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.

11th October – Maria Dunn and Shannon Johnston

Irvine Folk Club first heard Maria Dunn & Shannon Johnson two years ago and they were terrific. The excellent news is that they are back at the Irvine Club to top the bill on Wednesday 11th October. It’s part of the duo’s month long UK tour.
Both are based in Alberta in Canada and the UK tour will feature songs from Maria Dunn’s sixth album – Gathering. One reviewer has described it as essential listening and that figures as the album was nominated in the 2017 Juno awards in the Trad Roots Album of the year category.
Maria Dunn was born in Scotland but moved to Ontario with her parents as a young child. She plays guitar, accordion and whistle and her playing can move seamlessly from folk to bluegrass to country. Based in Edmonton in Alberta, Maria has a formidable songwriting talent. Many of her songs reflect the resilience and grace of ‘ordinary’ people. Her song about the quiet courage of families supporting their children with disabilities being just one example. Maria’s hope is that her songs will make for a more compassionate take on today’s world.
All of Maria’s albums have been produced by Shannon Johnson, one of Western Canada’s most-in-demand record producers. Shannon is an exceptional violinist and has won many violin and fiddle awards at national and international level. Along with her two brothers, she is a member of The McDades: a well-established and much respected band in Canada and in Europe. Shannon also has an excellent voice and is said to have a raucous sense of humour.
Maria Dunn & Shannon Johnson are in the not-to-be-missed category, so make sure you are in the Irvine Folk Club audience on Wednesday 11th October to hear them. The Club starts at 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road, it’s BYOB and there’s a Café.
Finally, it was with great sadness that news was received of the death of Dick McAllister. Dick was a faithful supporter of Irvine Folk Club and Marymass Folk Festival. Along with his wife Maureen and Willie Sinclair he was a member of the Gaitherers in which he did vocals and played the guitar and of course his beloved banjo. Jokes about banjo players are many and Dick took them all in good part sometimes himself regaling audiences with new ones he had heard! He was also a frequent and able MC at the Club and Festival. Dick refused to let a cancer diagnosis blight his life and his spirited and dogged determination to keep on going is something that will live long in the memory. At the Club last week in tribute to Dick, Dominic Boyce led the audience in What’s the life of a man followed by a heartfelt minute’s applause. The sympathy of everyone at Irvine Folk Club goes to Maureen and the family.

Dicks Funeral

Dicks funeral will take place at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium on Friday October 6th at 1pm thereafter to Marress Sports Ground. Shona asks that you bring instruments and make plenty of music and noise. Dress code informal. Lets give ‘Dick the Banjo’ the send off he deserves.

Sad News

Dick McAllister passed away last night after an illness borne with great courage and determination. Dick was determined to MC the Thursday Night Concert and the Seniors Concert at Marymass and he managed it. He enjoyed Marymass and it was good to see him happy although we all knew he was struggling. A faithful member of Irvine Folk Club for many years – he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go to Maureen and the family.

You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want:
Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

Marymass 50 Concert: The Johnny Silvo Story – The Townhouse, Irvine. Friday 27th October, 7.30pm

The confirmed date for the first of our special Marymass50 Concerts in the Townhouse is FRIDAY 27th October, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8, available from Joyce at the Folk Club, or on-line. We can now announce that the main ‘storyteller’ for this evening will be Alastair McDonald. Please tell your friends about this concert. It will be a wonderful evening.