FifeSing2011: The Fife Traditional Singing Festival

Friday to Sunday 13, 14, 15 May 2011

Jeff Warner takes a turn at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival 2010 (Photo by Doc Rowe)

Click here for more Pics

FifeSing2011: The Fife Traditional Singing Festival
Friday - Sunday 13, 14, 15 May 2011

Listen Now:
Songs recorded live at the FifeSing Festivals:
May 2009: PLAY mp3s
May 2010: PLAY mp3s
If you have broadband and Quicktime Player it will be easy!

•••• NEWS ••••

Guest Singers confirmed for 2011

Elizabeth Stewart (Mintlaw), Jock Duncan (Pitlochry), Danny Couper (Aberdeen), John Valentine (Aberdeen), Len Graham (Newry, N. Ireland), Emily Portman (Newcastle), Brian Dawson (Lincoln). Duncan MacRae (Coaltown of Balgonie), Dr Emily Lyle (Edinburgh)

FifeSing is held annually on the weekend following the
second Wednesday in May.
FifeSing2012 should be 11, 12, 13 May 2012.

Have a look at the FifeSingCDs link - song text links and mp3 links are being added in for all the FifeSing CDs.

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The Place:

Click for Interactive MapThe Fife Animal Park
The Fife Animal Park is on the B937 between Collessie and Ladybank on the left about half a mile south from the A91/B937 crossroads. There are good train services from Dundee or Edinburgh to Ladybank station. Taxi (tel: 01337 828630 or 828214) from Ladybank to Collessie (4 miles). Click for interactive map.

Restaurant: Food and Bar Facilities
Food will be available throughout the weekend between events - from Friday at 6.00pm and for Breakfast and Lunch (Saturday & Sunday) and Evening meal (Saturday). Full bar facilities at all events.

On-site Accommodation
The Fife Animal Park has a paddock for free camping and caravans with on-site toilet facilities. Let us know at the time of booking if you plan to bring a caravan.

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.

Freuchie (4 miles): Lomond Hills Hotel (£40pppn) tel: 01337 857329
and Ochil Villa B&B (£25pppn) tel: 01337 858031

Falkland (7 miles): Ladywell House B&B (£35pppn) tel: 01337 858414

Newton of Falkland (5 miles): Kiln House B&B (£30pppn) tel: 01337 857188

Ladybank (4 miles): Redlands Country Lodge (£35pppn) tel: 01337 831091

Other accommodation around the area: RoomFinder
The Crown Hotel Kingskettle (3 miles): (£25pppn) tel: 01337 830244
Carols B&B Newton of Falkland (5 miles) (£25pppn) tel: 01337 857438

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

Gateside (7 miles): Edenshead Stables (£39pppn) tel: 01337 868500

Newburgh (7 miles): Ninewells Farmhouse (£30pppn) tel: 01337 840307

Cupar (8 miles): Hillcairnie Farmhouse (£30pppn) tel: 01337 870231

Cupar (9 miles): Wester Dura (£27.50pppn) tel: 01334 65077

Glenrothes (7 miles): Holiday Inn (£29pppn) (see web offers)
or Travelodge (£40 room) (see web offers)
or Laurelbank Hotel (£65 double) tel: 01592 611205

FifeSing 2011 Guest List

For a first visit to our event we are very pleased to welcome one of Ireland's finest traditional singers Len Graham from Newry in Northern Ireland. Ill health caused our own outstanding traditional singer Elizabeth Stewart to cancel her visit to FifeSing in 2008 but she hopes very much to make it this year. We will be welcoming again (on Saturday only) the great northeast singer Jock Duncan from Pitlochry. We welcome Emily Portman, a singer, writer and concertina player based in the North East of England who is one of the finest young singers in the current folk scene. Danny Couper from Aberdeen brings an infectious enthusiasm for the songs he learned from the great old-timers of the 1960s. From Cove Bay near Aberdeen we welcome John Valentine who relishes the bothy ballads and the cornkisters of the north-east. The most local of our guests is Duncan MacRae, a fine singer and blacksmith since 1974 at Coaltown of Balgonie. We have finally persuaded an old friend Brian Dawson fom Lincoln to come as a guest - a singer we have met over the years at the great Whitby Folk Week. Lastly, we are greatly honoured that Dr Emily Lyle, the noted scholar of oral culture, mythology and traditional balladry has agreed to join us as Saturday morning Guest Speaker.

