With sadness we report the death of Brendan Duffy, former MC at Irvine Folk Club

News of the untimely death of Brendan Duffy has been received with much sadness. Brendan was a former MC at Irvine Folk Club, particularly in Redburn Hotel days and worked as a Planner at Perceton House with Irvine Development Corporation.  He took ‘laid-back-ness’ to new levels. It was almost routine for Brendan to ask whilst MCing ‘What was it that I was to remember to say?’  He loved the craic and the camarederie that folk music brought and was himself a fine singer – but he didn’t think so.

In recent years, Brendan coped with deteriorating health in a ‘let’s get on with it’ style. Having spent much of his retirement with his wife in Northern Ireland, they had  been living in Kilmarnock for several months to be nearer to their son and daughter and their families. Brendan died peacefully at home in Kilmarnock on Wednesday 15th May and is survived by his wife Maureen and their son Ciaran and daughter Siobhan. The sympathy of everyone at Irvine Folk Club goes to Maureen and the family. Brendan is fondly remembered.

Barron Brady – Wednesday 15 May

Simon Barron and Rosalind Brady, funnily enough, are Barron Brady – the special guests at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 15th May.  Described by Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 as having a beautiful sound, this will be the first visit of Barron Brady to the Irvine Club.

Having begun performing across the UK five years ago, Barron Brady have received  consistently  good reviews, with Festival and Club organisers impressed with the duo’s innovative arrangements, well crafted self-penned songs and strong vocal harmonies.

Simon and Rosalind live in Devon and the Irvine Club is included in their Spring Northern Tour – but then from Devon it’s almost always going to be north!  They are contemporary songwriters and also interpreters of English folk song. As well as being strong vocalists, Ros plays the harmonium and whistle and Simon excels on fingerstyle guitar.  Barron Brady have recorded three albums with Karen Polwart being just one of the people taking to print as a fan of their sound.

The young, enthusiastic and talented Barron Brady are at Irvine Folk Club on 15th May in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road. The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB.

Kent DuChaine – guest on Wed 1st May

Kent DuChaine the nomadic Bluesman from Minnesota is back at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 1st May. His abundant energy and enthusiasm means there is no chance of nodding off when he is playing.  Kent’s guitar playing is exceptional and combined with the power of his voice and his passion for the Blues means it’s a night not to be missed at the Irvine Club.

Kent’s potted history is: born in Wayzata, Minnesota; formed a garage band at 13; reading Eric Clapton album notes led him to check out a Robert Johnson album at his local library.  So taken aback by the album, he almost wore it out listening to it ….the music of the Mississippi Delta had captured him.

In 1969 Kent learned to play slide guitar and ten years later he found his beloved Leadbessie – ‘a beat-up 1934 National Steel Guitar’ as he describes her. It’s kitted out with extra heavy strings to cope with his ferocious style and there is now a whole lot of gaffer tape on Leadbessie as well!  The name Leadbessie is an affectionate amalgam of Blues legends Leadbelly and Bessie Smith.

Kent lives to spread the Blues and has clocked up countless thousands of miles and close on 100 overseas tours from his South Georgia base in the USA.  Songs about Kent’s youth, his adventures, family and friends are linked by frank anecdotes in true troubadour style.

He always brings something of his own interpretation to covers of standards such as Little Red Rooster, St James Infirmary, I’ll Be True To You or Trouble in Mind. His set is a far cry from ‘ well I woke up this morning’!!  He will also likely include some of his own compositions. His intricate, finger-picking slide-guitar and use of his hand as a handhammer beat, all contribute to the sheer intensity of a Kent DuChaine performance.

Wednesday 1st May is a night for Blues fans to enjoy a masterclass at Irvine Folk Club when Kent DuChaine tops the bill.

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

Jed Grimes – guest on Wednesday 17th April.

Described by some as the North East’s secret weapon, Jed Grimes is the special guest at Irvine Folk Club on Wednesday 17th April. His name, though familiar to many, is probably difficult to place. That’s probably because he is a seasoned veteran having played in a number of line-ups.

Photo of Jed Grimes with guitar

Jed Grimes hails from the North East of England and is a singer, guitarist and arranger of some quality….mhe also likes to paint and does printmaking too!  He was part of the renowned Hedgehog Pie which developed as part of the flourishing folk scene in the North East in the ‘70s. Jed then moved on to be a member of the successful Doonan Family – a band that played at Marymass all those years ago.

Jed then formed a six-piece band called The Hush which went on to be nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award with their acclaimed album Dark To The Sky. In more recent times, Jed plays solo and also as part of a duo with Bob Thomas.  Jed’s recent solo CD Head On has received rave reviews.

On 17th April at Irvine, expect to hear traditional songs and tunes from the UK, country blues and some contemporary material.  His ready wit and easy rapport with audiences are illustrated in his favourite quote – ‘Was anything ok?’!

For versatile and exciting musicianship from this assured performer, get along to Irvine Folk Club in Vineburgh Community Centre in Quarry Road on Wednesday 17th April.

The Club starts at 8pm and it’s BYOB…and there’s a cafe.

Out and about ….

Elsewhere, Glenfarg Folk Festival takes place from 12th – 14th April. Karine Polwart closes the annual celebration in lovely Glenfarg.  What’s described as ‘a feast of authentic Scottish culture’ starts in Edinburgh (where else!!) on 24th April and continues until 6th May.  The headquarters of this event is in The Storytelling Centre in the High Street and includes song, music, dance, crafts and of course storytelling.  So much to do, so little time!

Help us spread the news: The 46th Marymass Folk Festival, Wed 21st – Sun 25th Aug

This information about Marymass has been added to the website.  In response to discussion at the AGM, this is a reminder to all members and friends to start to get the word out about the festival.  To paraphrase what Danny Kyle might say “Tell your Gran, your friends, eveyone you meet that the Marymass Folk Festival is the place to be this August.  It’s going to be great, mega …  be there!”

The 46th Marymass Folk Festival, 2013

Wednesday 21st – Sunday 25th August… on the picturesque Clyde Coast opposite Arran lies Irvine…. it’s a 30 minute train journey from Glasgow.

There are concerts, sessions, an open stage competition, events in schools, community concerts and not forgetting two World Championships – the amazing Whammy-Diddling and the even more amazing Chuckie-Chucking.

Artists booked so far are – Wendy Arrowsmith; Celine Donoghue & Neil Sturgeon; Emma Durkin; Nick Keir; The Paul McKenna Band; The Stavanger Harbour Band; Bram Taylor

Umpteen good reasons therefore to come to Irvine in the third week in August…..and we haven’t even mentioned the other attractions happening in the town at that time – a Horse-Drawn Parade, Fireworks Display, Flower Show, local Football Derby, 10K Road Race, Heritage Tours……..

Irvine in August – come and join us!

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.