Past Guests

Guest Musicians & Singers

This was the guest list for our past festivals:


  • Colin Dewar Trio
  • Carol Anderson
  • Cathal McConnell
  • Carole Prior
  • Alan Prior
  • Geordie Murison
  • Fife Strathspey & Reel Society


  • Freeland Barbour (accordion) and The Occasionals (ceilidh band)
  • Paul Anderson (fiddle)
  • Shona Donaldson (fiddle & song)
  • Brian Miller (guitar & song)
  • Geordie Murison (guitar & song)
  • Hector Riddell (song)
  • Colin Dewar (accordion)
  • Windygates Buttons & Bows (multi-instrumental!)



2013 – our first year


Freeland Barbour

Freeland comes from Glen Fincastle near Pitlochry in Highland Perthshire and has been a very well-known figure on the Scottish music scene for many years. A former member of folk group Silly Wizard, he helped to found the highly influential Wallochmor Ceilidh Band in 1977 and is also a former BBC Music Producer, and Tutor at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). Noted as a soloist, record producer and composer, he has 11 solo CDs together with many other recordings. He is a member of The Ghillies, has played regularly with Faroese band Spealimenninir, has 3 books of published music available as well as a ‘Complete Works’, and is the owner and former manager of Scotland’s largest recording studio, Castlesound, in East Lothian. He also designs his own accordions.

Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson

Already something of a legend in the time honoured fiddle tradition of Scotland; Paul Anderson is the finest Scots fiddler of his generation. Although only in his forties, he is already something of an icon in Scotland, a fact duly recognised by two specially commissioned portraits of him, a life size one in Aberdeen Art Gallery and a study which is in the care of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

One of the most respected exponents of the Scots fiddle tradition today and as such is in regular demand to perform at concerts, festivals and clubs. He has travelled the world with his music and regularly performs on TV and radio.

Amoungst Scotland’s foremost traditional composers with around 450 tunes composed in the traditional Scottish idiom, many of which appear in his Lochnagar Collection (published by Highland Music Trust). He has written for TV, film and stage, his music has been performed at the BBC Scottish Proms and he was nominated as composer of the year at the BBC Alba Trad Music awards in 2012.

Paul is one of Scotland’s most successful fiddle tutors with his pupils regularly winning fiddle championships all over Scotland and we are delighted to have him lead a Fiddle Masterclass on Sunday morning!

Shona Donaldson

Shona Donaldson became the first woman to win at the 34th annual Bothy Ballads contest in Elgin beating off competition from five other people, including last year’s guest and previous winner Hector Riddell.

Shona Donaldson is one of Scotland’s leading young tradition bearers. Having studied at the RSAMD as a first study Scots Singer, she then appeared in the Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year final in 2003 and 2004. Originally from Huntly, Donaldson grew up surrounded by music and dancing in the heart of Scotland’s bothy ballad country. As well as singing, Donaldson is an accomplished pianist and traditional fiddle player.

Shona has researched the traditions of the Bothy Ballads in the North East of Scotland, in particular focusing on a contemporary adaptation of the Greig-Duncan Collection. With her album Short Nichts and Lang Kisses Shona created modern tunes to the songs without melody, and integrated modern lines into the fragmented songs, juxtaposing old source material with new music and text. As part of her residency Shona toured notable sights on the Bothy Ballad Bus singing songs for which the North East of Scotland is famous.

She has appeared in the Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year finals at Celtic Connections and in 2005 she was also a finalist in the Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year in Gateshead, Newcastle and has appeared at the Tonder International Folk Festival in Denmark, Toronto, London, Edinburgh Castle and at Holyrood for Charles and Camilla. In January 2006 she has appeared in three concerts at the Celtic Connections Festival, Glasgow and has broadcast for the BBC Reel Blend programme.

Brian Miller

As well as being a fine singer, Brian is one of Scotland’s leading accompanists on mandolin and guitar and is always in great demand as a session musician and accompanist. He has played with the likes of Arthur Johnstone of ‘The Laggan’, the Great Fife Road Show, Charlie Soane, ‘The Vindscreen Vipers’ (Danny Kyle, Tich Frier and Mike Whellans) as well as being a member of the dance band ‘The Occasionals’ and many more, too numerous to mention!

