Musicians across Scotland set to participate in inaugural Scottish Folk Day

Musicians and community groups across Scotland are set to participate in the first ever Scottish Folk Day on Saturday 23 September, helping to promote and celebrate the country’s vibrant and varied folk scene and traditions.

The exciting new project has called for musicians of all backgrounds and abilities across Scotland to stage live performances and workshops throughout the day, in what will be a country-wide celebration of folk music and culture.

Organised by Scotland’s Traditional Music Forum (TMF), Scottish Folk Day is running in tandem with European Folk Day, which has been conceived and coordinated by the European Folk Network. 

The initiative aims to offer a networking platform for musicians and artists at all levels to showcase their talents, while giving folk fans across Scotland and Europe the opportunity to connect with a wider, like-minded community.

Groups and individuals from South Lanarkshire to Stornoway have responded to the call and are set to put on everything from come-and-try workshops to sessions and performances to mark the inaugural cultural celebration.

Concerts across the country include vocalist and fiddle player Mairi McGillivray and guitarist and fiddle player Katie Allen performing a selection of traditional tunes including Gaelic and Scots favourites at Edinburgh’s Holy Cross Church.

Champions of Gaelic and West Highland Music – Dàimh – will play on Lochaber home turf to celebrate the first ever European and Scottish Folk Days. The concert is also the first in a winter series of events at Ardgour Memorial Hall, following on from last year’s successful return to live gigs through Scotland on Tour.

Award-winning Edinburgh roots duo Dowally will mark the day with a performance at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Rachel Petyt and Dan Abrahams will host and collaborate with a showcase of incredible musicians from Scotland and across the continent, including virtuosic Hungarian violinist Janos Lang (Ando Glaso), Eastern European female vocal ensemble Davno, Flamenco vocal and guitar duo Ivan Martin and Tomas De la Rosa and Scottish accordionist Magnus Turpie.

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall will host contemporary-folk duo Juliette Lemoine and Nicky Murray for a dementia-friendly afternoon concert, delighting audiences with their fresh take on a mix of classics, country-folk and original songs.

In Ayrshire, Scotland-based Cultural Connections will perform their latest play, Connie meets Robert Burns, at the Ayrshire Food Hub near Kilmarnock. The light hearted play centres around a ‘gallus’ Glasgow woman trying to understand Robert Burns and his works. Meanwhile, Arran Folk will host a free evening ceilidh at Whiting Bay Village Hall for all to attend.

Award-winning singer, Hannah Rarity is set to put on a special show at the Traverse Theatre at 8pm on September 25th. Hannah has made a lasting impression since being warmly embraced by the folk world, winning BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2018 and recording and touring with top acts Blazin’ Fiddles, Rura, Niteworks and Cherish the Ladies.

There are also plenty of opportunities for beginners and improvers to get involved in the day. The Edinburgh branch of The Clarsach Society are inviting clarsach players, friends and families to join them for an afternoon of music at St John’s Colinton Mains Church.

Down the road, Scots Music Group will host a come and play workshop featuring tunes from all over Europe at Greyfriars Charteris Centre. Sarah Northcott will take participants on a whistle-stop musical tour of mainland Europe from Brittany to Bulgaria and Sweden to Spain,  while the capital’s Waverley Bar will see Joss Cameron lead an inclusive afternoon of singing the ballads of beloved Scottish folk singer Jeannie Robertson from 5pm.

In Aberdeen, two leading North East folk music community organisations are teaming up with the Elphinstone Institute at University of Aberdeen to host an exciting day of workshops and performances. Some of Scotland’s leading folk musicians including Ron Jappy, Hayley Keenan, Jenn Butterworth and Eryn Rae will be holding court at the University of Aberdeen’s MacRobert Building.

Sessions will be storming bars and venues the length and breadth of the country, with MacGregor’s Bar hosting some of the best national and local folk musicians in Inverness and The Hopetoun Arms welcoming Stonehouse Folk House as they host the Leadhill Sessions on the afternoon of both Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd September. The free-to-attend event is encouraging people to join in or just come and enjoy the music as they celebrate Scottish traditional music, Irish folk music and more.

On the afternoon of September 24th, Leith Depot will host an Edinburgh Scandi Session, with musicians coming together to play tunes from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. 

Fèis Rois will also feature a short film showcasing talents from their young musicians on their Facebook page at 10am to mark Scottish Folk Day.

David Francis, Director at Traditional Music Forum, said: “It has been brilliant to see such enthusiasm from artists, schools and communities across the country to get involved in the first ever Scottish Folk Day. The passion and eagerness of musicians, clubs and community groups to participate and network together is a testament to our love and appreciation of folk music as a country. All of us at TMF can’t wait to see what people put on on Saturday 23 September and we are so thankful for their support of the initiative.”

It’s not just musicians and clubs who are getting involved in the event, however. All folk fans are encouraged to record and share a musical performance online using the hashtags #ScottishFolkDay and #EuropeanFolkDay to showcase the breadth of activity taking place across the continent.   

The European Folk Day pilot project is open to traditions of music from any community within Europe, whether historically indigenous or newly-migrant. The event aims to highlight the importance of each and every European musical community, whilst supporting continued resilience through networking and digital communication.

The event has been coordinated by members of the European Folk Network with co-funding from the European Union via the MusicAIRE programme.

For further information on how to get involved, visit:

📷  Photo above: Dowally by Graham Coe