Latest News @ 8th January 2016.

Happy New Year a’bdy.

I hope the weather is not treating you too badly.
Had a nice steady finish to ’15 so as usual it’s time to kick off the haggis season.
Sometimes being semi-retired doesn’t look quite so easy. It appears some people have just woken up to the fact that it’s Burns night in a couple of weeks. Every day the phone rings
with someone  enquiring if I’m available to stab a haggis or toast the lassies. It looks quite hectic to me but I’m sure I’ll cope. The bus pass and the senior railcard will be working overtime.

Below is what’s on at the moment. Presumably it will get busier. I’ll let you know.

Key: BS = Burns Supper. P = Private.
Fri 15th.  Auchterhouse  Village Hall. Angus. WRI  BS.  7.30pm
Sat 16th  Milnathort. BS. P.
Mon 18th.  Windlestrae Hotel, Kinross. KVO. BS. 7.30
Sat 23rd.  Scotlandwell BS.
Sun 24th.  Claymore Htl. Arrochar.
Wed 27th. Riverdale Htl, Bellingham, Northumberland. BS. (Contact Htl for details).
Thu 28th.  Darlington FC. BS. (google it)
Fri 29th.  Blyth BS. P.
Fri 5th.  MacKay’s Hotel, Pitlochry. Bar with Neil Paterson. 8.00pm.
Sat 6th.  Fettercairn Hall BS.
Sat 13th.  The Salmon Bothy, Portsoy. “Burns and Bothy Ballads”. 8.00pm
Fri 18th.  MacKay’s Hotel, Pitlochry. Bar with Neil Paterson.  8.00pm.
Fri 22nd. MacKay’s Hotel, Pitlochry. Bar with Neil Paterson. 8.00pm.

LATEST NEWS @ 28thTH May 2015.

It has been a while since I have updated this bit. I’ve gradually been settling into the semi-retirement thing and I have to say I’m enjoying it.

Now that all the planning for the future has been done I can relax and not worry about what lies ahead. Not having to cope with the hassle of organising tours two years ahead is a blessed relief.

To all those who stayed the course when things were hard over the last twelve years, thank you. I wouldn’t have survived without you.

I really enjoyed the final tours last year. The gigs were all great, even the clubs I’ve never played before and not having to worry about being asked back proved my point that retirement is a liberating experience. No more of that silly driving hundreds of miles to work for me any more.

I’ve got a wee regular bus party gig in Arrochar on Wednesdays just to keep my hand in and some bits and pieces that I think I’ll enjoy doing for old friends and new audiences. If I don’t enjoy them I’ll stop doing them.

As I’ve said before, if you have something that looks interesting, fun or Burnsian give me a call.


Here are the few dates that I’m doing ‘til the end of the year.
If any more come in I’ll try to update the list.

Wednesdays ‘til 16th December: Claymore Hotel, Arrochar. 9.00pm.

Fri 29th.  MacKay’s Hotel, Pitlochry. 8.00pm. (w/ Neil Paterson
Sat 30th.  Portsoy 6th Haal. Town Hall, Portsoy. Aberdeenshire. 7.30pm.

Sat 24th.  Balbedie Fly-In. Balbedie Farm. Scotlandwell. 8.00pm.

Fri 31st.  MacKay’s Hotel, Pitlochry. 8.00pm. (w/ Neil).


Fri 14th.  Saltburn Folk Festival. Tees-side.
Sat 15th.  Saltburn Folk Festival. Tees-side. Various.
(Go to festival website for programme).

Fri 11th.  MacKay’s Hotel, Pitlochry. 8.00pm. (w/Neil)


5TH JUNE 2014.
Not long to go now.

Had a lovely time on the last tour at the beginning of April. Welcoming audiences and old friends to say farewell in the South and Yorkshire. Thanks all.               

However, every mile crawling along the M1 or M6 at 50MPH convinced me that I’m doing the right thing. This is no way for an ageing troubadour on his own to try to make a living.          

