20th June – Steve Turner

Steve Turner is the guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th June. He now plays only 50 or so gigs a year so Irvine is fortunate to get this unassuming, multi-instrumentalist with a superb voice.

Manchester born Steve comes from a family of concertina players and singers. His musical career started off he says ‘as a pretend Geordie’ in the Canny Fettle band in 1970 playing concertina. From then until 1991 he toured with them internationally and in the UK and also established himself as a professional solo musician. He drifted away from folk music for thirteen years and indeed one journalist opined that Steve would be an ideal candidate for a ‘Whatever happened to…’ article. The reason for his absence from the live music scene was that he was building up an internationally known stringed instrument business. Now being semi-retired from the business gives him the time to play the venues he wants to play.

After that ‘break’ in his performing career, Steve made a welcome return to the folk scene – some say as an even better performer. He is a man of considerable talents and his style is understated. Known best as a master of the concertina, Steve also sings superbly and clearly – always relaying the full meaning of songs. He also plays cittern, mandolin and tenor banjo. He is much sought-after as a concertina accompanist and gives workshops on accompaniment. As well as being a talented performer he also has a delightful personality.

Steve tours the length and breadth of the UK and has also toured in Australia and New Zealand. At the 23rd Celtic Connections he played as part of The King’s Shilling production. Steve has seven albums to his name, the most recent one being Spirit of the game.

For those who haven’t heard Steve Turner, get along to the Irvine Club on Wednesday 20th June to hear for yourself this very fine, self-taught concertina player. You will not be disappointed. The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

6th June – Tommy Sands

Singer, songwriter and peace activist Tommy Sands is the very welcome guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th June. It’s almost three years since Tommy was at the Club and it will be good to hear this richly talented man again.
Tommy’s songwriting has drawn the admiration of Nobel Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney and the father of Folk Music, Pete Seeger. Joan Baez, Kathy Matthia, Dolores Keane and Dick Gaughan are among the artists who have recorded Tommy’s ‘Daughters and Sons’ – a song that includes the gem of a phrase ‘sow the seeds of justice’.
Born in Mayobridge in Co Down in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, Tommy was part of a family where everyone played a musical instrument and says that when the guitar was introduced to the house, it was viewed with suspicion! Tommy engages audiences with his songs, his stories and his charm. He weaves legend, humour and thought-provoking messages into his songs – many of which are about helping shape a better world.
Although he performs his music on stages all around the world, he takes pride in in taking his music to dark corners of society eg teaching prisoners in Nevada from underprivileged backgrounds to write their own song with which to defend themselves in court. For his outstanding work as a musician and ambassador for peace and understanding, the University of Nevada awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. Last month, Tommy was performing in Iran, again using music to try to sow seeds of social change and peace.
At his home in Rostrevor, he has instigated a series of ground-breaking events under the banner of The Music of Healing where people of apparently opposing viewpoints are encouraged to see one another as neighbours rather than enemies. Sadly, it was at one such event last year that Tommy suffered a mini-stroke, from which he has happily recovered.
Make sure that are at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th June to hear Tommy Sands, writer of such songs as The Music of Healing, The Age of Uncertainty and Who Knows Where The Wind Blows. The Club meets at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

23rd May – Hans Theesink and Brooks Williams

Two giants of the Blues are in the UK for a tour and Irvine Folk Club is one of only three Scottish venues where you can hear Hans Theesink & Brooks Williams. Put Wednesday 23rd May at Irvine Folk Club in your diary!
Performing together and separately for this one-time collaboration, the tour is called Steady Rollin’ Blues and it’s not to be missed. Hans and Brooks share a love of the old songs, finger-picking in the Piedmont style and bottleneck slide. Both men have played at the Irvine Club and Marymass Folk Festivals. Hans has played solo, with his Band and also – and unforgettably – with the genius virtuoso Tuba Player from Harlem John Sas. When Brooks played at Marymass a couple of years ago, the audience were just blown away by his playing and singing. Therefore, having both of them is quite a coup for the Irvine Club and reflects its good reputation.
Dutchman Hans Theesink (pronounced Tay-sink), is probably Europe’s number one Blues expert. He has been on the road for 50 plus years and has over 30 albums to his name. Hans is a gentle giant with a rich baritone and jaw-dropping mastery of his National Steel Resonator, Mandolin and Harmonica.
Brooks is from Statesboro, Georgia and is ranked in the Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists. He is a mean finger-picker, a stunning slide guitarist and has a voice which you ‘can melt into’. Brooks has released 22 albums and tours worldwide relentlessly.
You catch the drift. On Wednesday 23rd May at Irvine Folk Club, don’t miss the opportunity to hear two ambassadors of country blues. The venue is Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry and the Club starts at 8pm.
Looking a bit ahead, on Friday 8th June at Ardrossan Indoor Bowling Club, Andy Chung and Ciaran Sinclair are playing at a concert organised by Ardrossan Highland Games. Tickets are £10 and it starts at 7.30pm.

