Ron Bissett (1933-2017) leading with a song at FifeSing 2008
Join us again on Sunday 20 December on Zoom or Facebook from 8.00pm
for FifeSing December Old Songs Online
Special guest - Norman Kennedy online from Vermont.
Norman Kennedy is one of the finest traditional singers to emerge in the 1960s - with a repertoire of songs and ballads learned from the great traditional singers of the day - Jeannie Robertson, Old Davie Stewart, Jimmy McBeath and others. We will be playing a selection of songs and ballads - some from the archives, others from Norman’s CDs, LPs - and showing a film of Norman waulking the tweed at Portsoy Boat Festival. Norman has lived in the USA since 1966 and he plans to join us online from his home in Marshfield, Vermont.
Norman’s earliest ‘commercial’ recording is from January 1965 at a concert in the Pollock Hall in Edinburgh where he sang Bonnie Udny. His first full solo LP was recorded by Sandy Paton for Folk Legacy Records in the USA. Many other albums have been produced since then in America, England and Scotland. Norman still lives beside the weaving school he founded in Marshfield, Vermont. In 2003 he received the prestigious American NEA National Heritage Fellowship for his contribution to American culture as a singer, weaver and storyteller.
Here are the earlier livestream videos:
This year we welcome as guests Macdara Yeates - a traditional folk singer and one of a crop of singers associated with the recent resurgence of young singing talent in Dublin. Allan Taylor - a singer with a passion for the traditions, culture and the Doric language of his native Aberdeenshire. Ellie Beaton a remarkable young singer and musician from Rothienorman who describes herself as ‘a wee folk singer from the north-east of scotland who enjoys ballads, doric and pints.’ We welcome back Jim & Lynette Eldon fom Yorkshire - Jim a singer and fiddler and his wife Lynette a clog dancer. Many of Jim’s songs and tunes are local to Hull and East Yorkshire. As a local guest we welcome Erika Cragg - originally from Selkirk and now living in Kirkcaldy - an enthusiast for traditional songs and a regular participant at FifeSing.
[Click names for more info]
Jim & Lynette Eldon
Jim Eldon is a singer and fiddler and his wife Lynette, a clog dancer. Many of Jim’s songs and tunes are local to Hull and East Yorkshire – learnt from family, from neighbours and from actively going out and seeking old songs and tunes from people he met. Jim was a guest with us at FifeSing a few years ago when we were still running the event at the Fife Animal Park and we are very pleased to extend a Fife welcome once again. For thirty years or more, Jim played for a living on board the Bridlington pleasure boats Yorkshire Belle and Flamborian. As Jim says: "That was a seven-days-a-week commitment from April to October, playing without amplification out on deck up to seven trips a day. It was fun and it was tiring and it was a hand to mouth existence. The welcome arrival of an old age pension ended that job at the end of the 2012 season. The music continues!" Jim is a regular guest at Whitby Folk Week and last year gave a presentation on Flamborough fishermen’s songs and tales. He is also the regular fiddler with the The Goathland Plough Stots, a traditional longsword dance team with a history at least a couple of hundred years long.
Erika is originally from Selkirk, in the Scottish Borders, now living in Kirkcaldy, Fife. Erika has always loved traditional music but her first encounter with traditional song came through a chance conversation with her art teacher, Elsa Lemaitre, while still at Selkirk High School. This fortuitous moment opened up the whole world of traditional song with Elsa introducing Erika to the singing of the Copper Family, Shirley Collins, Lizzie Higgins amongst many others and Elsa and Erika enjoy singing together in harmony. Another turning point came when Elsa took Erika to her first FifeSing in 2004. Here, Erika heard first hand the singing of Jock Duncan, Stanley Robertson, Sheila Stewart, Elizabeth Stewart, Gordon Easton, Duncan Williamson to mention just a few! As well as this, Erika met Jimmy Hutchison with whom she would work, learning from him his wealth of joinery skill and knowledge. This was soon followed by singing and then weaving, where together in 2017 they would establish Newburgh Handloom Weavers. Together Erika and Jimmy helped run the Muchty Traditional Music Festival from 2006 and then Falkland Traditional Music Festival from 2013.
Joe Aitken, 75, is one of the great upholders of Scotland’s bothy ballad tradition. Joe is lucky enough to have known and learned songs from many of the great traditional singers of the past - Charlie Murray of Craigeassie, Willie McKenzie of Inverness and Willie Clark of Ballindalloch to name a few. He has of course been a guest and regular participant at FifeSing and, this year, he has agreed to join us for the Jimmy Hutchison interview spot when we will hear about his life, his songs and the singers and bothy ballad characters he has known. Winner of many singing competitions for his authentic narrative style, he has won for a record six times the much-coveted porridge bowl, spoon at the annual Elgin Bothy Ballad ‘Champion of Champions’ competition. Born into the bothy ballad tradition, he would sing at end of term school parties and any time the family had visitors. However, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Joe began to take singing more seriously. In 1982, the Kinross Folk Festival moved to Kirriemuir and Joe was encouraged to enter the singing competition. For Joe, who worked on the land for most of his working life, the bothy ballads are a social and political history of farms and farming and Scots culture that he takes great pleasure in sharing. Joe was honoured to appear in the opening concert at Celtic Connections in 2016, marking the 50th anniversary of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland and was winner of the Scots Singer of the Year title at the MG Scots Trad Music Awards in 2010.
Michael Alpert has been a pioneering figure in the renaissance of East European Jewish klezmer music for over 30 years and is internationally known for his award-winning performances and recordings. In 2015, he was made US National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow. His particular enthusiasm is song from the Eastern European Jewish tradition. Michael at present spends much of the year in Fife - living in Crail - and he has joined us in song at FifeSing several times. We are very pleased that he has agreed to present a workshop at FifeSing2020. A former Research Associate at NYC’s YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, he has conducted extensive documentation of music and dance in Jewish communities throughout North America and Europe. He has featured in several documentary films has taught and lectured at universities in England, USA and Europe. From 1998-2008 he was Co-Artistic Director of Montreal’s KlezKanada Institute for the Yiddish/Jewish Cultural Arts. He currently serves as Director of Jewish Heritage and Arts Programming for the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, and is Senior Research Fellow at NYC’s Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
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.
Link: High definition image
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. In December 2018 Pete was awarded the Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award 2018 at the MG Alba Scots Trad Muic Awards in Perth.
Websites: Peter Shepheard and www.springthyme.co.uk
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson
CD1: They Smiled as We Cam In and CD2: Over The High Hills
Jimmy 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 was also a founder member of the Blairgowrie Festival and the TMSA. He became a great admirer of Jeannie Robertson, the Stewarts of Blair, Norman Kennedy 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. He has recently set up his original Kennedy loom in his joinery shed in Newburgh. It is well worth a look at the Newburgh Handloom Weavers website.
Website: Jimmy Hutchison
Chris was born in Falkland and now lives in Kirkcaldy. She has been singing folk songs for many years and, as well as singing solo, she has performed with Gordeanna McCulloch, Aileen Carr and Maureen Jelks, all well known as solo singers and together as Palaver.
Website: Chris Miles
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.