Just to clear things up. I’m not completely retiring from performing. I’m just giving up touring around folk clubs. It’s a part of my life that has shrunk in the last few years to the extent that it’s not economically viable any more. One final tour around the North of England in September and that’s me done.
I’ll still be stabbing haggises in January, entertaining coach parties in the Summer, a bit of after dinner blethering and the occasional Village Hall or Festival as it comes.  If you have anything that you think might suit my unique talents give me a call or e-mail. Details elsewhere on the site.

We’re (Neil Paterson & me) probably going to do a few nights with “THE LIFE & SONGS OF JOHN WATT” show next year so look out for that.                              The DVD of the show should be on the order form as you read this. Book it for your festival next year. A wonderful way to pass a couple of hours of an afternoon


Happy New Year to all.

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Hi all,

Just a quick update 'cos I'm running on another machine here.

As you can see a couple of gigs have been added to the September tour.

I'm really cutting it fine taking on the last gig on 23rd Sept when I become a government liability on 24th.

Hope to see some of you on the road.

“The Life & Songs Of John Watt” show with myself and Neil Paterson is bookable for festivals, Arts Centres and larger clubs. There’s a DVD of the show available to buy. Contact me.

Delighted to say I’ve been booked for Whitby Folk Week again this year. I hope it’s not for the last time.

Unfortunately my annoying wound has flared up again so it looks like I’ll have to take some time to get it fixed. Probably March. Shouldn’t be out for long though.

Here’s the up to date gig list:

Code: (BS)– Burns Supper.  (P) – Private function. (FC) – Folk Club.

Tue 1st.   4 Chestnuts, Chichester FC. 8.00pm
Wed 2nd. Cottingham Live FC. The Back Room. Cottingham. 8.00pm
Fri 4th.     The Song Loft FC. Cock Htl. Stony Stratford. 8.00pm.
Wed 9th.  Dunfermline FC. Thistle Tavern. 8.30pm.

Fri 11th. Great Western Htl. Oban. 9.00pm.

Fri 18th. Great Western Htl. Oban. 9.00pm.
Sat 26th. Wags Dinner. Inverurie Town Hall. (Booking essential)

Fri 2nd.   McKay’s Htl. Pitlochry. 8.00pm. (With Neil Paterson).
Sat 3rd.  Fife Arms Htl. Braemar. 8.30pm.
Sat 24th. Dundonald Bowling Club. Ayrshire. (With Mike Whellans). 8.30pm.
Sat 31st. Fife Arms Htl. Braemar. 8.30pm. (Orwell Ceilidh Band)

LATEST NEWS  @ Sunday 27th November 2013.

First of all, apologies for the long gap between newsletters.
A combination of health and technical illiteracy has meant that I’ve lost files and stuff from the site but was unable to sort the problems. This post should mean that we’re back on track. Thank you Robin.


I’m going back into hospital on 18th November for what I hope is the final repair job. The wound has refused to heal despite the valiant attempts of the lovely people at Kinross Health Centre and PRI so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed.
Not during the operation I hope. Out of action until the festive season.

On the work front I had a grand time at Saltburn and Whitby festivals in August.
It’s nice to meet with old friends again and the hills and walks in Whitby mean I ended the week fitter than I have been for some time.
Also had a lovely night MCing at the Trad Music Awards Hall Of Fame Dinner in Glasgow a few weeks ago. Many old memories were revived that night.

I have recently announced my intention to retire from active folk club work in September 2014. It’s so difficult to organise tours nowadays and the price of petrol means that it’s not financially viable to do one club visits. My folk club work has become so sparse over the last couple of years that, honestly, I can afford to walk away without it having an impact on my income. Especially as next year I will receive my old age pension. As my old pal Martin Wyndham Read says: “It’s the first regular income we’ve ever had.”
Thanks to all the clubs who have given me work over the last half century and thanks to the ones who have booked me for next year’s Final Trawl Tour.
 Still some spaces left in the diary if you’re quick.

What about this elusive DVD?  I hear you ask.
It’s definitely out next week and I should have a box to send out tomorrow.
I’m really pleased with it. A collection of performances seamlessly stitched together and pretty much representative of what I do live. Absolute snip @ £10 a go.
Should have it on the order form when this goes out.

More stuff more regularly from now on.






Enjoyed return visits to Coatham Mundeville and Penicuik folk clubs at the start of the month.