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


Saturday Morning ~ Brian Dawson: Folksongs and ballads from Lincolnshire and the Percy Grainger connection. Dr Emily Lyle: New Light on Early Robin Hood Ballads.
Sunday Morning ~ Emily Portman: My route into folk song. Len Graham: The singers I have known and the songs I have inherited.

The Programme

Friday 13th May
Evening Concert: 8.00pm - 10.30pm
The opening concert with songs and ballads from the guest artistes and participants - continuing as:
Singaround: 10.30pm - 12.30am
An opportunity for all to join in a singaround with songs from their own repertoire.

Saturday 14th May
Workshop/Talk: 10.00am - 11.00am
Brian Dawson: Folksongs and ballads from Lincolnshire and the Percy Grainger connection.
Illustrated Lecture: 11.30am - 12.30pm
Dr Emily Lyle: New Light on Early Robin Hood Ballads.
Ballad Concert: 2.00pm - 5.00pm
The guests and participants with traditional ballads from their repertoire. The classic big ballads - the muckle sangs.
Evening Concert: 7.30pm - 10.30pm
Songs from near and far: Guest artistes present their song and ballad traditions.
Singaround: 10.30pm - 12.30am
Another chance for all to join in a singaround with songs from their own repertoire.

Sunday 15th May
Talk & Sing: 10.30am - 11.30am
Emily Portman: My route into folk song.
Reminiscences: 11.45am - 12.45pm
Len Graham: The singers I have known and the songs I have inherited.
Farewell Concert: 2.00pm - 5.00pm
The guest artistes lead a farewell concert and singaround with songs from all who still have a good song to sing and a voice left to sing it!

Ticket Prices

All-In Ticket (Friday to Sunday): £30 (£25)
Friday Evening Concert: £8 (£6)
All day Saturday & Evening Concert: £18 (£15)
Saturday morning Workshops/Talks: £7 (£5)
Saturday Ballad Concert: £7 (£5)
Saturday Evening Concert: £10 (£8)
All day Sunday: £10 (£8)
Sunday morning Workshops/Talks: £7 (£5)
Sunday Farewell Concert: £7 (£5)

Concession prices in brackets are for Senior Citizens & Students.

Cheques payable to East of Scotland Traditional Song Group by post to the address below. If possible, please use the Booking Form that can be downloaded as a pdf.
Click, download and open with AdobeReader:

Booking Form

and Brochure
or Brochure page 1 and page 2


Len Graham: County Antrim born, Len Graham has been a full-time professional traditional singer since 1982. After he won the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann traditional singing competion in 1971 his reputation began to spread, and at the same time his own passion for the songs of his native Ulster was growing. From the early 1960s Len sought out and recorded older singers such as Eddie Butcher and Joe Holmes. Len’s extensive repertory of songs covers the whole gamut of themes and human experience as portrayed in early classic ballads, broadside ballads, local songs, come-all-ye’s, lyric folksongs, music hall pieces; songs on politics, murder, love, emigration and much more. He has performed at numerous Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, as well as appearing on many radio and television programmes. In 1992 he received the Seán O’Boyle Cultural Traditions Award in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer. In 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for Traditional Singer Of the Year. In 2008 he was awarded Keeper of the Tradition from the Tommy Makem Festival of Traditional Song and the US Irish Music Award in the Sean-Nos Singing category.

