Fife Traditional Singing Festival
FifeSing2017: The Fife Traditional Singing Festival
Friday to Sunday 12, 13, 14, May 2017

The Fife Traditional Singing Festival
FifeSing is held annually on the weekend following the
second Wednesday in May

The Lomond Hills in Fife with historic Falkland just visible.

Click here for last year's programme FifeSing 2015
Click here for more Pics

Programme for FifeSing 2016
Updated version dated 3 March 2016

Booking Form
Click and print out PDF using Adobe Reader:

Click for Full brochure PDF

Guest Singers for FifeSing2016
arranged so far:
Jim & Kate Taylor (Skene, Aberdeenshire)
Pete Coe (Yorkshire)
Chris Hendry (Originally St Andrews, Fife and now Northumberland) and Johnny Handle (Northumberland)
Cathal McConnell (Ireland and Edinburgh)
Alex Clarke (Dundee)
with contributions from the hosts of the weekend:
Jimmy Hutchison (Newburgh)
and Chris Miles (Kirkcaldy) with Pete Shepheard (Balmalcolm, Fife) treated this year as a guest
and workshops from some of the above.

Old Songs on Sound Cloud

Old Songs on fifesing/ soundcloud

FifeSing 2016 Guest List

This year we welcome as guests Jim & Kate Taylor from Skene in Aberdeenshire - both with extensive repertoires of old songs and bothy ballads of the northeast. From Riponden in Yorkshire we welcome Pete Coe who has been involved in many aspects of the folk music scene as musician, singer, collector, dancer and teacher for the last half century. Pete will also be giving a workshop on the song collector Frank Kidson. Originally from St Andrews, Fife we welcome a fine singer and old friend Chris Hendry. We will also be joined by Christine's husband Johnny Handle who will also be presenting a workshop on Newcastle songs. We are honoured to have with us flute player, tin whistler and traditional singer Cathal McConnell of The Boys of the Lough - one of the best-loved performers in the world of Celtic music. Alex Clarke makes a return visit with his repertoire of Dundee songs and tales. This year we will also be giving guest status to committee member Pete Shepheard - founder member of the TMSA, singer and musician whose repertoire of songs has been gleaned from traditional singers over many years.

All guests Friday to Sunday unless stated.
[Click names for more info]

Historic Falkland

Our new venue: Falkland, Fife

Historic Falkland in the heart of the ancient Kingdom of Fife. Most events will take place on the Old Town Hall opposite Falkland Palace. Saturday evening Traditional Concert will be in the Falkland Village Hall. Late sessions will be in the Bruce Inn.

The village of Falkland in the ancient Kingdom of Fife
Falkland lies against the north slopes of the Lomond Hills in the ancient Kingdom of Fife on the A912. The nearest station is at Ladybank (4 miles) on the main line from Edinburgh to Dundee. Taxi (tel: 01337 858722).
Click map for for larger scale or click HERE to download the same map. A more useful street map that will be available on arrival is also available by clicking Falkland Plan.

Restaurant: Food and Bar Facilities
Falkland is well provided with places to eat: The Bruce Inn, The Covenanters, Lomond Inn, The Hay Loft, Kynd Kyttocks, Campbells. Wonderful coffee from the Fayre Earth in the square.

Accommodation & Camping
There are numerous local hotels and B&Bs - see list below. Camping on the Falkland Estate with water and toilet facilities (straight on beyond Falkland Centre for Stewardship) - for Tents and smaller Campervans (up to 7 metres - we think). For larger Campervans and Caravans see below. Camping will be charged at £15 per tent or campervan for the weekend or £12 for one night. There is also camping available at Pillars of Hercules with shower block (bookable).

Caravans & Larger Campers
We have arranged provision of hard standing for caravans and larger campervans at Smith Anderson/ St John's Works at the top of Cross Wynd & East Loan - with Portaloo (#18 on the Falkland Plan CLICK Falkland Plan to PRINT). This site is at the foot of the fields sloping down from the Lomond Hills and within a couple of minutes stroll to the town centre. Charged at £15 per Campervan or Caravan. Let us know your Campervan/ Caravan size when booking.

If you would like to book in to a fully equipped caravan park the following can be recommended. Markinch: Balbirnie Caravan Park (5 miles) tel: 01337 857226 or Auchtermuchty: The Clink (4 miles) tel: 01337 828497.

Hotel and B&B Accommodation

Prices are taken from the websites per person per night.
It is worth asking for reduced rates for 2 or more nights.

