Authentic Voices, Celebrations & Dedications for the 15th Carrying Stream Festival at the SSC

The 15th Carrying Stream Festival will take place in Edinburgh this year from 9-16 November and the Scottish Storytelling Centre hosts a trio of events, plus an exhibition by Charles Nasmyth which includes a large portrait of Hamish Henderson, amidst other key figures from Scotland’s popular culture and folklore. 

Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) is often referred to as the “father of the Scottish folk revival”. Since the year of his death, Edinburgh Folk Club have organised Carrying Stream in his memory, embodying his spirit for celebrating traditional music, song, storytelling and poetry in both historical and contemporary contexts – looking backward and forward as part of the carrying stream of folk tradition. 

Nancy NicolsonThey Sent a Wumman: Nancy Nicolson At 75

A 75th Anniversary celebration of “cultural crofter” from Caithness, Nancy Nicolson, who has been described as “an instant ceilidh” by Edinburgh Folk Club regulars. She is renowned for her quirky and poignant song writing and storytelling, echoed in the title of the event named after one of her tunes, which is a humorous romp about sexist stereotyping.

Nancy came to performance late as she, like a lot of people, thought she couldn’t sing. She starting performing at folk clubs aged 33 and then became inspired to learn the melodeon and pen her own songs, as she reflects here in her own words which echo hugely the sentiments of the Carrying Stream Festival:

“I believe it is the right of all in a society to experience and participate in its root culture. This is essential both to develop the full potential of the society and its individuals, and to ensure the continued survival and well-being of the culture.”

Join Nancy on Thu 10 Nov where she will be joined by fellow Caithnessian writer George Gunn, singer & multi-instrumentalist Annie Grace, jazz pianist Brian Kellock & cello player, singer & composer Wendy Weatherby, with a book launch of Nancy Collected Songs preceding the performance.

Gary WestYou’re Wanted Lads: Frontline Voices from WWI

From the 1930s – 1980s, Jock Duncan gathered personal testimonies of “The Great War” in the North-East of Scotland from those who had been there, with insights into regiments such as The Gordon Highlanders, The Black Watch and Scottish Horse.

Professor Gary West, Personal Chair in Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh, has woven the stories together to create a play with Scott Gardiner, Chris Wright and his son Charlie West, alongside music and poems from Seaforth Highlander E. Alan Mackintosh, with biographer Colin Campbell plus Neil MacLure and Linn Phipps.

“Ian Duncan, Jock’s son, a few years back handed me a manuscript and I didn’t know anything about it and neither did Ian,” explains Gary. “He must have started very young, as Jock was born in 1925 and the entries date back to the ‘30s, where he has transcribed 60 interviews and it’s a fascinating collection of insight.

“The performance on Armistice Day (Fri 11 Nov) is a play of sorts, set in modern times with a trio gathered in the kitchen for their usual session of songs and tunes, when a young lad comes by with a letter from a publisher and they discover the voices of a previous generation, emphasising the importance of these documents as memories from those who were there. The recollections are all very matter of fact, which I guess reflects the time and how people coped with the atrocities of war, however emotion comes out if a horse got injured; there were pages of perfuse mourning.”

Alastair McDonaldFrom Thurso to Berwick: A Celebration of Morris Blythman

Alastair McDonald, firmly regarded as one of Scotland’s leading musical minstrels, leads a musical tribute to friend and mentor Morris Blythman (1919-1981), aka the poet and songwriter ‘Thurso Berwick’ on Mon 14 Nov.

In addition to his innumerable television, radio and stage appearances worldwide, Alastair is a prolific recording artist with a vast repertoire of traditional, contemporary and original material. He has worked with established theatre figures such as Jimmy Logan, Calum Kennedy, John Cairney and Russell Hunter, as well as working with comrades-in-arms in the world of “folk” such as Josh McRae, Dominic Behan, Matt McGinn, Billy Connolly and Hamish Imlach.

“Morris Blythman was easily one of the best human beings I have been privileged to work with and learn from and is perhaps the most significant powerhouse of the ‘Folk Revival’ in Scotland,” states Alastair. “He mentored me through my early career and was an influence on so many folksingers like Robin Hall and Jimmie McGregor, Jim McLean, Ewan McVicar, Susan and Jimmy Ross, Josh McRae – the list could go on and on!

“It will be both an immense pleasure and privilege to sing from the Blythman repertoire of Sangs o’ the Stane and the Ding Dong Dollar ballads recorded by New York label Folkways and to gi’e it laldie with Morris’ comic and satiric compositions like The Scottish Breakaway, Lucky Wee Prince Chairlie, Sky High Joe and The Eskimo Republic.”

A Theatre Objektiv production in association with The Carrying Stream Festival, which has been scripted by playwright Raymond Ross who, with performer Corinne Harris, will appear alongside Alastair to speak some of the poems and share tales along the way.

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