Len Graham
Books and CDs
Emily Portman: With a BBC Folk Award nomination for her work with harmony trio The Devil’s Interval, Emily is already an established musician on the UK folk scene, commended by Shirley Collins and annually touring with Waterson:Carthy. Emily has recently appeared at The Southbank Centre as part of their ‘Folk Roots, New Routes’ series and debuted her new songs at The Sage Gateshead. Emily originally hails from Glastonbury, where, raised on a diet of fairytales and Somerset folklore, she began songwriting at the age of six, starting out with a keyboard, a tape recorder and a thirst for blood-curdling stories. After years immersed in traditional songs, Emily's return to songwriting has already grabbed attention across the BBC, with a live session for radio 6, high praise on radio 2 and with Radio 3’s ‘Words and Music’ broadcasting live performances of songs from the album at their 'Free Thinking' Festival'.

Emily Portman

Jock Duncan was brought up in the ballad-rich farming country around New Deer and Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, where he developed his love of traditional balladry and music. He is widely recognised as one of Scotland's foremost traditional singers. His extensive repertoire of traditional ballads and northeast songs is an inspiration. The great northeast singer John Strachan farmed close to Jock's family farm and for several years Jock sang with John Strachan's concert party. Jock knew old Jimmy McBeath and remembers giving Jimmy a sixpence for his rendition of an old bothy ballad at the cinema queue. Few singers nowadays can have such a pedigree. In 2006, he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in recognition of his contribution to Scotland's living song tradition and he is, of course, an honorary member of the TMSA.

Hall of Fame 2006
CD: Jock Duncan: Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan! and songs on the FifeSing CDs: AH002 and AH003 and AH006.

Elizabeth Stewart is recognised as one of Scotland's finest traditional singers. Brought up in a family steeped in the song and music traditions of the north east and with the richest of ballad and song traditions inherited by Scotland's travelling people, Elizabeth has been singing the old songs and ballads since childhood. Many of her songs came from her family, the Fetterangus Stewarts - in particular from her aunt Lucy Stewart who became widely recognised after the release of recordings of her singing made in 1960 by the American collector Kenneth Goldstein.

Elizabeth has also played piano in her own Scottish dance band - as did her mother - and her talent as a musican has no doubt influenced her style and her creativity in the interpretation of the songs she sings.

Elizabeth Stewart: Musical Traditions Review

John Valentine from Cove Bay near Aberdeen is an engineer in the oil industry and a fine singer. He first gained his enthusiasm for bothy ballads from his grandad who had quite a collection of recordings from Willie Kemp, Harry Gordon and Curly Mackay. His mum and dad stayed in the bothy at Newton of Altens at Nigg when they were first married and moved to Cove a year after John was born. John's dad was an engineer and salmon fisher on the Aberdeen shore. John used to spend time down the road with Old Albert, farmer at Findon, where he enjoyed learning the old ways of the land. The Nicky Tams was one of John's first songs - performed when ten years old, standing on a table at his grannie's ruby wedding. Geordie Murison was a friend of the family (John's grandad and uncle worked for Geordie) and had been at the wedding. So when the TMSA Tuesday sessions started in Aberdeen Geordie suggested that John came along - and there he met in with Tam Reid and Jim Taylor and soon he was taking part in the competitions at Keith and Turriff (pic on the left) - and in 2010 he was invited to compete at the Elgin Champion of Champions Bothy Ballad Competition.
Danny Couper has been involved in the folk revival since the early days of the Aberdeen Folk Club when the great old timers such as Jeannie Robertson, Auld Davie Stewart (the Galoot) and Jimmy McBeath were as likely to be in the Folk Club as Martin Carthy, Cyril Tawney or Hamish Imlach. Danny was at the FifeSing Festival in 2010 - and is included on the CD recorded during that weekend - singing a great version of McPherson's Lament (as seen in the pic to the left - accompanied by Carol Anderson on fiddle) - learned from the singing of Auld Davie. Danny went into the fish trade in his twenties and over the years has built up one of the largest fish wholesale businesses in Scotland.

