Last September the ceilidh band I play with (the Greenbank Buskers) were doing a gig in a hall which was filled with lots of noisy dancers (etc!). We have usually managed fine in the past but found that the fiddles were having difficulty hearing the accordions, and vice versa. We had amplification but only for the hall.

Having done other gigs where we had (gasp!) a sound tech and even (gasp again!) floor/stage monitor speakers, I knew there was a solution to our problem – but commercially at cost – and we are just a band that plays for charity. However, I remembered that I had an ancient guitar amp I made with a couple of really nice speakers in it …

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Back from a fun time at the Chester folk festival – the photo is definitely the best I took (though I didn’t take many as the music was too much fun). It’s Ratty of course 🙂  We only stayed overnight on the Saturday but still saw a lot. Very much enjoyed Les Barker on Saturday lunchtime, then the afternoon concert with 5 acts including Will Pound’s “Through the Seasons” which we had heard a lot about on several radio folk programmes so were interested to see it. It was good though I felt the story was a bit disconnected at times. Hannah James with her accordion was superb, as were The Trials of Cato (fantastic mandolin player), and of course Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer were well up to their usual fantastic standard.

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bike and view

Some good weather let me get in a couple of bike rides whilst in Gatehouse. I did a little recce of the roads (since I’ve not been on them much yet this season) and was horrified by the potholes on the Lauriston climb. The top photo is the view from the car park about half way up the climb (as far as I went on the recce).

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Thanks to Trevor Buck and Phil Lyon for alerting me to a house concert this evening – we went along to hear Ditte Andersson (nyckelharpa, fiddle, voice) together with Ewen MacPherson of Shooglenifty, Salt House … (guitar, voice) and Sarah Hoy (fiddle). A great evening. I’ve been very lucky to hear lots of nyckelharpa in the past few weeks – Peter Hedlund, Väsen, and now Ditte Andersson. Fantastic!

fiddle and harpa

The Greenbank Buskers played a wee gig today in St Mary’s Kirk, Haddington, as part of their summer concert series. We normally play for dancing at ceilidhs (for charity), but today had been asked to do a performance – so our bandleader Hazel had finally got me to play the nyckelharpa (I don’t really do reels on it yet). We formed a trio from the band – Fiona on fiddle, Tom on guitar and self on nyckelharpa, and gave them three Swedish tunes. It meant that I had both fiddle and nyckelharpa there; the nyckelharpa seemed to go down well with the audience. Continue reading


Whilst down in Gatehouse we visited a new tourist attraction that opened last year – a reconstructed iron age roundhouse. There has been a dig nearby for some time, and they found evidence of several round houses, including a very large one on which this is based. It’s a tremendous building, definitely worth a visit (the ticket gives entry to other museums etc and also is valid for a year!). Continue reading