As well as playing in the concerts on Saturday and Sunday, Brian will be taking a workshop on Saturday morning in the Community Hall, simply titled ‘Folk Guitar Accompaniment’. A great chance to learn some new tips and techniques from one of the very best.

Geordie Murison

Geordie is a fine singer of ballads and traditional song as well as bothy ballads. He was born and brought up on a farm at Fetteresso just outside Stonehaven. A chance meeting with Jim Taylor, Tam Reid’s nephew, in 1997, led to Geordie attending Aberdeen Branch TMSA sessions. There he met Tam and Anne Reid who encouraged him to enter competitions at festivals. This led to him being invited to festivals all over the country including London, Dorset, Dublin and Whitby as well as in Scotland. In February 2008 he won the Elgin Rotary Club’s Champion of Champions Bothy Ballad competition, then again in 2014. Geordie has also recently appeared in the film, ‘Where You’re Meant To Be’ by Aidan Moffat featuring Sheila Stewart.

Geordie has been studying and researching the background to bothy ballads and will present a talk on Saturday morning, ‘Bothy Ballads of the North-East, Old and New’. We are very much looking forward to this and to welcoming him to our festival.

Hector Riddell

Hector Riddell is a retired farmer from Finzean and a very fine singer of the Bothy Ballads and traditional song. He has won Elgin’s Rotary Club Bothy Ballad ‘Champion of Champions’ Competition in 2009, 2010 and 2013 no less and came second in 2014! He has also won Elgin Bothy King – more than once! Hector is a great singer and guest and we are delighted to welcome him back.

Colin Dewar

Colin is a fine accordionist based in Kirkcaldy. He is much in demand either as a solo performer or with his band and he is renowned for his strict tempo Scottish Country Dance Music.

Colin joins us for the first time, adjudicating the accordion competitions on Saturday afternoon and then playing few tunes in the evening concert. We welcome Colin to our festival.

Windygates Buttons & Bows

Last but certainly not least, we will be joined by a selection of musicians from Windygates Buttons & Bows at our Farewell Concert on Sunday. The musicians and singers meet up every Wednesday night and play a fantastic selection of tunes. It is always packed and everyone who wants to play gets a turn. A fantastic local club. They probably have the greatest selection of accordions under one roof! Some of the musicians are regulars at our festival sessions and we look forward to having them play as part of the festival line-up this year.

Fergie Macdonald

Fergie MacDonald

Fergie Macdonald, otherwise known as The Ceilidh King, is a Gaelic speaking, indigenous Gael with all the trimmings of Moidart culture and history. He was educated at Mingarry Primary and Fort William High Schools in Argyll before joining the army and becoming a physical training instructor. On leaving the army, he graduated as a physiotherapist in Glasgow. Fergie formed his first band in 1953, had his first BBC radio broadcast and first television appearances in 1964 and, to date, has recorded no less than 32 vinyl, cassette and CD albums. In 1965, Fergie broke away from pure Scottish Country Dance music and introduced Ceilidh Dance music, which now has international recognition. Following major heart surgery, life is very precious to Fergie. Being back again on the circuit and performing regularly to his thousands of fans gives him the greatest pleasure.

This is a chance to hear and dance to the great music of the self-confessed Ceilidh King and is one not to be missed!

We are delighted to have Fergie leading a workshop on the Saturday morning for Button Key Accordion (other types of accordion welcome). A unique opportunity to learn from the great man himself.

Aonghas Grant

Aonghas Grant

Aonghas Grant, aka The Left-Handed Fiddler of Lochaber, was a tutor with the summer institute at Stirling University for 30 years, teaches a number of private fiddle students each week, and has been on the Faculty of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Aonghas Grant’s fiddle career spans more than six decades, and he is still very active as a soloist, teacher, workshop leader and session participant. He has been playing the fiddle since he was thirteen years old, learning many tunes from his uncle and his father. His family hails from the Highlands of Glen Moriston and Aonghas is a Gaelic speaker and a natural-born storyteller, bringing tales of close friends and long-ago people and events equally alive.