Brian Dawson is widely known and respected, both as a performer and collector of folk material (especially from his home county of Lincolnshire). In his time Brian, as an accomplished musician (accordion and fiddle), has been a member of folk bands such as The Meggies (founders of Grimsby Folk Club back in the 1960s), and Broadside Ceilidh Band, which only recently disbanded. But he also quickly established himself as an equally accomplished solo performer. He has been a regular at the great Whitby Folk Week and has presented some excellent workshops on songs of Lincolnshire, and the singers and folk song collectors including the work of Australian musicologist and composer Percy Grainger.

Brian Dawson: All Fools Chine Supper
Duncan MacRae is the most local of our guests - blacksmith since 1974 at Coaltown of Balgonie. Born in a cottage at the top of Glen Maick above Comrie where his father was shepherd, the family later moved to Rossie Ochil farm on the hill top between Glenfarg and Forgandenny. There he remembers being encouraged by one of the horsemen to sing the bothy ballads - and, at the age of eight, riding on the tattie waggon singing Bonnie Wee Jeannie McColl with the women walking behind planting potatoes from their aprons. When he came to Coaltown he found himself in demand to sing for the old folk, at the accordion club and local village events. Duncan is a fine singer and when he met Sheena Wellington she suggested he try his hand at the traditional singing competitions - and he soon gained the Traditional Singing cup at the TMSA festivals at Kirriemuir, Auchtermuchty and Keith as well as the Buchan Heritage festival at Strichen.
Dr Emily Lyle is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh and was for many years a member of the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh - now the the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies. She has pioneered advances in the broad history of oral culture by putting folk material such as narratives and customs together with ancient mythology to come up with a new theoretical perspective which she hopes to publish shortly in book form as Ten Gods: A New Approach to Defining the Mythological Structures of the Indo-Europeans. She has studied a number of the Scottish song collectors of the past and has edited several collections including The Harris Repertoire (from the Perthshire sisters Amelia and Jane Harris) and the Crawfurd Collection (from Renfrewshire) and she was series editor of the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection. In Fairies and Folk: Approaches to the Scottish Ballad Tradition (2007) she discusses fairy ballads like Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin in the context of traditional beliefs and Scottish culture from the Middle Ages up to the present day.

On Friday 14 December 2007 a Festschrift entitled Emily Lyle: The Persistent Scholar was presented to Dr Emily Lyle at the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies. The Festschrift emphasises the unique and important contribution that Dr Lyle has made to ballad studies over many years, and was presented on the occasion of her 75th birthday.

Emily has recently published a paper on the Robin Hood ballads and we are honoured that she has agreed to present this during FifeSing 2011 as an Illustrated Lecture (Saturday 11.30 am to 12.30 pm): New Light on Early Robin Hood Ballads.

Website Links:
Emily Lyle
The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection
Hogmanay Customs (YouTube Video)
The Harris Repertoire
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson: The singing weekend is organised by a committee of Peter Shepheard, Tom Spiers and Arthur Watson who sing together as Shepheard, Spiers & Watson. All three are enthusiasts for traditional song. Pete is a singer and musician and folksong collector and runs the Scottish music label Springthyme from his home in Balmalcolm. Tom, who has recently moved to the Turriff area, sings and plays fiddle and was for many years a member of the Aberdeen based group The Gaugers. Arthur who now lives in Perth, sings and plays whistle, was also in The Gaugers, founded the renowned Peacock Print Makers in Aberdeen and is now Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Dundee. The three formed the East of Scotland Traditional Song Group in 2003 as a vehicle for running the Fife Traditional Singing Weekend and the Group has now been formed into a Trust with the addition of two new trustees - Jimmy Hutchison from Newburgh and Chris Miles from Kirkcaldy.

Shepheard, Spiers & Watson

The FifeSing events are run by a Trust:
The East of Scotland Traditional Song Group
(Committee: Peter Shepheard, Tom Spiers, Arthur Watson, 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