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The Music Hall George Barclay-Vocalist George Elrick Bobby Pratt-Trumpeter Bothy Ballads


Aberdeen City Music School (ACMS) is a national specialist centre of excellence of the highest quality serving the whole of Scotland. ACMS caters for young people with well above average musical ability, and offers a specialist music curriculum within the comprehensive secondary setting of Dyce Academy. This exciting music school has been made possible as a result of funding from the Scottish Government

Aberdeen City Music School
Dyce Academy
Riverview Drive
AB21 7LF
Tel: 01224 774773

Aberdeen Music Centre

Northfield Academy
Granitehill Place
AB16 7AU
Main Contact - Music Co-ordinator
Ken McLeod
Music Co-ordinator
Tel: 01224 717524
Aims to provide the opportunity for young people to play together in bands, orchestras etc in addition to the facilities offered in schools 


Bob Knight
Guitarist & Composer

Until late 2004, no one on the Scottish folk music scene had ever heard of Bob Knight, not even in his native Aberdeen. Bob had spent his entire musical career playing in professional and semi-professional bands in Aberdeen, but it was only when he stopped playing regularly in 2001, and after a gap of two years, that he started writing songs in late 2003 using his Doric mother tongue.

As Bob explained, "I'd been playing in bands for over thirty years, and due to the type of material being performed, had always sang in an American accent. When I started writing my own songs, I was determined right from the outset, before writing even one single word, that this time I would be singing in my own voice."  Between September 2003, and August 2004, Bob wrote around twenty songs. Not quite sure how these would be accepted in the folk scene, he started going to the occasional pub folk session, then to Aberdeen Folk Club, to perform, and gauge the audience reaction to his songs. "Initially I was worried that they might think I was just some chancer, but happily, right from the word go, I've received nothing but help, and encouragement from everyone I've met."

While Bob has always had an interest in folk music, even buying the occasional album by the likes of Planxty, The Bothy Band, and Silly Wizard, he readily admits to there being large gaps in his knowledge of the folk scene.  "At first I thought that was a disadvantage, but eventually I realised that what it really meant was that I hadn't been influenced by anybody else. If you come to see me, that's what you'll get - me! I haven't modelled my singing style on anyone, because quite frankly, I didn't really know anyone else. It's that simple."

Of course, no musician is entirely un-influenced by what goes on around him, and Bob is no exception. His musical interests range from Classical to Country, but for his Scottish influences he owes much to his mother's family: his uncles, aunts, and numerous cousins who sing, play bagpipes, fiddle, accordion, piano and guitar.  "There always seemed to be music around when I was growing up. Pipers seemed to outnumber every other instrument by about three to one, which probably explains their love of grace notes when singing. I think a little of that has rubbed off on me too!"
Bob' Knights Myspace

The High-kilted Muse: Peter Buchan and His Secret Songs of SilenceThe High-Kilted Muse:
Peter Buchan and and his
Secret Songs of Silence
This is a brilliantly entertaining collection of over 70 bawdy songs and ballads gathered in Scotland during the early 1800s. In 1832 the Scottish ballad collector Peter Buchan presented an anthology of risqué and convivial songs and ballads dedicated to a Highland Laird. When Professor Francis James Child of Harvard was preparing his magisterial edition of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, he made enquiries about it, but it was not made available in time to be considered for his work. On his death it was presented to the Child Memorial Library at Harvard. Because of its indecorous content, the manuscript has languished there ever since.

The High-Kilted Muse is a magnificent volume that brings the manuscript – its songs and ballads – to life. The edition features an introduction to the compiler, including a treatment of the so-called ‘Peter Buchan controversy’, and the Scottish bawdy tradition, as well as the fully annotated text of more than 70 bawdy songs and ballads. The volume fills a great gap in the study of the lewd.

Peter Buchan was born in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, in 1917. A fisherman's son, Peter was educated at Peterhead Academy until he left school to "go to sea" at the age of 16. He married Agnes Cowe, a local "quine" in 1940, and later had two daughters, Agnes and Alison.  Peter's first collection of poems, "Mount Pleasant" was published in 1961. He then began to write short stories portraying the middle ground in fisher life which had formerly been portrayed at the two extremes of either drunkenness or religious fanaticism and he found a large readership for his work both at home and abroad.

He broadcast regularly on radio and was interviewed several times on television following publications of books. He was vice-president of the Buchan Heritage Society from 1988-90, then Patron until his death. He also edited five editions of the society's magazine "Heirskip" (inheritance) from 1987-91.  For many years Peter Buchan was the voice of Scotland's North East fisher community, dispensing wisdom and good humour in his poems and short stories. A great interest in people provided the main source of his inspiration to write. "Human naitur" he called it, and his observations around his home town and further afield, in the fishing ports from Stornaway to Yarmouth, resulted in many marvellous character studies.