Aonghas plays a wide range of fiddle tunes, from ancient Gaelic airs to classic Niel Gow sets, to Irish reels, to Highland pipe tunes. He is also a composer of note, and enjoys making musical remembrances of his many students, friends and colleagues. He is honoured to have many tunes written for him too.

Aonghas plays this wide and deep repertoire of tunes in a ‘pipey’ style with a ‘Gaelic’ touch, known as the West Highland Style. Aonghas writes: “As far as style is concerned, it is probably more accurate to state that there are variations on a theme, as opposed to one overall style. The main features are a smoother bow and the use of ornamentation. The bowing often varies with the district and with the particular fiddler. The many fine fiddlers, whom I knew over half a century ago, played the tunes in their own characteristic fashion, irrespective of formal music convention. In other words they did their own thing. None of them knew anything of written music, but they were natural musicians who used complex bowing patterns, mordents, acciaccatura ornamentation and vibrato in some cases. They did so as a matter of course without knowing these terms or others such as octaves, fifths or double stopping!”

The CD ‘The Hills of Glengarry’ was released on October 1st 2007 by Shoogle Records. It is Aonghas’ second solo recording in 30 years.

Aonghas will lead a Fiddle Masterclass on Sunday morning. This is open to all left and right-handed players. Aonghas will also be a guest at the Saturday and Sunday concerts.

Margaret Bennett

Margaret Bennett

Margaret Bennett is a folklorist, writer, singer and broadcaster. She was brought up in a family of tradition bearers, Gaelic on her mother’s side (from Skye) and Lowland Scots on her father’s. School years were spent in Skye, Lewis and Shetland before studying in Glasgow. In the mid-sixties, the legendary Hamish Henderson, singer, poet, folklorist and political activist inspired her career choice. In 1968 she emigrated to Canada to study Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, after which she spent a year in Quebec as a folklorist for Canada’s Museum of Civilization. From 1984 to 1996 she lectured at The University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies and now teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A prize-winning author, Margaret has written ten books, contributed to over 40 others, featured on media productions and several musical collaborations with her son, Martyn Bennett (1971–2005), including the National Theatre of Scotland’s acclaimed production, ‘Black Watch’. Recipient of previous awards for contributions to literature, folklore and culture, she recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Music (Glasgow, 2010), ‘Le Prix du Québec’ (for contributions to Quebec cultural studies, 2011) and was made an Honorary Professor of the Royal Scottish Academy in 2012, she is widely regarded as ‘Scotland’s foremost folklorist’.

On Saturday morning, our guest Margaret Bennett will present her talk, ‘Musical Memories of Martyn Bennett’ which will be illustrated by unreleased, live recordings of the young Martyn through the years at festivals and sessions. We are privileged to have Margaret present this talk on the 10th anniversary of Martyn’s death.

Sheila Kinninmonth

Sheila Kinninmonth

Born and brought up in Fife and with a background in early years education, Sheila has officially been storytelling for over 8 years, although from a young child she was always spinning tales. Her love of stories began at her grandfather’s knee where she listened to tales “straight frae the mooth”, and continues to this day. Her particular strength is enthusing and involving the audience in the stories using puppets, props and sound-makers, while her open and friendly style and dramatic skill creates a ‘sense of occasion’ wherever she is. Sheila enjoys telling to audiences, small and large, indoors and outdoors, young or of a more senior variety and believes that there is nothing like a good story to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together. Sheila has been accredited by the Scottish Storytelling Centre and is on their Directory ( and is also a member of Dundee storytelling group, Blether Tay-gither.

Sheila will be leading two free family storytelling sessions on the Saturday at Brunton Green in Falkland which will be held in her tepee so come along and enjoy some great stories from one of our favourite storytellers.

