in The Volunteer Rooms. The Show, written and directed by Ian McCalman, features approximately 25 singers who remain on stage for the duration of the performance. It is narrated by Broadcaster Iain Anderson. Tickets are £10 and available from Joyce on 01294 551047 – but be quick!

Elsewhere, Mike Silver is the guest at Glasgow’s Star Folk Club on Tuesday 7th November at 7.30pm. Downstairs in The Admiral Bar in Waterloo Street is where to find The Star.

25th October – James Keelaghan

Canadian folk singer and songwriter James Keelaghan made his first appearance at Irvine Folk Club three years ago and he tore the place apart. He is a terrific artist and it’s great news that he is back in Irvine on Wednesday 25th October.
Calgary born but now based in Perth in Eastern Ontario, James has been in the music business for over 25 years and has eleven 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 member of the international singer and songwriter community – his albums have brought him an impressive share of nominations and awards from Australia to Sweden.
James’ Dad was an Irish man and it is to him that James owes much of his early musical inspiration. His Dad was also a great storyteller and James says he is still trying to be as good as his Dad. The love of storytelling gave James a passion for language and history and both aspects are evident in his songwriting. As well as his own material, James also does some covers, Gordon Lightfoot being a favourite.
As well as touring extensively, James has been Artistic Director of the Summerfolk Music & Crafts in Owen Sound in Ontario since 2011. He also leads tours in Ireland for about 22 people which are a mix of visits to places off the beaten track and music. The next one is in May 2018.
Expect to hear a mix of roots, rock, Americana and contemporary folk when James Keelaghan plays at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 25th October in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm.
The 2018 Celtic Connections programme is out. And who would have believed this will be the 25th Connections already! From 18th January – 4th February, 2,100 artists over 300 events across 20 Glasgow venues. You get the drift. A range of styles and traditions all celebrating live music. Visit or follow the conversation @ccfest
And finally, The Johnny Silvo Story at The Townhouse Irvine is coming up fast. The date is Friday 27th October and tickets are £8. It will be different and it will be good. And looking slightly ahead, on Saturday 11th November in The Volunteer Rooms, Ian McCalman’s Far, Far From Ypres takes place. Narrated by Iain Anderson with 26 musicians on stage throughout, it’s a terrific production. Both events are part of the programme to mark the 50th anniversaries of Marymass Folk Festival and Irvine Folk Club. Tickets for both events are available from Joyce on 01294 551047 or email Don’t leave it too late to get tickets.

The Johnny Silvo Story

The Johnny Silvo Story will be told on Friday 27th October in Irvine’s newly revamped Townhouse. It’s a terrific setting for a story that Johnny’s many fans will want to hear and it’s part of the ongoing celebrations to mark the 50th Anniversaries of Marymass Folk Festival & Irvine Folk Club.
Johnny died in late 2012, but by clever use of innovative technology, film footage of the great man plus recorded and live material, the story of Johnny can be told. This type of event, although featured at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, will be a first for the Irvine Club.
Johnny’s first association with Irvine stretches back to Marymass Folk Festival 1974 and, such was his popularity, that he was almost an ever-present at subsequent Festivals and also a frequent guest at Irvine Folk Club. Johnny’s Irvine fans couldn’t get enough of him!
Alastair McDonald will be the main linkman at the concert on the 27th October. He knew Johnny and like Johnny, started off his musical career in Jazz and Skiffle bands. Alastair is a weel-kent face to Irvine audiences and is ideally suited for the occasion.
‘The 50th Anniversary Celebrations give us the chance to do things we would otherwise be unable to tackle’. Said Anne Clarke of Irvine Folk Club. She continued ‘Johnny was such a favourite with Irvine audiences,that we had no hesitation in saying yes to having The JohnnySilvo Story premiered here. An added bonus is that it takes place in the impressive surroundings of Irvine Townhouse.’
Tickets at £8 are now on sale for The Johnny Silvo Story on Friday 27th October. They are available from Joyce on 01294 551047 or by email to – but be warned, tickets are limited so don’t hang about.