Nurturing talent at Stonehaven festival


The organisers of the 25th annual Stonehaven Folk Festival have pulled out all the stops to ensure this year’s event is one to remember.

The festival will run from Thursday, July 11, to Sunday, July 14, with a variety of musical acts at venues throughout the town.

The weekend festival started in 1989 with a series of concerts in the Town Hall and a number of fringe activities such as workshops, sessions and a Tradition Bearers singing concert.

The festival has grown over the years to include many more events such as the World Paper’n’Comb championships – a fun “competition” with a different theme each year and the unique Aqua Ceilidh held in the open air swimming pool. This year the organisers have placed an emphasis on highlighting some of the exciting new young talent alongside such well established artist such as Dougie MacLean from Scotland and Paul Brady from Ireland.

Dougie is well known as a singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and especially well known as the composer of the song Caledonia. In the 70’s Paul started with the supergroup Planxty before going on to establish a very successful solo career in America before returning to his roots back in Ireland. Amongst the new breed of up and coming talent are Rura – a five piece band featuring pipes, fiddle, bodhrán, guitar and vocals and including three BBC Young Tradition finalists; Zoe Bestel – the girl with the ukulele, a singer songwriter of amazing talent and depth of understanding with a repertoire of self penned songs covering a range of subjects often with an interesting twist. There will also be the North East Folk Collective led by Sharon Hassan – a group of 13-18 year olds with some amazing tunes and tight arrangements all ensuring the good health and future of Scottish folk music.

In addition to the concerts in the Town Hall there is also a full programme of activities on both the Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday there is, weather permitting, a concert in the square featuring festival artists and local singers and musicians. In case of rain the concert will be held in the Town Hall. At 12 noon in the Belvedere Hotel a tutor from Scottish Culture and Traditions will lead a slow session giving less experienced musicians a chance to learn some tunes and join in the fun. There will be a big sing-around during the afternoon with Danny Couper and Arthur Johnstone showcasing some of the best of traditional Scots song and singers and a series of hosted sessions and workshops throughout the afternoon. At 4 p.m. there will be the World Paper’n’Comb Championships with the theme of “Loud Shirts”, just about anything goes and fancy dress is optional.

The Sunday starts with the unique Aqua Ceilidh in the Art Deco open air pool. The pool has heated seawater so it is always at a pleasant temperature for dancing to the NE Folk Collective Ceilidh Band. This is followed by the Cowie Fringe in the nearby recreation club. This is a mix of festival artists and guests with additional fun things for kids of all ages to do rounded off with a fun family ceilidh. Also around the town there is the Tradition Bearers concert featuring four of the best traditional singers in the UK followed by the Chorus Cup – a fun competition to see who can get the loudest chorus. There will also be workshops with members of the band Breabach and sessions around the town.

Tickets are available on line from the Town Hall Trust web site or from Celtic Chords in Barclay Street Stonehaven.