2018 was a remarkable year for Aberdeenshire singer Iona Fyfe. It kicked off in January with a ‘live’ performance of her album, Away From My Window, at Celtic Connections, and ended in December with her walking away with the Scots Singer of the Year prize at the Scots Trad Music Awards. In between, she toured so extensively at home and abroad, including appearances at prestigious events like the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, that one paper said she “made Metallica look like skivers”.
Christine Kydd has been a stalwart of the Scottish folk scene for over 30 years and is renowned not only for her singing and performing, but also for her involvement in numerous teaching, theatrical and community projects and as a vocal coach and choir director.
Having been nominated for the Scots Trad Music Award for Scots Traditional Singer of the Year in 2012 and 2018, she was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame for services to performance in 2018.
For the last 20 years Scottish folk band, Malinky, has made a name for itself as one of the great champions of traditional Scots song. As the band prepares to launch its 20th anniversary album, Handsel, I caught up with two of its founder members, Steve Byrne and Mark Dunlop. They start by telling me a bit about the early days - the line-up back then consisted of Steve, Mark, Karine Polwart and Kit Patterson. Mark begins: “As I recall, the scene at the time comprised either instrumental bands who did the odd song (e.g. Deaf Shepherd), or purely instrumental acts."
The GFRS story begins in 1968 in a dwelling in Strathkinnes, a cottage known as The Poffle. It was, at the time, rented by Jimmy Hutchison and Noel Farrow. While they were residents there the cottage became a regular venue for the post-St Andrews Folk Club gatherings. At one of these, Davey Stewart mentioned something he had come across. It was a group of people who were travelling around in what was referred to as a ‘Folk Charabanc’, taking a folksong-based performance to far-flung places. This conversation sowed a seed until a time was right.