Falkland: The Bruce Inn (£75double) tel: 01337 857226

Falkand: The Covenanter Hotel (£95double)tel: 01337 857163

Freuchie (2 miles): Lomond Hills Hotel (£70pppn) tel: 01337 857329

Newton of Falkland (1 mile): Kiln House B&B (£35pppn) tel: 01337 857118

Ladybank (5 miles): Redlands Country Lodge (£85pppn) tel: 01337 831091

Holiday Cottages

Falkland: Courtside Holiday Cottage (£variable) tel: 01337 857254

Falkland: The Hayloft (£130 - 2 nights)

Other Accommodation: RoomFinder

or search on AirBnB

Auchtermuchty (4 miles): Redwood Cottage (£30pppn) tel: 01337 828272

Strathmiglo: (2 miles): Gorno Grove House (£40pppn) tel: 01337 860483

Newburgh (7 miles): Taypearls and Scottish Cottages

Gateside (5 miles): Edenshead Stables (£45pppn) tel: 01337 868500

Cupar (12 miles): Wester Dura (£40pppn) tel: 01334 65077

Glenrothes (10 miles): Holiday Inn (£49pppn) (see web offers)
or Laurelbank Hotel (£65 double) tel: 01592 611205


Saturday morning 10.00 am
Pete Coe:
From Leeds to Glasgow in search of Frank Kidson's Collection.

Saturday morning 11.30 am
Cathal McConnell:
Jimmy Hutchison talks with Cathal about his music and his songs.

Sunday morning 10.30 am
Johnny Handle:
Newcastle Songs - the singers, the songs and their social and historic background.

Sunday 12.00 midday
Alex Clarke:
A Dundee Life (Revisited) - The Hilltown, the jute mills, daft songs, Will Fyffe, William McGonagall, Scottish dance, the butcher's shop and his granny Clarke's memories of the fall of the Tay Bridge.

The Programme

VENUE: Most events will take place in the Old Town Hall (upstairs) in the main street opposite Falkland Palace. Some refreshments (tea, coffee) will be available in the venue. If you wish to have other drink in the hall please bring this with you - especially for the Friday Gathering where seats will be around tables. Evening singarounds on the Friday and Saturday (from 10.30 pm) will be in back room of the Bruce Inn with late licence till 1.00 am. The Traditional Concert on Saturday evening will be a larger event and will take place in the Falkland Village Hall.

Friday 13th May
The Gathering: 8.00pm - 10.30pm
This year the opening event will be more of a singaround than a concert with songs and ballads from the guest artistes and participants - continuing as:
Singaround (Back room of The Bruce): 10.30pm - 12.30am
An opportunity for more songs, some music and a bar till midnight.

Saturday14th May
Illustrated Talk: 10.00am - 11.00am
Pete Coe: From Leeds to Glasgow in search of Frank Kidson's Collection.
Interview: 11.30am - 12.30pm
Cathal McConnell: Jimmy Hutchison talks with Cathal about his music, his love of traditional song, the singers and musicians he has known and the songs he sings.
Ballad Concert: 2.00pm - 5.00pm
The guests and participants with traditional ballads from their repertoire. The classic big ballads - the muckle sangs.
Traditional Concert (Falkland Village Hall): 7.30pm - 10.00pm
Old Songs & Bothy Ballads from the FifeSing Guests.
Singaround (Back room of The Bruce): 10.30pm - 12.30am
Another chance for all to join in a singaround with songs from their own repertoire.

Sunday 15th May
Illustrated Talk: 10.30am - 11.30am
Johnny Handle: Newcastle Songs - the singers, the songs and their social and historic background.
Reminiscences: 12.00midday - 1.00pm
Alex Clarke: A Dundee Life (Revisited) - The Hilltown, the jute mills, daft songs, Will Fyffe, William McGonagall, Scottish dance, the butcher's shop and his granny Clarke's memories of the fall of the Tay Bridge.
Farewell Concert: 2.30pm - 4.30pm
The guest artistes lead a farewell concert.

Ticket Prices

All-In Ticket (Friday to Sunday): £36 (£32)
Friday Evening Gathering: £12 (£10)
All day Saturday & Evening Concert: £20 (£16)
Saturday morning Workshops/Talks: £8 (£6)
Saturday Ballad Concert: £8 (£6)
Saturday Evening Concert: £12 £10)
All day Sunday: £12 (£10)
Sunday morning Workshops/Talks: £8 (£6)
Sunday Farewell Concert: £10 (£8)

Concession prices in brackets are for Senior Citizens, Students & Unwaged.