Ritchie Parrish Ritchie (Canada)

Canadian Band Ritchie Parrish Ritchie on their current UK tour are joined by Beaker Granger and Irvine Folk Club looks forward to welcoming them on Wednesday 9th May to top the bill. The Irvine date is their only Scottish gig on this tour which finishes in Huddersfield on 3rd June with a fundraiser for the RNLI.
Known as RPR for short, the Band is Rob Ritchie on Keyboards, Al Parrish on Bass, Steve Ritchie on Guitars and Beaker Granger on Percussion – but given the ease with which they swap instruments, the line-up is not strictly adhered to!
RPR plus Beaker Granger used to be the rhythm section in the much loved Tanglefoot. Having become untangled in 2009, the guys came to realise four years later that they missed entertaining people. They love being on stage and so RPR was formed. But whilst they used to do 150 shows a year, now they do only a handful, taking the view that after 30 hard-working years with Tanglefoot, ‘the less you play, the more important each show becomes’. The aim of RPR is simple. They want the audience going away after a show telling their friends ‘You missed one hell of a show’.
Talent, versatility, astonishing harmonies, outlandish energy, joyous, vibrant, great good humour and lots of hair – that’s what to expect from RPR.
Wednesday 9th May at Irvine Folk Club is the place to hear RPR with Beaker Granger. It promises to be a terrific night. The Club starts at 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road and it’s BYOB.
New Info Flyers for the Irvine Club are now out. Club guests from now until Marymass plus the line-up for the 2018 Marymass Folk Festival are all listed. If you can’t find one and don’t have online access, phone Joyce on 01294 551047.
Finally, Girvan Folk Festival starts this Friday 4th May and runs through to Sunday night. It’s a weekend of trad music and as well as concerts and a ceilidh there’s four venues that host sessions throughout the three days. Just go!

25th April – John Graham and Jim Jack

A new duo is at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 25th April in the shape of John Graham & Jim Jack. John is a veteran of The Clydesiders and will be familiar to some people.
The Clydesiders, a five-piece band formed in the 70’s, were regular guests at Irvine Folk Club when folk music was at its zenith with artists like Matt McGinn, The Clutha and The Laggan also on the go. Those with good memories and age on their side will remember the strong singing and really good harmonies of The Clydesiders – Sandy Kelso and John Graham are two band members who readily come to mind. Songs like Band O’ Shearers and The Land o’ the Leal featured in Clydesiders’ set lists.
Move on a wheen of years and whilst The Clydesiders are no more, ex-band member John Graham has teamed up with Jim Jack to form a duo. John plays Fiddle and sings and Jim plays Guitar. Well-chosen trad and contemporary material will most likely be the focus of John and Jim.
Wednesday 25th April at Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre with guests John Graham & Jim Jack will be a night for joining in with well-known songs – and that’s always appreciated at the Irvine Club. 8pm is the start time and it’s BYOB.
Elsewhere, an interesting event takes place on Saturday 21st April when friends of the late Brian Brown will get together to raise funds for the Music Fund of Cuba. This was one of the many causes which Brain supported by dint of hard work. The aim is raise enough money to get a plaque on a seat in The Mirimar Theatre in Havana in memory of Brian. The event starts at 12noon in the Labour Party Cottages in Townhead. Contact Arthur West on 07826 127759 or Eileen Sinclair on 07733 325561 for more info.
And finally, the 44th Girvan Folk Festival runs from Friday 4th – Sunday 6th May. Guests galore that include The Tannahills, Margaret Bennett, Kevin Macleod, Len Graham and the Lori Watson Trio. All info at

11th April – Allan Taylor

The guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 11th April is the internationally acclaimed songwriter’s songwriter Allan Taylor. It’s a few years since the Irvine audience has heard Allan, but for anyone who has not heard Allan Taylor live, make sure that the 11th April is in the diary.

His songs are sung by many performers in many languages. There are more than 100 recorded sessions of his songs with one of them ‘It’s good to see you’ having 80 cover versions including artists of the calibre of Nana Mouskouri, Rosemary Woods, De Dannan, Johnny Silvo, Don Williams, Dick Gaughan – you get the drift. Other gems to come from the pen of Allan Taylor include Still he sings, Roll on the Day, Lady take your time and The Rose and the Briar. A sustained quality of songwriting.

After hearing the songs of Woody Guthrie and the guitar playing of Davey Graham, Brighton born Allan, left there when he was 15 to become part of the vibrant London folk music scene. Fifty years down the road and frequently described as one of the last travelling troubadours, he has played all over the world at festivals, concerts and folk clubs. Most importantly, given such a remarkably lengthy and successful career, Allan still enjoys playing, undertaking new projects and doing new clubs and concert venues that interest him.

