Wednesday 3rd April will be a Singers Night at Irvine Folk Club.

Wednesday 3rd April will be a Singers Night at Irvine Folk Club.  It’s a change to the published programme and gives a welcome opportunity to that stalwart category – Floor Singers – to take centre stage.

Floor Singers are the backbone of any good Folk Music Club and over its 46 plus years, the Irvine Club has been blessed by having a steady stream of fine singers and musicians as well as the occasional poet and storyteller. The importance of Floor Singers cannot be overstated.

It’s one thing playing in the comfort and privacy of your own home: it’s quite another performing in front of real people and hats off to those brave enough to make the transition.  On Wednesday 3rd the Singers Night will be an informal night with many of the weel kent Floor Singers at Irvine taking part as well as some not so familiar.

The Singers Night at Irvine Folk Club starts at 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre, Quarry Road and it’s BYOB.

39th Girvan Folk Festival

Looking ahead, the 39th Girvan Folk Festival runs from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th May. They have a tried and tested formula – good singers and musicians playing at concerts and workshops and sessions galore in Girvan’s Hostelries. Ticket prices remain very good value and there’s a supervised campsite too.  All info on Girvan at

Looking further ahead, The Knockengorroch World Ceilidh festival takes place 23rd -26th May. The organisers’ description of the event says it’s ‘outrageously good fun’.  So, mark your diary and make your way to the Water of Deugh in the Carsphairn Hills for this amazing gathering!

Brian Peters on Wednesday 20th March

Brian Peters is ‘a singer, guitarist and melodeon player of rare ability’ according to the USA journal Dirty Linen and they’re always on the button with their assessments. Good news therefore that Brian is the guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th March.

Photo of Brian Peters playing concertina

One of England’s leading exponents of the Anglo Concertina, Brian is also a skilled player of the Button Accordion and Guitar. He is also has a fine singer.  Don’t think of him as a diehard traditionalist.  Modern songs of struggle or comedy feature in his live performances.  His book Rattle and Roll sees Brian unearthing tunes from centuries-old manuscripts and composing new tunes in trad style.  He also makes frequent forays into blues, ragtime and rock’n roll on his Squeezebox.  This all makes for a startling variety in the repertoire of Brian Peters.

He is in great demand as a teacher of Concertina, Melodeon, Guitar and Ballad Singing in the UK and the USA.  In addition, Brian does a lot of session work and as an Accordion player can be heard regularly on the TV cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.  Check it out!

Brian has eight solo CD’s to his name plus two recorded as part of a duo. He has, unsurprisingly, a busy touring schedule – the second half of April will see him in Eastern USA.

The Irvine Club is very fortunate to welcome back this talented all-rounder.  Hear Brian Peters at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th March at 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. You’ll not regret making the journey.

Maurice Dickson is the guest on Wednesday 6th March.

Maurice Dickson is the guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th March.  Belfast born Maurice is a talented musician and plays contemporary folk, Irish folk, blues as well as his own material.  Having started playing, singing and writing at fifteen, Maurice put together his first band at sixteen and then, three years later traded his engineer’s overalls for a life as a musician.  There followed almost five years of ‘touring’  Europe and North Africa, plying his craft and more importantly, soaking up many musical influences and gaining experience as a performer.  This period is reflected in his musical style which does not fit in any of the usual categories.

Suffice to say that he plays guitar like few others and has a stage presence all his own! Maurice has eight albums to his name and has started on a new one with Catherine Ashcroft. It is hoped that some sample tracks will be ready for May.

Writing, recording and touring in Ireland, England, Scotland, Holland, Denmark and the USA keeps Maurice busy. His mastery of the acoustic guitar coupled with his unique stagecraft style add up to making his live performances memorable. He also has a quirky sense of humour although some reckon that Maurice talks too much!

Guitar players of whatever standard will be keen to be at Irvine Folk Club to hear Maurice Dickson – asking themselves, ‘How does he do that?!’

Irvine Folk Club on 6th March starting at 8pm in Vineburgh Community Centre in Caldon Road.

Young Trad Musician of The Year at Irvine Burns Club

Finally, the Music Services Section of North Ayrshire Council held their annual Young Trad Musician of The Year at Irvine Burns Club this week with Irvine Royal Academy taking first place in both the Senior and Junior Sections.

Jemma Stirling of Irvine Royal won the Senior Section. Jemma plays Piano and Fiddle.  Scott Figgins of Greenwood Academy was Runner-Up  playing the Bagpipes.  The Junior Section was won by Jenna Stranaghan of Irvine Royal  with Runners-Up being Sarah Mooney and Jessica Thorpe.  It’s a credit to NAC that they continue to host this competition under the guidance  of Trad Music tutor Gillian Frame.