He was unique, writing mostly in his native North East Dialect, exactly as he spoke it every day of his life. He was one of the caretakers of the rich beautiful language and used it with great skill when describing the lives of the fisher folk. Peter died in Peterhead on 12th December 1991.

Bothy Balladeers
Willie Kemp’s songs didn’t stand comparison with those of his brother-in-law. George Morris, who sang mostly his own material, also relied heavily on gross women and slapstick, but he was a much cleverer wordsmith.

His songs are much easier to sing. The Hash o Bennagoak, Neeps tae Pluck and Muckle Friday Fair have an authentic ring of the 'ferm touns' that Willie didn’t often achieve. The Buchan Bobby portrayed left here by George Morris and A New Lum Hat are comic party pieces. The Buchan Plooman and Aikey Brae are just very good songs.  



The Lum Hat Wantin' The Croon  - a top hat with its lid adrift.

The burn was big wi' spate 
And there cam tumblein' doon, 
Topsalterie, the half of a gate 
An auld fish-hake, and a great muckle skate, 
And a lum hat wantin' th' croon

The auld wife stood on th' bank, 
As they gied swirlin' roon, 
She took a guid look, and syne says she, 
"There's food and there's firin' gaen tae th' sea, 
And a lum hat wantin' th' croon!"

So she gruppit th' branch of a saugh, 
And she kickit off ane of her shoon, 
An' she stuck oot her fit, but it caught in the gate, 
An' awa' she went wi' th' great muckle skate, 
An' a lum hat wantin' th' croon!

She floated fu' many a mile, 
Past cottage and village and toon, 
She'd an awfu' time astride of the gate, 
Though it seemed t'gree fine wi' th' great muckle skate, 
And the lum hat wantin' th' croon!

A fisher was waukin' th' deck, 
By the licht of his pipe and th' moon, 
When he sees an auld body astride of a gate, 
Come bobbin' along in the waves wi' a skate, 
And a lum hat wantin' th' croon!

"There's a man overboard!" cries he, 
"Ye hear?" quo she, "I'll droon! 
A man overboard? It's a wife on a gate! 
It's auld Mistress Mackintosh here wi' a skate, 
And a lum hat wantin' th' croon!

Was she nippit tae death at th' Pole? 
Has India bakit her broon? 
I canna tell that, but whatever her fate, 
I'll wager ye'll find t'was shared by a gate, 
And a lum hat wantin' th' croon!

There's a moral attached tae my song: 
On greed ye should aye gie a froon! 
When ye think of the wife that was lost for a gate, 
An auld fish hake and a great muckle skate, 
And a lum hat wantin' th' croon!

Meaning of scots words: 
tapselterie - topsy-turvey 
fish hake - fish hook 
lum hat - top hat 
syne - since 
saugh - willow 
shoon - shoe 
skate - flat rayfish 
gree - be in harmony 
nippit - frozen


The Strategic Music Partnership is funded by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils and the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) through Creative Scotland and is supported by the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. The partnership aims to promote a fresh, cross boundary approach to the planning and delivery of music activity for children and young people aged up to 25 across the north east of Scotland.

Aerdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra
Presently rehearsals take place in Portlethen or Inverurie Academy 5.30pm – 7.30pm. Members are required to make their own way to rehearsals. Membership is free. This is a Youth Music Initiative Project, funded by the Scottish Government via Creative Scotland
Aberdeenshire Jazz Ensemble.

South Aberdeenshire Music Centre Big Band

Aberdeenshire Jazz Ensemble,

Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra
Lineup (in alphabetical order)
karen addison, gary gibb, laura henry, norman moy, caitlin o'carroll
trombones: scott anison, joe leonard, eddie macgovern, emma macleod, kieran Macleod
trumpets: gerry dawson, jennifer gourlay, alan haggart, kevin haggart, james marr, edward marr, pauline wallace
piano: jim Addison
guitar: colin black
bass: bryan Chalmers
drums: sandy nicol
percussion: chris overton
marisha addison

Lemon Tree
The Lemon Tree began life as St Katherine's Club, built in the 1930s by the Young Woman's Christian Organisation as an activity centre to keep women off the streets of Aberdeen. Originally it hosted regular, strictly alcohol-free dances, and many a local resident met their future spouse at such occasions. The venue remained a popular local fixture, and during the 1980s, changing its name to St. K's, the dances continued while housing various community arts groups and a vegetarian restaurant.  The Lemon Tree entered a new and exciting chapter in its history. Aware of what The Lemon Tree has come to mean not only in the city but nationwide, Aberdeen Performing Arts strives to continue the tradition of showcasing the very best musicians in the downstairs 550-capacity Lounge. Talented young jazz musicians from Aberdeen Music Centre perform at The Lemon Tree Lounge. Jazz Bands are part of the Music Centre programme and meet on a weekly basis to rehearse.  They feature the best of Aberdeen's young musicians, many of whom also play in the other bands and orchestras at the Centre. A good evening of foot-tapping music is guaranteed!

