Edinburgh Tradfest opens this week with an online concert from Shetland Springs: a celebration of the Shetland fiddle tradition. Recorded at Traverse 3 and presented by Edinburgh Tradfest in association with the Shetland Folk Festival, the concert will air at 20:00 on Friday 30 April – exactly 40 years after Shetland Folk Festival’s first ever gig. Curated by Catriona Macdonald (String Sisters), the hour-long gig will feature performances and conversation from Catriona and other luminaries from the northern isles, including Margaret Robertson, Chris Stout, and Ross Couper.
The main body of the Edinburgh Tradfest programme will be the Edinburgh Tradfest Podcast; a nine episode series presented by festival producers Douglas Robertson and Jane-Ann Purdy. New episodes will release every day of the festival and feature tracks and interviews with Edinburgh Tradfest performers past and present, as well as audio diaries and stories from some of Scotland’s most respected traditional artists.
Episode one will drop on Saturday 1 May with Douglas and Jane-Ann getting the low-down from folk musician royalty Eliza Carthy, and fiddler Kevin Henderson (Boys of Lough, Nordic Fiddlers Bloc). Edinburgh Tradfest wanted to create a portable online festival, which can be enjoyed at your leisure as the weather improves. Here’s everything you can tune in to:
Episode 2, Sun 2 May
Douglas and Jane-Ann chat to Aaron Jonah Lewis, and revisit Edinburgh Tradfest’s collaborative music project, Wild Mountain Thyme, which was released to mark what would have been the start of last year’s cancelled festival.
Episode 3, Mon 3 May
Douglas and Jane-Ann interview Lizabett Russo about her cross-continent album Ensemble Eorpa, and catch-up with fiddler Mike Vass. Plus a day in the life of Kinnaris Quintet.
Episode 4, Tues 4 May
Canadian bluegrass/folk singer and multi-instrumentalist J.P. Cormier speaks to Douglas and Jane-Ann, and the pair sit down with Scottish folk band Malinky.
Episode 5, Wed 5 May
Douglas and Jane-Ann sit down with all-female folk band The Shee, and Skye piper Malin Lewis speaks to the Finnish Frigg.
Episode 6, Thurs 6 May
Edinburgh Tradfest co-producers Douglas and Jane-Ann speak with Celtic music group Old Blind Dogs, and Virgina born now Ireland based A J Roach about musical influences.
Episode 7, Fri 7 May
The first Doctor of Artistic Research in Scottish Music, Lori Watson sits down with Douglas and Jane-Ann, and fiddlers Sam Sweeney and Laura Wilkie discuss the differences between Scots and English fiddle traditions.
Episode 8, Sat 8 May
Douglas and Jane-Ann talk to the polyrhythmic duo of Evie Ladin and Keith Terry, and we experience a day in the life of Gaelic supergroup Dàimh.
Episode 9, Sun 9 May
In this final episode Douglas and Jane-Ann interview Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary; and folk-singer Steve Byrne looks back on the life of Eberhard ‘Paddy’ Bort.
These conversations will be interspersed with tracks and stories from across folk music; witness the origin story of cutting-edge klezmer band Moishe’s Bagel with Moishe’s Fables; relive hilarious touring mishaps with Shooglenifty; and gain an insight into lockdown life for a folk musician from Daoirí Farrell, Project Smok, and The Shee.
Elsewhere on screen, the Scottish Storytelling Centre will host the online launch of Scotland Online: A Directory of Musicians (Friday 7 May 20:00), a comprehensive and ever-expanding list of musicians working and recording in Scotland. Presented by the Traditional Music Forum and TRACS, the launch will feature special pre-recorded performances by Rachel Hair & Ron Jappy, Maeve Mackinnon (with Ali Hutton & Luc McNally) and David Foley & Jack Smedley (with Jenn Butterworth), as well as a live Q&A with the artists.
Finally on Monday 10 May, Edinburgh Tradfest presents its live streamed finale, the much-anticipated Rebellious Truth from St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh and presented in partnership with the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The evening will explore our passion for the traditional arts, its history and future, and will mix live performances and presentations from School of Scottish Studies Traditional Artist in Residence Mike Vass accompanied by Mairearad Green, and Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart.
Douglas Robertson and Jane-Ann Purdy, co-producers of Edinburgh Tradfest said: “To feel some kinship with musicians throughout the world who have been forced to learn new skills in the past year, we have been educating ourselves in the wonderful world of podcasting. It’s been a steep, fast curve but we’re actually pretty happy with how it’s turned out – our guests were certainly very gracious and patient with us. The guests are the stars for sure, and you’ll see that with very few exceptions we’ve been able to include all the artists who should have played last year (and this year) at the festival. We are excited to reach a wider, international audience who might not have experienced the festival before with the online programme this year, and hope that when they can, they will join us in Edinburgh for future Tradfests.”
Siobhan Anderson, Music Officer at Creative Scotland said: “Since the start of the pandemic artists have found ever-more inventive ways to keep their creativity flowing and connect with their audiences. Thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players, Creative Scotland is delighted to support this online edition of Tradfest, celebrating the diversity of Scotland’s trad scene, shining a brighter light on our home-grown talent and keeping the folk and trad scene in the public eye and ear until live events can return indoors and to the festival circuit.”
The Edinburgh Tradfest Podcast will release episodes daily between Saturday 1 – Sunday 9 May and will be available to listen to on the Edinburgh Tradfest website, apple itunes and Spotify. Theme tune Silence of the Tram by Angus R Grant, performed and arranged by Shooglenifty.
Edinburgh Tradfest 2021 will run Friday 30 April – Monday 10 May.
For tickets and more information visit edinburghtradfest.com.