Luckenbooth is the guest band on Wednesday 20th February.

Luckenbooth is the guest band at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th February.  The four-piece, Lanarkshire based outfit based have played in Irvine before and have been well received.  The name Luckenbooth describes a brooch dating back to Mary Queen of Scots time and essentially is two entwined hearts. It was the equivalent of an engagement ring.  The band liked that background and called themselves Luckenbooth when they formed some thirteen years ago.

Luckenbooth are Christine on vocals, cello, whistle and percussion; Mhairi on fiddle, viola and vocals; Alex on guitar, mandolin, whistles and flute; Jim on guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and the occasional vocal.  The band plays mainly around Scotland’s central belt at Clubs and Festivals.  Whilst their repertoire is a mix of traditional and contemporary, the band tailors their set to suit the audience – and it’s worthwhile noting this, because not everyone has this amazingly obvious approach to what they play!  Luckenbooth like to get their audiences singing along and choose their choice of material reflects that.

Two of Luckenbooth come from classically trained background and the musical influences of the band include Ewan McColl, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Ossian, Jez Lowe and The Incredible String Band.

Therefore, for a night of easy-on-the-ear music, get along to Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 20th February at Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

North Ayrshire Trad Musician of The Year competition

Locally, the Music Service section of North Ayrshire Council hold the North Ayrshire Trad Musician of The Year competition at Irvine Burns Club. It takes place on Wed 20th February and starts at 7pm which of course is the same night as Luckenbooth at Irvine Folk Club. However, let’s celebrate all the interest in keeping music live!

Elsewhere, it’s good to recognise multi-instrumentalist Paddy Callaghan as BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Trad Musician for 2013.  Glasgow based Paddy won the prestigious competition at the recent Celtic Connections.

Kieran Halpin is the guest at Irvine Folk Club – Wed 6th February

Kieran Halpin is the special guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 6th February and that means it is in the ‘unmissable’ category for fans of live folk music.

Photo of Keiran Halpin with guitar
Keiran Halpin

A career that started in 1974, with 17 albums to his name, thousands of gigs played at venues all over the world, a prolific songwriter of great quality are the key musical facts about Mr 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.  All his live  gigs resonate with his compellingly powerful yet intimate and intense performance.

He plays acoustic guitar, regales the audience with explanations of where each song comes from and links it all together with some very funny asides.  He is a man of very, dry wit.

Kieran Halpin has played on a number of occasions at the Irvine Club.  He is always invited back because he is such a unique writer and performer.  Kieran is also one of the hardest working artists with upwards of 160 gigs each year with all the travelling that entails and still he finds time to write songs.

DON’T MISS what promises to be a very special night.

The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Ian Davison & Carissa Bovill – guests Wednesday 23rd January

Irvine Folk Club is fortunate indeed to be welcoming the fine duo of Ian Davison & Carissa Bovill as guests on Wednesday 23rd January.  It’s been too long since this very talented duo sang at the Irvine Club – but they are well worth the wait. Glaswegian Ian is frequently described as the songwriter’s songwriter. He has written over 260 songs, a number of which have been recorded by artists including Peggy Seeger, Adam McNaughtan and Brian McNeil and has 12 albums to his name.  The most recent one featured his most political songs and kicks off with ‘Mandela Danced’ – a song marking the amazing day that Nelson Mandela came to Glasgow and did indeed dance!

a poster with a picture of lan Davidson with dates for the Glasgow Festival of songwriting

Ian is a prolific and high quality songwriter. He writes emotional love songs, nostalgic songs about his home town, songs of peace and about war and humanity.   He has also written a number of songs for children. Ian also has extensive experience as a   songwriting tutor for secondary and special needs students.  Brian McNeil his long term friend and colleague, describing Ian’s songwriting says ’It’s done with rock hard conviction and delivered with a gentle authority that persuades as much as it harangues’.

With Ian will be Carissa Bovill.  She is a very talented singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and accompanist.  Music has been a dominant theme in her life since childhood. She started piano and fiddle lessons – classical and traditional – at age 8. Now with a Music Honours Degree from the RSAMD, she finds time to teach Scottish music and song to the Junior Section at the RSAMD at weekends.

PLEASE CONSIDER INVITING A FRIEND to visit the club with you.  Also, if you know anyone who lives locally and is interested in folk music, ask them for their email address and subscribe to the ‘news feed’ on the club website for them.  If they know who is coming, they might be tempted along.  if they don’t know, they may be stuck with Coronation Street.  You know it makes sense!