Album releases by Allan date back to 1971. There Was a Time released in 2016 is described as ‘a classy album’ and a labour of love which was performed in Northern Italy with the backing of a full symphony orchestra. He followed that in 2017 with his most recent album Behind The Mix.

Allan Taylor writes and performs with equal skill. He has an uncluttered style. His rich and mellow voice and mastery of the guitar are used sparingly to great effect and let the songs ‘speak’ for themselves. A lengthy musical career can however bring health difficulties. Towards the end of last year, three torn tendons in his shoulder meant he could barely lift a guitar far less play it. Happily, a successful op repaired the damage. He now does 45 minutes of Physio daily. Plainly Mr Taylor is dedicated to his craft.

Allan Taylor has been described as probably the most important songwriter of his generation. Decide for yourself by getting along to Irvine Folk Club on 11th April at Vineburgh Community Centre to hear an uncomplicated and honest performance by Allan Taylor. The Club starts at 8pm.

And finally, a reminder that Jimmie Macgregor’s One Man Show is on at The Townhouse in Irvine on Friday 13th April at 7.30pm. Tickets at £10 are available from Joyce on 01294 551047.

13th April – Jimmie Macgregor

Jimmie Macgregor brings his One Man Show to Irvine’s Townhouse on Friday 13th April and it will be the closing event of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Irvine Folk Club & Marymass Folk Festival.
Jimmie Macgregor MBE from Springburn has a career in Folk Music and broadcasting that spans over 50 years. He is one of life’s great raconteurs and he is also very funny. His One Man Show started several years ago and recounts many of his tales from the music and broadcasting world.
His musical partnership with the late Robin Hall got them a five nights a week slot on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Tonight which was bringing in regular audiences of nine million and turned them into ‘stars’. The demise of the duo with Robin, gave Jimmie the opportunity to combine his music with his love of Scottish heritage and passion for the preservation and appreciation of the Scottish countryside. The extremely popular TV series on The West Highland Way was his first foray into being a presenter and led to a number of other TV shows in which Jimmie explored other walks around Scotland as well as more far-flung place like Canada, the USA and the Arctic. From that followed the successful and long-running Macgregor’s Gathering on Radio Scotland.
Tickets priced £10 for Jimmie Macgregor’s One Man Show, which starts at 7.30pm, are available from Joyce on 01294 551047. It would be wise to make sure of your ticket soon.
To coincide with Jimmie’s Show on 13th April, orders will be taken for a book which will be published in time for Marymass Folk Festival charting the 50 years of Irvine Folk Club & Marymass Folk Festival.
And finally, it was with sadness that news of the death of Sam Gaw was received. Sam will feature in the aforementioned book about the Club & Festival as he was one of the people who was in at the beginning of Irvine Folk Club. He attended the 40th Marymass Folk Festival but sadly was unable to be part of the 50th anniversary. The sympathy of Irvine Folk Club goes to Sam’s family. Sam’sfamily.

28th March – Hannah Rarity and Innes White

By all accounts, Hannah Rarity is the one to watch on the Scottish Folk scene and she is the special guest on Wednesday 28th March at Irvine Folk Club. This is a change to the scheduled Sean Donnelly.
Hannah, from Dechmont in West Lothian, won BBC Scotland’s Young Trad Musician of the Year competition in January, supported Cathal McConnell at a Celtic Connections concert, has toured internationally with Cherish the Ladies and also has done projects with the RSNO and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She has a voice that is clear, expressive and strong – but in a gentle way. Repeatedly in performance reviews, Hannah’s ability to connect with audiences is mentioned. She appeared in the BBC2 documentary ‘The Wayfaring Stranger’ screened last year and sang The Parting Glass to tremendous acclaim.
Hannah is a graduate of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where one of her tutors was the renowned Scots singer Rod Paterson. She released ‘Beginnings’ a six track EP in 2016 and has set up a crowd-funding site to help complete her debut album scheduled for release in September of this year. Hannah’s repertoire in the main is trad songs which she augments with some of her own material.
Along with a busy touring schedule – she is part of the month long Highland Blast Tour in Germany in November – as part of the Live Music Now charity set up by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Hannah along with Luc McNally take music to communities which don’t often experience live music eg Care Homes. Hannah has also put her name behind the Save Strings & Percussion tuition in West Lothian. This is a young woman passionate about music.
Hannah Rarity at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 28th March at 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre in Caldon Road – be there!

Forthcoming Concerts in Townhouse

As part of the 50th celebrations Irvine Folk Club
Jimmy McGregor
Songs, Stories and Famous Folk
in The Townhouse
Friday 13th April
7.30pm BYOB
Tickets £10 now on sale from Joyce

Also in
The Townhouse
Auld Hats, New Heids
Friday 27th April
in The Townhouse
7pm-9.30pm BYOB
Tickets £10 now on sale from Joyce