Scott Gardiner

Scott is one of Scotland’s top traditional singers and has been performing at concerts and festivals across the country since his schooldays. Brought up on a farm near Forfar, he is best known for singing the bothy ballads and songs of the north-east, many of which he has learned from Tam and Anne Reid of Cullerlie, Aberdeenshire. He performs at many gatherings and festivals throughout the year. Scott has a particular love of local Angus folk songs and is on the organising committee of the Kirriemuir Festival and the Angus branch of the TMSA. Career highlights include representing Scotland at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the USA, winning the Bothy Ballad World Championship in Elgin in 2003, and an 18-year run of performances at the Kirrie Pensioners Christmas Party.

You can hear some of Scott’s singing on the Scots Language Centre website.

Maggie Macrae

From Darvel in Ayrshire, Maggie has been a singer and traditional song enthusiast for many years. Maggie Macrae is part of a musical family from a farm in Galloway where she heard family songs round the piano from an early age. She started hearing the real songs at Kinross Festival in 1971 but took a long while to start singing them herself, maybe because she had lots of tunes to play as well. Her involvement in the traditional music scene continued from then on, leading eventually to becoming an organiser, in particular of Kilmarnock Folk Club and Girvan Folk Festival. She plays accordion in her own Tattie Howkers Ceilidh Band.

Sandy Thomson

Sandy Thomson
Sandy Thomson (Photo ©Sean Purser)

Sandy was born in Newton Mohr and has been a singer all his life specialising mainly in the earlier part of his life in singing Gaelic and has competed in both the National and local Mods. He now lives in in Dingwall just north of Inverness and will be competing in the local Inverness Mod the weekend before he comes down to Fife to join us. As well as singing in Gaelic, Sandy has taken up the Bothy Ballad repertoire in recent years with great success and was one of the finalists at the Champion of Champions Bothy competition in Elgin at the start of the this year and was the winner of our Bothy Ballad competition at last year’s festival in Falkland.

We are delighted to welcome him to the Falkland Festival as a guest, not only to adjudicate at the Bothy Ballad competition but also to entertain us with his excellent singing in the Saturday evening Traditional Concert.

Jim Broon

Jim Broon
Jim Broon (Photo ©Sean Purser)

Jim Broon (Brown) is the box player with the legendary Foundry (Bar) Band who have been guests for the last two years at The Falkland Traditional Music Festival, and who is now back as a guest in his own right. Jim will be performing in both the Saturday and Sunday concerts as well as adjudicating the accordion competition on Saturday. He will be accompanied by Alf Hunter on guitar and singer Ken Orrock at the Sunday concert.

Joe Aitken

Joe is from Kirriemuir, and is a fine singer of traditional songs which he delivers in his own inimitable fashion.  He’s also a great exponent of the North East bothy style of singing.  He has won the coveted Champion of Champions bothy ballad competition at Elgin, and featured on the BBC Scotland documentary Beyond The Bothy in 2010.  He has a variety of material from the traditional Berryfields of BlairThe Pair TreeBarnyards O’ Delgaty andAuld Meal Mill to songwriters’ material like Eric Bogle’s Wee China Pig, Ian Middleton’sFestival Of KeithAul’ Davy’s Dra’ers and The Lispin’ Leghorn and Matt Armour’s Generation Of Change.

Joe is what singers enjoy – stand and sing the song and let it speak for itself.

Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor is a singer of Scots Songs and Bothy Ballads and was brought up on a farm in Garlogie, Aberdeenshire. As a nephew of the late Tam Reid of Cullerlie, the famous Bothy Ballad King, it is not surprising that Jim too has a large repertoire under his belt. Jim is a favourite singer in Scotland’s northeast, and an equally popular compere at events in and beyond his home village. He is no stranger to Fife and is a regular contributor and guest at the FifeSing Weekend in May. His good humour and wonderful singing on and off stage will be treat for our audiences in Falkland. Along with Joe Aitken and Scott Gardiner, Jim will be singing at the Sunday Farewell concert.