The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Red Hook Rapids are the first guests of 2013 at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 9th January.

A new band to the Irvine Club, this acoustic trio comes from the Inverness area and play a mix of folk, Americana and country. That said, up until the end of 2012, Red Hook Rapids was a duo!

Donald Forbes and Ally Macleod are the original Red Hook Rapids members.  They got together in Summer 2010 when Ally was recording a solo album Astor Place and Donald was the sound engineer. A shared devotion to a particular strand of American music ultimately resulted in Red Hook Rapids coming about.

Donald plays lead guitar and he and Ally share lead vocals.  They were both established singers and songwriters in their own right prior to teaming up as a duo. They share a love of strong harmonies and describe their music as folk with country influences playing a hybrid of British and American material.  They have one album to their name – Closer To Home – released in June last year.  Red Hook Rapids became a trio in December 2012 when guitarist Stewart Campbell joined them.

So, shake off any start-of-the-year blues and get along to Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre on Wednesday 9th January to hear Red Hook Rapids.  The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Finally, the 20th Celtic Connections bursts into life on 17th January and continues until 3rd February.  There is a huge guest list and umpteen venues so still time to make plans to mosey along and soak up the atmosphere.

GUESTS FOR 2013 published

Leaflets detailing Folk Club Guests for 2013 are available now.  Please collect some the next time you are at the club and distribute these to your friends.  Guests up to the end of May 2013 are:  Wed 9th Jan – Redhook Rapids, Wed 23rd Jan – Ian Davidson & Clarissa Bovill, Wed 6th Feb – Kieran Halpin, Wed 20th Feb – Luckenbooth, Wed 6th Mar – Maurice Dickson, Wed 20th Mar – Brian Peters, Wed 3rd Apr – Two Can Dan, Wed 17th Apr – Jed Grimes, Wed 1st May – Kent Duchaine, Wed 15th May – Barron Brady and Wed 28th May – My Sweet Patootie.

Looking ahead to the Summer, The 46th Marymass Folk Festival runs from Wed 21st – Sunday 25th August, 2013.

Alastair McDonald – Wednesday 12th December This will be a great night and last club night of the year – Don’t miss it.

The always popular Alastair McDonald will be the final Irvine Folk Club guest for 2012 when he tops the bill at the Club on Wednesday 12th December.

Alasdair McDonald at the UCS Concert
Alasdair McDonald at the UCS Concert at Celtic Connections.

Alastair is the folk-singing, jazz banjo player or the jazz banjo playing folk singer – it 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 – akin to the philosophy of the late Johnny Silvo. Performances by Alastair McDonald can be described by words like wholesome, helpful, uplifting, cautionary. Always he plays to entertain the audience.

Alastair is a very popular guest at the Irvine Club and you are advised to get along early on the 12th December to Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Please note, Irvine Folk Club starts up again on Wednesday 9th January with Redhook Rapids – there’s two of them!

Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland – Wednesday 28th November

The duo from Northern Ireland Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland fill the guest spot at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 28th November.  Fil is a singer and songwriter, her husband Tom is a fine percussionist and both are well known and respected musicians on the folk circuit. Fil has recently released her sixth CD A Place Of My Own. It is a collection of material first released in the 1930’s and 40’s by female singers. The album was produced by husband Tom.

Fil & Tom  have fairly lengthy links with Irvine Folk Club.  For those who have not heard them, prepare for a wide range of material from blues and folk and country to contemporary as well as self-penned stuff.  Fil does not have the classic modern female ‘folk’ voice.  It is much softer and less hard-edged. Tom is a talented multi-instrumentalist, backing vocalist and studio recording engineer.  His interest in percussion stretches to instruments from all over the world and his instruments include bodhran, congas, bongos, the African djembe…and really just about anything that can be hit or shaken!  Both Fil & Tom are involved with teaching music.

Be prepared to be entertained by the easy on the ear Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland  at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 28th November with some understated and subtle arrangements and  fine singing.

The Club meets in Vineburgh Community Centre, starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Elsewhere, The Star Folk Club is on the move. They will be flitting from  their present venue at The Saints  to basement of The Admiral in Waterloo Street. The first night there is Tuesday 12th February. The Admiral is just five minutes from Glasgow Central and yes, The Star will be meeting on Tuesday nights at The Admiral.

Finally, Martin Fay – one of the founder members of The Chieftains – has died. Martin played fiddle for almost 40 years with the band.