Veteran troubadour Alastair McDonald is the guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 8th May. He has played in Irvine so often that he nearly has the vote!
Alastair is the folk-singing, jazz banjo player or the jazz banjo playing folk singer – it all depends where he’s appearing! He is equally at home in folk clubs, jazz venues, theatres, concert halls or churches. His TV and Radio appearances are too numerous to mention and likewise the number of albums he has recorded. Suffice to say that since becoming a fulltime performer in 1970, Alastair has built up a successful career in Scotland and globally too.
Glasgow born Alastair emigrated with his family at the age of eight to Australia. It was while growing up in the Australian outback that he developed an interest in ‘home made’ entertainment. Returning to Scotland four years later, there was a growing pop scene and skiffle had also arrived. At just 21, Alastair was already regarded as one of the leading jazz banjo players.
As years passed Alastair’s musical horizons extended and took him into variety shows, pantos, plays, TV and Radio work. His continued popularity is down to his commitment to entertain. Performances by Alastair McDonald can be described by words like wholesome, uplifting and entertaining. He likes humorous material and Matt McGinn’s terrific song Sam the Skull often features in Alastair’s playlist.
Hear Alastair at the Irvine Club on the 8th May at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.
Elsewhere, this coming weekend being the May holiday means that many roads will lead to Girvan for the annual folk festival. Whilst the emphasis is on traditional music, there is a lot more besides so it’s well worth checking out the programme online.
Wednesday 1st May
Funeral Celebration of Malky’s life in The Park Hotel, Rugby Park, Kilmarnock KA21 2DP
Cremation at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium, Dreghorn, Irvine KA11 4EF
Topping the bill at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 24th April is Wildwood Jack. This will be their first appearance in Irvine and it may be of particular interest to budding ukulele players!
Wildwood Jack are Jayne Freeman and Alan Piggott from Kent. They met at university and started a shared musical journey which has continued. They play ukulele and acoustic guitar with their fingerstyle playing being described as outstanding. Their repertoire of songs and instrumentals reflects their main musical influences of folk, country and world music.
In 2013 Jayne and Alan sold their home and have travelled extensively playing at folk clubs and festivals, touring village halls and churches in Denmark and busking in Croatia and Italy. In between their travels they have released three albums, the most recent being Liberty Ship last year.
Currently, Wildwood Jack are on a Spring Tour and as well as the Irvine Club, other Scottish venues have included Tayvallich, Ullapool, Inverness and Edinburgh.
Wildwood Jack a new sound for Irvine Folk Club. Hear the duo on 24th April at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.
Elsewhere, Girvan Folk Festival is on from Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th May. There are concerts, a number of informal sessions, a Big Sing, a Songwriters Concert plus storytelling. Artists are many and include Brian Miller, Colum Sands, Mike Vass, Bob Fox, Cathal McConnell and Fiona & Heather Heywood. Full details at girvantraditionalfolkfestival.org or just go!
Just heard this morning that a good friend of Irvine Folk Club and Marymass Folk Festival Malky McCormick sadly passed away last night. Malky had been ill for a couple of years and was in a care home in Ayr. Will publish details of Malky’s funeral when known.
On Wednesday 10th April in a change to the scheduled top-of-the-bill, Wilson McGladdery will be the special guests – there’s two of them! Due to illness, the date for Catherine Craig & Brian Willoughby has had to be re-scheduled.
Gaynor Wilson & Paul McGladdery have each performed as solo artists and with bands. Five years ago, after meeting through fellow musicians, they realised that their voices blended well together and they were both keen on promoting original songs rather than covering well-known material. The duo have built up a healthy gig list in that five years, playing the length and breadth of England with occasional forays into Scotland.
They both live in Saddleworth in Oldham. Gaynor plays violin, piano and recorder but is best known for her powerful vocals. She really enjoys acoustic singing. Paul is a guitarist known for his prolific songwriting that reflects musical influences from folk to country to classic pop. His first love is writing ballads. Their most recent single Beans on Toast is available electronically and it’s a love song.
Wednesday 10th April, Wilson McGladdery at Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road starts at 8pm.
Elsewhere, the Hannah Rarity Band plays at The Star in Glasgow on 16th April. It’s Hannah plus three fine musicians and will be well worth a listen.
And finally, the audience at Irvine Folk Club last week had yet another terrific night with Davie Craig with Rab Noakes as special guests. The skilled songwriting of Rab and the songs, stories and harmonies of both of them made for a first class night.
Catherine Craig and Brian Willoughby are due to play Irvine Folk Club on 10th April. Unfortunately Catherine has been ill and on medical advice has had to cancel this gig. We will have them back at a later date.
The top bill for 10th April is now
A change to the scheduled guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 27th March means that the special guests will be Davie Craig with Rab Noakes. Not too shabby a replacement!