Then had a quiet festive season before my regular pre-Hogmanay night in Pitlochry.

At home on Hogmanay for the first time in many years. Jeez the telly is bowff.

Sorry I missed Fort William on 1st Jan. Nasty, slidey snow made progress past Dalwhinnie impossible.


The Haggis Season is upon us once again. From as far north as Rosehall in Sutherland to the dusty coast of Espana the slaughter of the beasts continues unabated. In castles and five star hotels The Prince of Haggis Hackers (that's me) plies his gory trade to the delight of carnivores and Burns lovers and the peril of his insides. I love it.

Also enjoyed nights at Arts Centres in Alnwick and Halifax with the delightful Lyra Celtica and virtuoso fiddler, Archie McAlistair. I could do with more of that.


In this month and on this spot, nothing happened.

LOOK FORWARD TO: Milnathort Folk Festival 13/14 March.

Sat 20th March, Wighton Centre, DUNDEE. Capucino concert, 11.00am.


ST ANDREW'S DAY. PATRON SAINT OF SCOTLAND (and several other countries).


October is a pretty bog standard, head down and do it month but it's marked by two rather sad/celebratory days.

Down to Buckinghamshire on 11th for the memorial concert for big Matt Armour. A packed house in the Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford is treated to an epic concert lasting seven hours featuring, among others whom Matt befriended and encouraged: Isla St Clair, Mike Silver, Paul Downes, Derek Brimstone (For whom a career as an after dinner speaker surely beckons in his senior years), Di Henderson, Jon Harvison, Richard Grainger and yours truly. Well done to all who worked so hard to put it together and to the audience for lasting the pace.

Edinburgh on 20th for the funeral of my friend, singing partner, songwriter and the talented part of Bitter Withy, Lesley Hale. Cancer took her in a matter of months and I am shocked and broken hearted that she's gone. Once again I am asked to sing at Mortonhall Crematorium. This is the strangest residency I have ever had and I would gladly give it up. The service is understated and features Lesley's own songs and eulogies from her nearest and dearest. No fuss. Just the way she would have liked it, well done Becky.


Now this is interesting purely from the diversity of the gigs.

The Carrying Stream Festival in Edinburgh. One night in the Pleasance with Margaret Bennet and Jimmy Hutchison swapping songs and stories of our long involvement with this scene we call folk. V enjoyable.

Then stand up speaking at my pal Tam's golf club past captains dinner followed by the Wit's Dinner in Irvine.

Then off to sunny Spain for the traditional San Andreas celebrations with Davy Vernon on accordion and A. Ramage on other things. (That's two years in a row so it's traditional)

AND a night at The English Folk Club in Torrevieja. Yup, a bona fide folk club on the Costa. Who woulda believed it?

Well you have to now.

End of month back to Perth Royal infirmary for a change in medication to try and stabilise the dicky ticker.

Everybody's heart beats in march time but mine goes off on slip jigs two or three times a day. Not good.

Serves me right for learning it. Damn you Tilston for writing such great songs.

Compliments of the season to all our readers. See you when the haggises are in bloom.




What a month. Starts off playing for her majesty at Thirlestane Castle in the the borders.

THEN off to Switzerland with The Tich Frier Band to play for an audience of 3000 people at Pipefest in Basel.

We fly into Geneva and train it to Basel which, for once, gives us a chance to see more of this beautiful country.

Did you know thay have vineyards in Switzerland? Neither did I

I also start some wee cardiac tests to see how the old ticker is doing. More news at a later date.


Edinburgh Fringe. Folk at the Oak for one night only. Quite enjoyed that. Met one or two people I haven't seen for a very long time.

On to Saltburn International Folk Festival where, after a very raucous Friday night I settle into a lovely day of performances on Saturday. Meet up with Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby. Brian reminds me that we first met on a BBC TV show called "Show of the North" about 40 years ago and here we are still doing it and discussing our various ailments like you do.

Next comes "FEVA" festival in Knaresborough with old pals "The Drouthy Band" then on to WHITBY FOLK WEEK! HOORAH. My favourite spot on the festival calendar as you are well aware. Meeting with old friends and new and generally having a lovely time at the seaside. I wish I could do it every year.


