logo Enthusiasms No 4
A collection of shorter pieces on subjects of
interest, outrage or enthusiasm ...

Music in Dunblane

Traditional Folk Music is Alive and Kicking in Braveheart Country

There has been an established folk club in Stirling for at least 25 years which is well-known by people involved in Scottish folk music circles.  But I don't think many people in Scotland know that there is also a very good little folk club which meets in the Stirling Arms Hotel in Dunblane from 8:30 pm on Sunday evenings.  Although it has been in existence now for the best part of ten years, Dunblane Folk Club is probably not as well known about by folk musicians as it deserves to be, because it doesn't book guest artistes.  In other words, it is not like the more orthodox folk clubs, like Stirling, Edinburgh or Glasgow, which are organised on a more formal basis and have an organised calendar of performers throughout the year and charge their clientele admission at the door.

A night at the Dunblane Folk Club is more like a ceilidh in someone's house than anything else.  The atmosphere is very informal and friendly and so, anyone who finds themselves at a loose end on Sunday evenings can look forward to an extremely enjoyable night out.  I think the fact that the admittance is free has been a positive factor in encouraging people of student age to come along from the local campus at Stirling University.  The club boasts a remarkable amount of resident talent hailing from Dunblane itself, Bridge of Allan, Stirling and even as far afield as Perth.  Falkirk and Glasgow.  On a typical evening, you can expect to hear a diversity of musical tastes, ranging from traditional song, fiddle music, poetry and storytelling to more contemporary self-penned material, some blues, jazz, traditional rock-n-roll, and even Oasis gets a look in now and then.  I can recall one evening in particular when there were no fewer than 45 different acts during the three hours, and I think that this statistic speaks volumes for the sort of entertainment value, for want of a better expression, that can be gained from an evening at Dunblane Folk Club.  Everyone is given the opportunity to take part and visitors to the club are welcomed with a warmth that usually ensures that they make a return visit whenever they are passing through the area.

In the last four or five years, a ceilidh band called The Skelpit Lug has been formed, made up of club members and they are currently in the middle of a series of gigs entertaining tourists in hotels in the Stirling area, and they regularly go into local hospitals and old folks homes to entertain the sick and elderly.  The band also plays an active part in the annual Doune & Dunblane Fling: a highly successful little festival on the last weekend in May which, for the last four years, has ensured that the historical heart of Scotland is represented in the national folk festival calendar.

Another off-shoot of the Dunblane Folk Club has been the establishment of a regular weekly pub music session, which meets on Wednesday evenings from the back of 9 o'clock.  The session has been going now for the same number of years as the Fling and meets on alternate weeks in the Village Bar & Bistro in Dunblane and in the Wallace Inn which sits in the shadow of the Wallace Monument in Causewayhead, Stirling.  These sessions are becoming increasingly popular with the locals and are attracting quite a high standard of musicians and singers.  All visitors are, of course, made extremely welcome by the regulars.

The spirit and camaraderie which has been fostered and nurtured within the Folk Club in Dunblane has encouraged some of the more reticent of its members to take up either singing or a musical instrument, and this growing interest is now being catered for by the Falkirk Fiddle Workshop.  The highly successful workshop in Glasgow has encouraged Falkirk fiddler Sandy Harvey to organise one in his home town, and in February of this year, Falkirk Fiddle Workshop was established.  It already has an extremely healthy membership but the policy is to encourage even more people to come along.  The door is also open to anyone passing through who may not be able to be a regular member due to the fact that they live outwith easy travelling distance in either another part of the country or even in another country altogether.  For example, the workshop was attended for a couple of weeks last term by a young lad from Portugal while he was staying in Falkirk on an exchange visit.

The Workshop is divided into two groups: a Beginners Group which is open to those who are at the novice stage of their development; and an Intermediate Group for more advanced pupils, who are either looking to improve their technique further, learn a particular playing style, or who simply wish to expand their repertoire of tunes.  On most weeks during the term, the workshop is led by a couple of tutors, one for the Beginners and one for the Intermediates.  In the occasional weeks when there is no guest tutor, the two groups come together and the material learned in the preceding weeks is revised and gone through in an extended slow session.

In the current term, the workshop has welcomed, or will be welcoming the following tutors:

The Falkirk Fiddle Workshop meets every Tuesday evening between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm in the Community Education Base, Park Street, Falkirk.  There is an annual membership fee due at the start of the year of £5.00 (if I remember correctly) and there is a weekly fee for each session with a guest tutor of £3.00 and the fee is £2.00 for the revision sessions.  The definitive details and directions for travelling to the workshop can be obtained from Sandy Harvey (Tel: 01324 627183).

Colin Douglas - 2.12.97

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