Davie & Rab go back a wheen of years to when High Speed Grass – a legendary band in its time – founded by Davie, would on occasion get Rab to fill in on vocals. Both Davie and Rab were Fifers and High Speed Grass was a product of The Great Fife Roadshow.
Davie plays fiddle and guitar and sings. He is well known on the Americana music scene. As well as the aforementioned High Speed Grass, Davie’s other bands included the Honky Tonk Ceilidh Band and The Streets of Raith! Clearly a man with a sense of humour.
Welcome to Anniversaryville released in 2018 marked 50 years of songwriting and singing for Rab. In 2017 he was awarded The Tartan Clef for his contribution to music. He was Head of Entertainment at BBC Radio Scotland, is on the Executive Committee of the Musicians Union and for all the successes of his music career – including collaborations with Kathleen MacInness and Barbara Dickson and having a pivotal role in tribute productions to Michael Marra and Gerry Rafferty, Rab remains a modest man.
On Wednesday 27th March at Irvine Folk Club it’s your chance to hear two Fifers – Davie Craig with Rab Noakes. The Club starts at 8p, it’s BYOB and it all happens at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. And finally, it would be remiss not to mention the terrific set that Jez Lowe played at the Irvine Club last week. An exceptional performer – even though he was nursing a Cold.
Members will be saddened to hear of the death of one of our faithful long time members – George Jackson.
Although he had become increasingly frail his death was sudden and unexpected. We will remember his canny wit. The funeral will take place on Friday 15th March at 10.30am in St Mary’s, Saltcoats. There will be a funeral tea in the hall at 11.30am and Dori would be happy if some of Irvine Folk Club members could attend. She says parking is best in Sainsbury’s.
Jez Lowe is back at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 13th March and it will be good to hear him again. He is one of the busiest, most popular and respected performers on the folk scene and it’s good that Irvine is included in his current UK Tour. And just in case you read his gig list, the Vineburgh has not changed its name to the Vineyard!
Born and raised in the coal mining community of Easington in County Durham, Jez has been playing since the early 70’s. His vitality and simplicity of style accompanied by a driving guitar and engaging humour are just some of the reasons for the enduring popularity of Jez Lowe. He also plays mandocello and a prize if have you ever seen him not wear a stripey Tshirt on stage!
He is a prolific songwriter and Richard Thomson rates Jez as the best contemporary English songwriter. A number of his songs address the economic distress suffered by the North Country as a result of the decline of the coal industry and the ensuing social repercussions. His songs can be heard in all corners of the world and artists of the calibre of Fairport Convention, Cherish the Ladies, The Dubliners and The Tannahills have all recorded Jez’s material.
As well as doing busy solo tours, Jez also sometimes plays with his band The Bad Pennies and does a number of collaborations with the likes of The Pitmen Poets, The Broonzies, James Keelaghan, Archie Fisher and Steve Tiltson. And, in between all of that, he is in the throes of completing his second novel. If you were listening to Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 2 last month, you may have heard Jez singing on the featured Ballads of Child Migration programme. A busy man with bucketloads of energy.
Jez has played in Irvine on a number of occasions sometimes solo and sometimes with his backing band The Bad Pennies. For anyone who has not heard him, go along to the Irvine Club on the 13th March. With Jez Lowe topping the bill, you will not be disappointed.
Irvine Folk Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road at 8pm and it’s BYOB plus there’s a good café!
Special guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 27th February are the talented trio Other Roads. Known for their great harmonies and arrangements, Other Roads are on a UK tour before spending the second half of March touring Denmark.
Pete Abbot, Gregor Borland and Dave Walmisley are Other Roads. Their choice of material draws on their diverse backgrounds: one is an Englishman, one is a Scot who now lives in Spain and the other spent the first 17 years of his life in Zimbabwe before moving to the UK.
The band’s driving force is Pete Abbot. He plays guitar, does lead vocals and is also a songwriter. For Pete, the emphasis is always on entertainment and ensuring that the audience has a good time. Inverness born Gregor Borland is a Master Fiddler having been Scottish Fiddle Champion eight times. He has played with Burach and The Sandy Brechin Band with whom he toured Colombia, Australia and Russia and he also teaches Fiddle around the world. Dave Walmisley is a talented multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. He sometimes takes lead vocals and has a fine ear for harmonies.
Other Roads have seven CDs to their name, travel extensively in the UK, Europe and New Zealand and are known for their sensitive interpretation of well-known songs – trad or contemporary – interspersed with jigs and reels led by Gregor plus some original compositions.
Other Roads at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 27th February at Vineburgh Community Centre, Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and is open to everyone, not just Club members. However, by investing £15 and becoming a member, as well as supporting the Club, it brings a £2 reduction in the admission fee. A bargain.