Various regularish things in Ft. William, Inverbeg and Banchory bring me up to the annual hols. "Oh this year I'm off to sunny Spain, y viva etc". I'll be 60 on the 24th. A pensioner at last. Isn't the NHS wonderful.




A quiet month. Everybody waiting to see if anyone is going on holiday or even out.

Pleasurable nights at Irvine and Tarland folk clubs though. Thank you all.

Start rehearsing with the band for Pipefest 2009 in Basel, Switzerland.


Now things are beginning to get a bit busier. Excellent nights at folk clubs in Aberdeen, Quarter and Coatham Mundeville (Near Darlington). Kinross Model Flying Club's annual do goes with a swing as always. I share the bill with a band from Dundee called; "Independence". Great fun.


What a start to the month. Down to Thirlestane Castle in the Scottish Borders to perform with fellow Vipers Brian Miller and Mike Whellans along with honorary member, for the day, Alan Small on accordion. We are in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and we entertain the assembled throng over lunch in the grounds. Sun shines, have a wonderful time and Her Majesty (via an equerry) asks what the tune was that we played her out with. It was "We're No Awa Tae Bide Awa" since you ask.

The rest of the month is filled with concerts, funerals, weddings, Switzerland and balls. Don't ask!





Into the usual haggis detox and back to folk clubs in Newtongrange and The Wee Folk Club in Edinburgh. An enjoyable, if quiet month with one of those strange weekends in the middle where I do entirely different things every night.

Friday; After Dinner Speech, Saturday; Play guitar in ceilidh band, Sun; Folk Club. It keeps me on my toeses I supposes.

End of the month down to Stony Stratford, Bucks for the funeral of my ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; Matt Armour. Over the years Matt and I set the world to rights with the aid of many bottles of single malt. There are several festivals which will never be the same without him and he will be missed by many. Other friends there to wave him goodbye include John Silvo, Di Henderson, Pete Coe, Derek Brimstone (Happy retirement Del) and Isla St Clair who I haven't seen in a long time. Isla is looking wonderful which is more than can be said for the rest of us ageing troubadours. With the exception of the glorious Ms H. of course.


If it's March it must be Milnathort. Despite venue changes and financial restrictions this years Crackin' Ceilidh Weekend is a great success. It obviously hasn't runout of steam yet.

End of the month starts a wee jaunt south of the border. First times for me at Grimsby and Reading v. enjoyable. Thanks for coming along Clive, Eddie and Karen. Great to see you all again. Discover a new club in Overton, Hants which I hope to return to later in the year. Thanks to Tom And Aeryn for your hospitality again. The Song Loft in Stony Stratford obviously empty without Matt but the committee have got themselves together and are working hard to keep the club one of the most satisfying places to play on the club circuit.


Festivals in Dunure and Glenfarg. Another rip roaring night at the Dunure Inn in Ayrshire. They can keep asking me back to that as long as they like. The wonderful singing crowd at Glenfarg is enough to lift any performer. Nice to be back after such a long time.

Thankyou Stirling FC. for being there since my childhood days.

I've started my semi-regular stints in Inverbeg and Banchory so should see out the Summer without ending up in the grubber.



Interesting month; November. Entertaining at The Wits Dinner in Irvine followed by a trip to Daya Nuevo in Spain for an early St. Andrew's Night celebration. Fly out to Alicante on Monday in time for a Parade through the town and hoisting of the Spanish and Scottish flags side by side. Then to the superbly appointed Civic Arts Centre for a concert with Pete Clark, David Vernon, The New Alliance Singers and Willie Hume and his pipers. I have to work hard on my spanish to greet the mayor and his dignitaries formally but manage to get through it without a hitch. Only afterwards do I realise that I forgot to translate back into english so some people still don't know what I said. Informal concert the next night in a local hotel. A bit rowdy but still we had some laughs and some drams.

Straight home and off down the M6 for a short tour south of the border. My apologies again for my late arrival at Croydon FC. When you get lost around London, you really get lost.

Many thanks to all at The Topic FC in Bradford and The Cricket Club FC in Guisborough for grand nights. See you soon I hope.


Had a great time at The Acoustic Music Club in The Polish Club (Hoi!) Kirkcaldy.

Otherwise too quiet but finished off the year at Pitlochry and South Queensferry without interference from the weather.


Thanks Stonehaven FC. A bit strange starting the year with a normal folk club gig we who were there enjoyed it.

Now what do you think I did the rest of the month?

My "One Man's Burns" show is very well received in Rosehall, Banchory and Guisborough. I hope to do more of these in 2010 or through the year of "Homecoming 2009". It's ideal for small arts venues or music clubs who want to have a Burns event without having to assemble several different speakers and performers.

Haggises are duly despatched in Blyth, Banchory(again), Laurencekirk, Brechin and Stonehaven.

Now I'm in apres haggii detox for a few days and happy to tell my physicians that the pains are infrequent enough to get by.






What a fun time this was. It's a bi-annually held competition for rugby players of a certain age to play in a spirit of sport and competition, bring their families and mates and generally have a hoot for a week. People from all the rugby playing nations came to Edinburgh to renew and nourish friendships and have a great time. Three days entertaining, emceeing, hosting competitions and even running the karaoke stretched my skills and I met some lovely people from all over the world. Loved it.

Holiday in the sun. Loved that too.


Folk club appearances at Dunfermline and Balerno (too long away from there) and a wee festival in Swinton, Manchester.

All went well and thanks to Gifford, Ged, Rod and Anne for booking me and the people who came. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as me.

Off to see Scotland -V- NZ on Saturday. Hope these nasty All Blacks don't do too much damage to our wee lads.

Looking forward to the fiesta in Daya Nuevo 17th to 19th Nov and the wee south of the border tour that follows.

I hope to see some of you at the stops on the road.




Well obviously I'm not doing a lot because I'm stuck at home recovering from major surgery.

Now hopefully all the holes are repaired and the gall bladder has gone so in a few months I can look forward to the longest period of good health I've had for some time. I quite like this idea of "the less you've got the less can go wrong" so in a few years I should have a body like a Citroen 2CV. However I am reminded of the words of the great seer Hamish Imlach who said: "Remember that good health is only the slowest possible way to die". He's right you know.

I ease my way back to work with the Annual Oatmeal Dinner at The Grassic Gibbon Centre in Arbuthnott. Angus. This year I'm charged with writing and delivering "The Address Tae The Porridge". Now if you find you have some porridge which is in need of addressment in the future, I'm your man!

I also have rather a good night in front of an enthusiastic audience at Falkirk folk club on 29th. Enjoyed that, thanks folks.


Filled with regular nights at Ft. William, Banchory and Luss. I know it's nice to have regular work but for someone like me who actually enjoys getting around different parts of the country it's a bit like Groundhog Day.

It's broken up by going to other people's work to see legends; Elton John in Perth, Tom Waits in Edinburgh and St Andrew and the Rare Wee Helps in Kirkcaldy. (If you don't know I won't even try to explain what they do).

It's also ten years since my faithful buddy and fellow Vindsceen Viper Danny Kyle died. Jeez doesn't time fly and doesn't the BBC take a long time to pay you.


Starting on 1st with "The Nicht Afore The Morn" concert in Lauder with Mike Whellans (local hero). A grand night is had by all. Sorry I couldn't stick around for the afters.

The 9th finds me in the village of Dunure, south of Ayr, for one of their music weekends. Dunure is about the size of my street but they have a great wee pub there and some local enthusiasts scrape money together to put on folky weekends two or three times a year. I'm having such a good time in the second set that I just don't notice the time going by and nobody seems to mind so I end up doing about an hour and a half. Thanks to Paul and his team for every little thing.

Just as a wee aside, there's a great review of the "Shanghaied" CD in issue 80 of "Living Tradition" magazine. It says nice things like; "I took great delight in a voice which is not only a big voice but a voice which can tell a story" and "This is an album with a wonderful selection of songs and certainly it was worth waiting for". Available from this site!

That's all for now, this is what's coming up and if the health holds and the whisky don't run out I'll see you along the road.



Greetings to all my friends over the border and have a celebratory day.