Cheques payable to East of Scotland Traditional Song Group by post to the address below. If possible, please use the booking form - download a pdf file by clicking on the words
Booking Form
and print out using Adobe Reader:

Click for Full brochure PDF

Download: Falkland Plan
Download: Falkland Google Map
Click words to download PDF


Click on photos for a high definition version. For publicity purposes open in a new tab.

Jim and Kate Taylor:
Jim Taylor was born near Garlogie where he still lives, and is a retired Quantity Surveyor. A nephew of the late King of the Bothy Ballads, Tam Reid, Jim is keeping Tam's songs going as well as a few others. He is in great demand as a compere, which allows his native North East humour to shine through, and he has been a guest at several singing festivals throughout the UK and Ireland.


Kate Taylor started singing at the tender age of 40 and has not stopped since. She is passionately fond of traditional singing and has been influenced mainly by Sheila Stewart, Elizabeth Stewart and Jane Turriff. Kate is a member of the Aberdeen Folk Club and the Aberdeen Branch of the TMSA, and she has also been a guest at several folk festivals and singing weekends.


Pete Coe
Pete Coe lives in Ripponden near Halifax. He first became inspired by traditional singing when he went to the local folk club when he was at collecge in Cheltenham: "The first night I went along, the guest was Louis Killen and he sang these wonderful songs and played this funny thing – a concertina. I’d never heard a Geordie at all – couldn’t understand a word but I thought these were wonderful tunes and from that night on I was hooked." Pete later ran the Halifax Traditions Festival has had extensive appearances at clubs and festivals up and down the country as singer and musician. He is also an expert dancer, step dancer and dance caller. He has made important contributions to song collecting - notably from the Cornish traveller Betsy Renals.

Workshop (Saturday): From Leeds to Glasgow in search of Frank Kidson's Collection.

Frank Kidson (1855 -1926) was born in Leeds. The singing of his mother Mary ignited his interest in old airs and songs from the oral tradition. The more manuscripts and published works of folk music that Kidson amassed, the more it appeared that the airs familiar to him from childhood did not appear anywhere in print and he took on the task of documenting this music from the oral tradition with antiquarian values and precision. In 1930, Kidson’s nine thousand book collection was finally purchased and moved to The Mitchell Library, Glasgow and between 1938-49, four hundred more printed volumes and 114 manuscripts followed. Pete Coe has made it his mission to explore Frank Kidson's largely forgatten legacy.

Pete Coe

Chris Hendry & Johnny Handle
Chris Hendry is a Scottish singer who learnt many of her songs first hand from such important source singers as Jeannie Robertson, Norman Kennedy and the Stewart family. As a teenager in the early 1960s she became part of the Fife folk club scene, based at St. Andrews, and was recorded by Hamish Henderson for the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh. Later moving to North East England to study and teach, Chris joined the team of residents at the prestigious Folksong and Ballad Club Newcastle. After working in the south of England, and performing regularly at Oxford and Bristol, she returned to Tyneside/ Northumberland where she now lives with her husband, Johnny Handle. Regarded as one of the best singers in the region, Chris has a wide repertoire of material from the old ballads to farming and industrial songs.

Chris Hendry

The High Level Ranters
Tommy Gilfellon, Colin Ross, Johnny Handle, Alastair Anderson
Johnny Handle
Johnny Handle was born in Wallsend-on-Tyne in 1935. Although he started work in the pits when he left school he had been in the school trad jazz band and he soon became involved in dance halls, concert parties and pub piano gigs. He had also become proficient on various other instruments including guitar, banjo, bass and played trumpet at Winlaton Mill village dance and he started his own trad jazz band - The Levee Ramblers. In 1958 Johnny met folksinger Louis Killen and enthused by the revival of folk music, they started the Folksong & Ballad Club in Newcastle. During 1961 his musical interests took him into the world of television and he met up with Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and AL Lloyd whilst producing and performing in various radio and TV projects. Soon he was playing melodeon, accordion and Northumbrian pipes and, in 1965, as well as starting teacher training, he formed the High Level Ranters folk group. Johnny and Chris are regular guests at the great Whitby Folk Week.

Johnny will be presenting a workshop on Sunday morning:
Newcastle Songs - the singers, the songs and their social and historic background.

Johnny Handle

Cathal McConnell
Flute player, tin whistler and singer Cathal McConnell of The Boys of the Lough is one of the best-loved performers in the world of Celtic music. A true character in every sense of the word, McConnell’s free spirit and mercurial stage presence have helped make The Boys of the Lough one of the most popular and longest-running groups on the folk circuit. His instrumental skills have sometimes masked the fact that Cathal is a fine traditional singer. His decades of singing and collecting are reflected in his large repertoire which includes long ballads and serious songs, as well as some more humorous pieces. We are honoured that he has accepted our invitation to be with us at FifeSing2016.

Born in Bellinaleck, County Fermanagh, N. Ireland in 1944, McConnell traces flute playing back through four generations in his family. Encouraged by his father, he was playing tin whistle at age eleven and at age fifteen took up the flute. In 1962, he won the All-Ireland championship on both the flute and tin whistle. As a musician, Cathal defies easy categorization. He is equal parts modern virtuoso and old-time roots musician. On the one hand, he is capable of stopping a show with dazzling displays of technical virtuosity. On the other hand, he can render an old ballad or tune with a poignancy reminiscent of the great fireside musicians of the past. Sometimes serious and sometimes zany, McConnell is always full of surprises yet his experimental side is balanced by a deep love for and commitment to the tradition.

Website: Cathal McConnell
YouTube: Custy's Music Session

Pete Shepheard
Pete is a singer, musician and folksong collector. A founder member of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA) in the mid 1960s, his enthusiasm as a singer and collector resulted in the creation of Springthyme Records in the 1970s specialising in the release of recordings of Scottish traditional song and music. Pete has recorded two CDs as a member of Shepheard, Spiers & Watson. His contacts with the Scottish traveller traditions of the Stewarts of Blairgowrie and Jeannie Robertson's family in Aberdeen led to exploration of traveller tradition in Ireland and England as well as Scotland. He has presented lectures and workshops based on his song collecting, on ballad repertoire in the living tradition, traditional singing style, song repertoire among the Romany gypsies in Gloucestershire and among the Scottish travelling and farming communities in Fife, Tayside and Aberdeenshire.

Peter Shepheard
Springthyme Records
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson
CD1: They Smiled as We Cam In
CD2: Over The High Hills
Alex Clarke
We are very pleased to welcome a return visit by Alex Clarke with his repertoire of Dundee songs and tales (for Saturday and Sunday). Alex was brought up in a tenement just off Dundee’s Hilltown - hence his signature song - We’re the lads fae the tap o the hill. His mother was a weaver in the jute mills as was his granny, his father an engineer. As a boy he started out singing Harry Lauder songs and was soon singing in concert parties. He was taught Highland dancing as a boy and later took up Scottish dancing, forming his own troupe for shows with Robert Wilson and Andy Stewart and appearing with the White Heather Club. His granny Clarke was a source of songs and old stories of Dundee, of McGonagall and the fall of the Tay Bridge. He was first ‘discovered’ by Maurice Fleming in the 1950s and was later recorded on the Coorse and Fine LP of Dundee songs on Springthyme in 1985. He has been a guest before at FifeSing and has songs are included on two FifeSing CDs.

The East of Scotland Traditional Song Group
The FifeSing traditional singing weekend is organised by The East of Scotland Traditional Song Group - a trust with a committee of Peter Shepheard, Jimmy Hutchison and Chris Miles.

Pete Shepheard:
Pete is a singer, musician and folksong collector. Information above.

Jimmy Hutchison is originally from South Uist - his mother a Gaelic speaker, his father from Glasgow. Jimmy has been singing traditional songs for many years. In the 1960s he was involved in the St Andrews folk club and the Blairgowrie Festival and became a great admirer of Jeannie Robertson, the Stewarts of Blair and old Davie Stewart. Jimmy now lives in Newburgh where he runs a joinery business. He has recorded a solo CD Corachree on the Living Tradition label.

Jimmy Hutchison

Chris Miles was born in Falkland and now lives in Kirkcaldy. She has been singing folk songs for many years and, apart from singing solo, she's been performing with Gordeanna McCulloch and with Aileen Carr and Maureen Jelks, both well known as solo singers and together as Palaver.

Chris Miles

With thanks

Thanks to all who have given free use of their recordings to the East of Scotland Traditional Song Group for their FifeSing CD series. Profit from their sale goes towards the Fife Traditional Singing Festival and events organised by the Group.

The FifeSing events are run by
The East of Scotland Traditional Song Group
(Committee: Peter Shepheard, Jimmy Hutchison, Chris Miles)
Contact us at:
Peter Shepheard, Balmalcolm House, Balmalcolm, Cupar, Fife KY15 7TJ
tel: 00 44 (0)1337 830773
email: peter shepheard