Ceilidh Culture, Edinburgh’s spring fling of acoustic music and the traditional arts has this year moved from its council house, and is now being run by a team from the Usher Hall. Rather than staging a festival, Ceilidh Culture acts as the collating effort, gathering the various events being presented by independent organisations and attempting to raise the public profile of that wide spectrum of creative energy.
From absolute beginner’s workshops (you do secretly want to learn the bodhran) to Queen’s Hall concerts of pyrotechnic instrumental skill (such as Lau or the Ainslie/Henderson trio) to the Harp Festival-within-a-festival, you can dance till you’re legless, fall under the spell, or asleep, to storytellers, and hear music and song that’s Scots, Scandinavian, Jewish, North or South American, Breton, Balkan, Irish, Gaelic, and even English.
That song is regaining its popularity after years of instrumental dominance can be nothing but a good thing, and Sylvia Barnes, Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Christine Kydd, Mike Heron, Stanley Robertson and Billy Joe Shaver are some of the great stylists appearing over the three weeks.
Another singer you’re destined to hear a lot more of is Kim Edgar. Edgar grew up outside Edinburgh where she started piano lessons when she was four years old. ‘From about 12 I was writing songs,’ she says, ‘but I was performing way before that. The Burns Federation concerts and so on,’ – she laughs – ‘I had Burns forever.’ Later, while she was polishing off ‘Claire de Lune’ and Ravel on the piano she was also listening to the great songwriters she admires. ‘Joni Mitchell above all, but I love others, like Boomtown Rats, The Killers, Depeche Mode, and, yes, Stephen Sondheim.’
Although she’s been teaching and gigging from her post-grad years it’s only recently that everything has come together, in her powerful first album.
‘It was the Burnsong organisation, who took 17 unsigned writers and put us in a house together, and the support, co-operation, sharing and appreciation that everyone showed, that was the big push.’ She adds: ‘The music community, the songwriting community, is very supportive. We’re not competitive. It’s not like athletics.’ Kim Edgar Group, The Lot, Edinburgh, Sat 22 Mar.
Traditional music from beginner to advanced fiddlers (feel free to bring your own instrument) for a mini-ceilidh and a 'Fun Fiddle' led by Jenny Gardner, Gica Loening, Gordon Turnbull and Conrad Molleson, with workshops and a 'Grand Carnival Stramash' at 3.30pm. Part of Ceilidh Culture.
A preview of the Edinburgh Fringe show from Marie-Louise Napier and Kirsty Shilson. The performance, comprising storytelling, poetry, music and song, is a celebration of Scottish female talent throughout the ages, from seventeenth century poet Mairi Nigh'n Alasdair Ruaidh to modern day gems such as Liz Lochhead and Karine…
Harpist Moretti is joined by the Edinburgh Quartet playing works by Ravel, Eddie McGuire and Andre Caplet's 'Conte Fantastique' based on Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Masque of the Red Death'. 'Part of Ceilidh Culture'.