Many of the judges and comperes are well-known already, some may well have come to prominence via our own event, but now and then we add some new faces, and welcome back some weel-kent ones as well. Here we have some information about some of the folk who are with us this year:
The Border Directors
(Concert, Friday / Workshop, Saturday / Outdoor Stage)
John Bibby, Kim Bibby-Wilson, Matt Seattle and Derek Poxton, specialise in the traditional music and song of Northumberland and the Borders and have been playing together for over twenty five years. Individually they have glorious histories as members of bands, notably Spindlestone. The current band line-up includes fiddle, accordion, Border pipes, Northumbrian pipes, guitar, mandola, mandolin and electric bass. There is a rumour that, especially for the festival, there will be a guest appearance at some stage by former band member and demon flautist, Peter Hawkey – but keep that to yourselves.
The Spiers Family
(Concert Saturday/ Hosts at Singing Room/ Outdoor Stage)
Tom, Maggie and Emma are known for their renditions of traditional folk songs from the North-East of Scotland, sometimes accompanied by Tom on fiddle or tenor guitar. Tom’s involvement in traditional music goes way back from being a founder member of The Gaugers to, more recently, Shepheard, Spiers and Watson. Immersed in folk song and tunes, Maggie and Emma won a spate of singing competitions more recently and began singing out-and-about so they’ve some time to make up and we’re thrilled to have them here.
(Concert Friday/ Workshop Saturday/ Host Singing Room/Outdoor Stage)
Pete is an acknowledged authority on folk song, 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. Although unaccompanied traditional song is at the heart of his enthusiasm, Pete enjoys playing button box/ melodeon. In 2003 Pete joined together with two other singer/musicians to form Shepheard, Spiers & Watson. Tom Spiers and Arthur Watson had both been members of the well respected Aberdeen based group The Gaugers.
(Concert Friday/ Workshop Sunday/ Host Singing Room)
Ailsa, a harpist based in East Cleveland specializes in lovely haunting melodies of the Celtic world. Her musical background is mostly in the traditional music and song of the British Isles, her extensive repertoire including tunes from Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Wales played on the Celtic harp or clarsach. Having appeared with many top folk artists and contributed to their albums playing harp and singing, she also plays both hammer and Appalachian dulcimers. A member of the pioneering folk trio Bryony, the first group to record the Andy Barnes song The Last of the Great Whales, she is also a superlative harmonizer.
(Concert Friday/ Workshop Sunday/ Outdoor Stage)
Kevin has been a musician and researcher of traditional music since the 1980s, concentrating on the Bellows Blown Bagpipes from Northumberland and the Scottish/English Borders. He has played Northumbrian Small Pipes and Border Pipes around the Borders – on the streets, in clubs, solo and with various folk bands. In the Baltic States he has played Northumbrian Pipes at various festivals, getting to know the traditional music of Lithuania and Belarus. Generally knowledgeable on the pipes of Europe and beyond, Kevin is known for a practical and organic approach to getting started and developing your technique. And Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival was one of those that inspired him from his early playing days.
(Concert Friday/ Host of Singing Room/Outdoor Stage)
Aileen, born and brought up in a musical household in rural Perthshire, was singing as a natural part of life from an early age. As time went on, attending Blairgowrie and Kinross festivals with all the excitement of listening to wonderful singers and singing was a formative experience and set her on the path to a continuing exploration of traditional music. The singing of Belle Stewart inspired her to develop her own strong, sensitive and expressive interpretations of songs.
(Outdoor Stage Sunday/ Hosts of Farewell Gathering)
The Fisher Lassies are an a cappella group with a well-established reputation in the Scottish Borders. Their songs are drawn mainly from traditional sources and include several with local connections. With their well-crafted arrangements and beautiful harmony singing their repertoire is wide. Pete Coe said of them, “…from seas to seasons and ballads to Burns…they perform & present with authority, commitment and, most importantly, enjoyment. They’re some of my favourite singers with some of my favourite songs.”
(Dancing here, there and everywhere)
The team was formed in 1977 by a group of friends who met at a hotel folk club which had once been offices to a pit known as ‘the Addison’ at a place known locally as Hedgefield in the then County of Durham. The pithead winding gear, the focal point of any North East pit, was adopted as the team’s logo.
Some members have been with the team since the beginning – getting on for 42 years! The men perform the local rapper sword dance and the women perform clog dances in the Northumberland and Durham tradition to jigs, waltzes and hornpipes.
(Dance, Saturday Night)
The Occasionals are widely regarded as one of the foremost Scottish Ceilidh Dance Bands and have been playing since 1986. Accordionist Freeland Barbour initially joined forces with fellow ex-Wallochmor Ceilidh Band drummer Gus Millar, to ‘occasionally’ play for dances at festivals, and when Freeland invited banjo/mandolin player Kevin Macleod to join that year, the basis of the current band line up was secured. Equally at home playing for Ceilidh, Old Time, or Scottish Country Dance, the band also include concert work, are regulars on TV and radio and are all well-known solo performers. As the leading folk music magazine Folk Roots put it – “If you want straight down the line dance music you can’t do much better than The Occasionals”.
The Derek Edmond Trio
(Scottish Country Dance, Friday Night)
If you enjoy your Scottish country dances traditional, and your reels, hornpipes, jigs and strathspeys never missing a beat and in old style, then Derek Edmond is your man. He and his trio may be starting out but they will soon have you stepping out onto the dance floor like never before. They are gaining a strong reputation in the dancing world, and hopefully this will not be their only visit to Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival.