Potato and Herring Traditional Music Event. (Bunta`ta angus Sgadan)

Potato and HerringTraditional Music Event. (Bunta`ta angus  Sgadan)

Fiddlers of the Heather Isles on the Island of Lewis held a very traditional evening on the 28th November 2003.
Salted herrings and mackerels were served up during the ceilidh with boiled potatoes(roosters),butter and fresh milk.This was the staple diet on the islands up until not very long ago.Salting was the system of preseving the fish over the winter periods in days gone by before refrigeration.The fish were gutted and then layered in buckets and salted.This could then be eaten within a matter of weeks when boiled.
Fingers were used to eat the fish in the old days but it was noted that most guests used a knife and fork to eat the fish this time.
One of the benefits of eating salted fish of course is the tremendous thirst that develops after a while.
On the musical side of things performing at the ceilidh were Dougie Kane on the pipes,Catriona Watt gaelic singing,Sticks and Drones a local bagpipe and drums group,Heather isle fiddlers the local fiddle organisation,Campbell Maclean on accordion,the Kane brothers and star of the show “Tiene”which translates to Fire,Lynsday Macritchie(Keyboards),Judy Morrison(Clarsadh),and Catriona on low “D”whistle.The highlight of  the Tiene performance was a beautiful version of Phil Cunninghams` Youngest Ancient mariner`.
The finale of the evening was all the fiddlers on stage playing a series of 6/8`s ,Nell Flahertys` Drake,Ness Bochan,Wee tod,Kenny Gilles of Portnalong to an Orcadian Strip the Willow.
Then followed a gaelic waltz to the tunes
MorunGeal Dileas,Cailuin mo Ruansa and Morag of Dunvegan.
It is refreshing to report that the majority of the musicians donating thier talents on the evening were teenagers.Every one of them are serious players in their own disciplines.It bodes well for the future of traditional music in the hebrides.

Dolan Morrison
Fiddlers of the Heather Isles.

Taransay Fiddle School 2003. T2

Taransay Fiddle School 2003.

Taransay 2003 finished Friday 25th July with a concert and ceilidh in Tarbert village hall.Both events were sold out  with the quality performances by all artists being of the highest quality yet acheived.
Artists included Alan Henderson from Blazin` Fiddles,Pete Cooper ,London,Alistair White ,Battlefeild Band,Patsy Reid,Lochaber,Alsion Macleod,Inverness and all participating students,
Thirty three students from as far afeild as Pittsburg,USA and Melbourne Australia attended the fiddle course which this year had additional lessons in keyboard accompaniment,piping masterclass,stepdancing.
The weather was overall not too bad with rain for two days only.Bill Lawson from Norhton gave us a historic walk and talk on Thursday with many students taking the oppurtunity to take the four hour walk.
Highlight of the week was the thursday night traditional candlelight ceildh in the steading when we had fourteen Heareach visitors sail over from Harris.They were entertained by the students and also the beautifull Gaelic singing of Catriona Watt from Stornoway who was in Taransay for the first time..Unsurprisingly Catriona won the talent competition that evening against stern competition..Catriona is also a wonderful fiddler as are the youger members of the group including Donna,Lindsy and William.
The commitee of the Fidhlearein Eilean an Fhreaoich would like to thank the following,Brownie,Tarbert,Mackays of Horgabost,Melinda,Gus,Tammy,Catherine and Isobel,Willie Macrae,Fish farm boys,Ardhasaig,,Scone,Angus John,Robert and the Tarbert hall commitee,Macleods Motel ,Alex Murray Diving Co,Rod Huckbody,Lewis and Harris Pipe Band,Woodys` Express Parcels,Carpet World,CNES,WIE,and all others who gave us their assistance.
The fiddle school is gaining in  popularity and is definatly now one of the annual  fiddle schools that fiddlers wish to attend nationally.Whilst trying to maintain quality, numbers have to be minimised.Hopefully this can be addressed in the future to allow even more musicians to visit Harris .Daily visits to and from mainland Harris are envisaged in the future.
Also it is envisaged that the yougsters in Harris can get  tuition from these excellent world class fiddle tutors in the future.Fidhleirean Eilean an Fhraoich are in discussion with Harris Arts and Leisure regarding this proposal.
Pete Cooper from London was very popular with his selection of material including American ragtime,Bulgarian and Bosnian music.This was a welcome break from continuous scottish music .All
the students appreciated the three Kopanistas from Bulgaria,and the Bessarabian (Moldovian)wedding dance.The american Pikes` Peak and East Tennesse Blues and also the ragtime tunes were especially popular.
Alistair White taught one of his own compositions “Amys` Extreme Snooker”,Seanamac Tube Station,some strathpeys and a scottische.He also demonstrated taught a Norwegian tune.We are quite proud of Alistair as he is home grown and has a future as a fiddle tutor.Also thanks to Alistair for his help on the boat on the wettest of days.
Patsy Reid was her wonderfull self teaching Cape Breton tunes Sandy Macyntyres trip to Boston and Stelles` trip to Kamloops.Patsy is a wonderfull teacher when it comes to ornamentation and has proved to be one of our favourites.Her percussion class”on the fiddle” proved very popular again this year.Patsys` new CD was sold out at the camp.
Alsion Macleod taught stepdancing all week and had a large class to contend with.As demonstrated at the concert they all perfomed very well with their new steps.
Mr Andy Thorburn was a busy man teaching keyboard and thanks also to Keith Morrison for helping Andy.Many students took an alternative subject on the fourth period of the day so Andy was kept busy teaching keyboards.
Finally the man himself Mr Alan Henderson.Not only did he give a piping masterclass but he stepped into the breach Wednesday morning to help Willie with the boat to take all the visitors across on the open day.In Alans` fiddle class he taught his own tune Kyle to Strathcarron as well as the two four march Duncan Henderson,and told many “yarns”
The original concept of Taransay was to involve as many local young fiddlers as possible to introduce them to “workshops”,”fiddle camps”,”tutors”.So far this has been successful as our young fiddlers are now comfortable with the concept.This has been achieved by introducing the youngsters to world class tutors like,Buddy Macmaster,Alan Henderson,Pete Cooper,Patsy Reid,Aly White,Ronan Martin,Alison Macleod.
The unique experience of being on Taransay for a week overshadowed the rather inclement weather.
The fabulous menus set up by Isobel and Catherine were a joy.As for Taransay itself may i quote Mr Allan Macleod,Inverness”The island is so interesting from the historical, flora and fauna etc point
of view that you could spend a week there with no music at all.”
Thanks also to Rod Huckbody,Maggie Macinnes,Ali Abassi,Calum Watt etc etc who came over to visit us on our open day.
The chairman would like to take this opportunity to thank all the backroom staff for doing a sterling job which included the logistical difficulties of transporting students and equipment safely to and from Taransay .
Thank You
Dolan Morrison

Taransay Fiddle School 2002

Taransay Fiddle School 2002 Report.

Tutors in Taransay at the 2002 fiddle camp were Buddy Macmaster,Cape Breton,Alan Henderson ,Lochaber,Patsy Reid ,Perth ,Alistair White,Stornoway.
There were advanced and intermediate classes  with an even split in both classes.Additional after school classes were available also for those that required additional tutoring.Thirty two paying students took part in classes.Many more could have been accommodated if services had allowed.
Gaelic conversation classes were also well attended with volunteers taking these classes as well as stepdancing.
The final ceilidh and concert in Tarbert were a success with both events  being very successful and well supported by Harris people and visitors alike.
All participants enjoyed a successful week with everybody wanting  a repeat every year.With a considerable amount of project finance being spent in Harris plus visitor spend
in b+b`s,hotels etc the Harris economy benefited from the presence of the fiddle school.Between students,tutors,staff and volunteers there were 40 people involved in the project in Taransay.If as rumoured there are to be additional toilet facilities installed at Taransay there is definitely room for expansion with the fiddle course.
One suggestion is to have a piano course running side by side with the fiddle course.

A part-time co-ordinator would definitely be a requirement next year do to excessive demands put on volunteers.

Some quotes from Taransay Fiddle School

Hello dolan, how are things? Am having a ball traveling around but somehow
think that Taransey will be one of the biggest highlights of the trip. I had an
absolutely fantastic time – well done to all of you who help make it such a
memorable experience.Lisa Christenson,Melbourne

The memorable thing about Taransay is that it was  much more than just
another fiddle school. I believe that the overall island experience of
getting there, living, and coping with the environment made the event
different and unique.Alex Sutherland,Errogie

In my opinion the tutors were excellent and were an integral part of the
overall experience.  Buddy clearly
enjoyed the experience and it was a bonus having his view on playing.  There
was no obvious split between tutors and the rest of us, as appears in some
(most) other courses. This could be attributed to the fact that everybody
had to muck in to make it work, but a lot of credit has to be given to the
natures of the four tutors.  I had many an evening/early morning yarning
with Allan and Alistair not to mention the fact that they were usually
available for a tune.Robbie Leask,Aberdeen

I want again to thank you and Woody (and everyone else with anything to
do with the organisation) for a fantastic week.Chris Davidson,England

Hi dolan, I thought the week was excellent.Angus Macdonald,Aberdeen

For me, it was a very special week spent with very special people and I feel
trully blessed to have had the opportunity to experience it all.Joy Hosie,Dundee

Back in Vermont now… Wow, what an incredible week that was – I’m still
reeling (ha ha)!  I cannot thank you enough. It was sheer magic. I also
wanted to thank you for the list of tunes.Susan Pufahl,Washington

Beautiful day the next day but spent all day
travelling on trains and things to get to the isle of
Harris off the west coast where all of us who were
going to a fiddle school thingy on Taransay (island
off Harris) met up in the pub and played a few tunes.
Nexty day a few of us did a wee tour of the Harris
beaches but it was too cold for swimming so we caught
the boat over to Taransay. Gorgeous uninhabited island
where people from BBC Tv series ‘castaway’ held
themselves captive for a year. We held ourselves
captive there for 6 days under the spell of various
great and wonderful fiddle tutors such as Buddy
McMaster from Canada, Alastair Whyte from Battlefield
Band, Patsy Reid (rhythm specialist extraordinaire, CD
out soon) and Allan Henderson from Blazin Fiddles. Or
just plain blazin. Lots of great tunes were learnt, or
started to learn,  played
football for the first time in years, played golf
first time ever, in a sheep field, went on a few great
walks around the island, one of which was with a local
historian who took us around all the old ruins from
when people used to live there, old  iron age
fortresses etc., and even managed a swim on a warm
day. Fantastic beaches and rocks, a bit similar to
Wilson’s Promontory but a bit smaller. Of course… We
had our own ceilidh in the marquee and got piped by
(one of the) mad Allan (‘s) from there to the kitchen
in the morning for our early morning cup o tea
and leftover soup. Everyone stranger or not got on
well and it was very sad to see the end of the week.
We had a finale concert and ceilidh back on Harris
which was a bit wild (never seen such a shimozzle made
of the Orcadian Strip the Willow) and then we all had
to say dismal farewells.
My friend Lisa from Melbourne had journeyed from there
to find me on Taransay after an epic 3 day trip using
plane, buses, ferry, car and  twin engined
rib and defeated the jetlag triumphantly.Melinda Moore,Aberdeen.

Fidhleirean an Fhraoich 2000/01

A Sample of Public Performances to 13/10/01

Dunoon Mod October 2000,

Tuesday-Appearance at Argyll Hotel Foyer.
Live appearance at Sinbads hotel.Audience,100
Wednesday-Live appearance with Irish fiddler
Gavin Pennicook
Live appearance at Clansman hotel.
Thursday-Appearance with local fiddlers Carnyx
Appearance for Gaelic choirs.Audience 200
Friday-Live appearance  plus workshop at Glasgow hotel with
fiddle groups from Dunoon,Gourock and Islay.
Evening appearance at Park hotel with Jon Atchinson.
Saturday-Live appearance on M.V.Suilven.Audience 150.

November 2000-Charity benefit performance for local
hospital.Audience approx 150.
Performance for Stornoway Rugby Football Club.
Recording for Tigh Cherseva (Uist) film Passing Places.
June 2001-Concert for Macmillan Cancer fundraising.
July 2001-Live appearance at Lewis and Harris accordion and Fiddle Club.
Live performance at Stornoway Golf club entertaining at
Western   Isles Championship.
Public performance with tutor Ronan Martin (Skye)at
Macneils Stornoway
Performance at rural wedding in Uig,Lewis.
Performance at Inverie,Knoyard .
August 2001-Concert performance at Tidh Donnachaidh,Ness,Lewis
Concert performance at St Marys` Hall Benbecula
Public performance at Orasay Inn,Benbecula
Public performance at Isle of Barra hotel ,Barra.
September 2001-Laxdale Gaelic Choir 50th anniversary concert.
October 2001-Appearance at Royal National Mob Fiddlers Rally.