Aberdeen Jazz Festival

Blue Lamp
121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen AB25 1BU. Tel: 0845 111 0302 (Over 18s only)
The great jazz club atmosphere at The Blue Lamp has been central to the success of the Festival in the past, and The Lamp is the heart of the Festival
"Probably the best jazz club in Britain" (The Scotsman). Inviting and intimate the Blue Lamp's cabaret style seating allows audiences to experience top class jazz up close and personal.

Club Sapphire is Aberdeen's only exclusive late night Champagne, Cocktail & Cabaret Piano Club.
Club Sapphire, 62-64 Shiprow, Aberdeen, AB11 5BY
Kate Gieben Jazz Band live on stage at Club Sapphire.

Kate, Col, Grigor and Bill

Photo of MARY MAY - JAZZ SINGERMary May - Jazz Singer

Mary May started singing on the club scene before concentrating on singing jazz a few years ago, and has since sung with some of the greatest jazz musicians in Scotland.  She has sung at many of the top jazz venues in Scotland, including the Blue Lamp Jazz Club and The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen,  Henry's Cellar Bar in Edinburgh, as well as taking part in Glasgow Jazz Festival and Callander Jazz Festival with her own Quartet. She has been reviewed as one of Scotland's best Jazz Singers, and as a natural improviser.  Check her website for Jazz artwork.

Her sound has been described as a 'cross between Nancy Wilson and Eartha Kitt' and her interpretations and phrasing has won praise from such great jazz luminaries as Nancy Kelly, Jimmy Scott, Cleve Douglass, Mark Murphy and Sheila Jordan.

James Scott Skinner

James Skinner was born in Arbeadie village, in the parish of Banchory-Ternan, Aberdeenshire, on the 5th August 1843. His father William Skinner, a dance teacher, had been a gardener until a shotgun (fired as part of wedding celebrations) took off three fingers of his left hand. After his accident, he learned to play his fiddle by holding the bow (instead of the fiddle), with his damaged left hand. James’s mother Mary Agnew came from Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. James was the youngest of six children.

William Skinner died in 1845. Seven years later, Mary Skinner remarried, so James moved to Aberdeen, where he lived with his sister Annie and attended Connell’s School.

Alexander Forbes Skinner (1833–1883) taught his young brother James to play tunes on the violin, and to ‘vamp’, or play a bass line on the cello. By the time he was eight, James was playing the cello at dances with local fiddler Peter Milne (1824–1908), who came from Kincardine o’ Neill, Aberdeenshire.

As there were no village halls, dances were usually held in barns. Young James often had to trudge many miles to play at these dances. For this, Peter Milne paid him five shillings (25p) a month.

In 1855, ‘Dr Mark’s Little Men’, a boys’ touring group, visited Aberdeen. Sandy arranged for James to audition with them. James, by now aged eleven, signed up for a six-year apprenticeship (on cello and violin). The boys, who were based in Manchester, performed throughout Britain. In return, Dr Mark fed, clothed, and educated them.

By the 1870s, Skinner was giving concerts all over the North-east of Scotland. The programmes normally included some of his own compositions as well as virtuoso violin solos by such composers as Paganini, or his old teacher, Charles Rougier.

Skinner made his first recording in Glasgow, in 1899. He was one of the very first Scottish artists to be recorded. By 1905, he had embarked on a recording career, which lasted until 1922. In this way, his music spread worldwide. During this time, he continued to perform in concerts throughout Scotland. In 1911, at Sir Harry Lauder’s suggestion, he formed ‘The Caledonian Four’ who performed in that year at the opening of the London Palladium

In 1922 he bought his first (and only) house at 25 Victoria Street, Aberdeen, where he lived with his housekeeper, Mrs Lily Richards. Four years later, he was invited to take part in a fiddle competition in the United States. He went, but unhappy with the competition rules, refused to take part. He returned to Aberdeen, where he died the following year, on 17 March 1927.   His many friends and admirers raised a subscription for a marble memorial at his grave in Allenvale Cemetery, Aberdeen. This was unveiled in 1931 by Sir Harry Lauder, an old friend. The memorial includes a bronze bust of Skinner, a violin, and some bars from one of his most famous compositions, ‘The Bonnie Lass o’ Bon Accord’.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013