Back from Burns Suppering in Chamonix and then off to West Yorkshire for a couple of late

Haggis nights at Calcutt and The Half Moon, Knaresborough. A new venue run by old pals Derek and Bridget Spiers.

23rd sees me in Forth, Lanarkshire for a night with Gaberlunzie and John Watt. It's quite worrying to think I'm

the youngest guy on the stage but pleasing to know we're all still here and able to do it.


Highlights of the first part of the month are Guisborough FC at the Rugby Club, Milnathort Festival

and Stonehouse FC. All very enjoyable.

Down to Ian McCalman's studio in Lasswade to record some tracks for a new CD of first world war

songs. Had a great time verbal fencing with the tall droll one and some of the tracks are very pleasing.

There are some bonnie songs from that time of madness and inhumanity. Not really strange, beauty will always

rise above the baser instincts of man.

Then the tour. My tours in the south always seem to be more like busman's holidays with days off in between gigs.

No matter, on this occasion it's a part of the country I'm not familiar with so there is time for looking around.

Only when driving past did I realise I had never seen Stonehenge before.

To be honest it's a bit disappointing viewed from the road. In a Spinal Tap kind of a way.

Thankyou to Arthur, Ben and Marylin for the gigs and thanks to Aeryn and Tom for hospitality and help with the car.

I hope to see you all before too long.

If you're wondering whether I can be persuaded to make the journey to the south on a regular basis the answer is yes.

Don't be afraid to ask, I can usually fit something in on the way down so the journey isn't too arduous.


Hospital time. Had the operation. Both hernia's repaired and other bits and pieces sorted.

Now I just have to take it easy until the end of May and make sure I'm properly healed.


14th February 2008. St Valentine's Day

"A romantic day for all romantics and love to all lovers!"


Finish off some dates in Ft William and Banchory and off for a wee break in the sun.


This is where it all goes pear shaped. I'm tootling about with some gigs in Scotland when,

in the middle of the month the pains in the front start to get really bad. Off to the doc who

sends me to Perth Royal Infirmary and they decide that I really need the hernias sorted PDQ.

"End of the week?" OK.

"Phone before you come in." OK.

You don't need to know the details but suffice to say I am the victim of the kind of c**k up

for which the NHS is famous and I'm sitting here in Feb still not having had the surgery.

I struggle through the next six weeks with no work having cancelled on their say so but eventually

poverty sets in and I have to go back to work at the beginning of December.


A month marred by the death of my old friend Ken Thompson. Ken was a fine writer

and a great support to some of us; The MacCalmans, Barbara Dickson, Mike Whellans

and Aly Bain and Bitter Withy way back in the early seventies.

Mike and I had the nerve wracking task of playing at the crematorium but it was a

day of celebration for the life of a great guy.

Finish off the month with Hogmanay at the Bein Inn, Glenfarg.

This is good, my end of year slot is getting even nearer home.


"The sportsman's joy, the murdering cry, the fluttering gory pinion".

The haggis season is upon us once again.

As usual I'm covering the length and breadth of the country stabbing haggi,

toasting lassies and singing the songs of the bard.

Had a great night in Chamonix, France for their first ever Burns Night. I have no

idea where all these scotsmen in kilts came from but keep up the good work lads.

It's all been a bit too much for a man in my state but I'm still here if in a bit of pain.

I'll try to make it through to the end of March and the idea is that I go in for surgery at the start of April and

I'll take April and May off to recover. Hopefully.

If everything goes to plan I should be back at the end of May in fine fettle. Aye, right.

Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes.

PS. If you go to Youtube and look for "The Cutty Wren Folk Club" you'll find some footage of their Burns

Night on 31st Jan featuring yours truly paying tribute to the Bard!



To: Tich Frier, 8 Rannoch Place, KINROSS. Tayside, KY13 8BQ.

April 3rd. Into hospital at last.


6TH SEPT 2007



Steadily working away. Got a bit more done on the CD.

Had a great, if somewhat alcoholic, night at Glenfarg Folk Feast with old pal Dougie McLean.


Well here's an unusual gig. The world's first oatmeal supper at the Grassic Gibbon Centre, Arbuthnott, Angus.

Inspired by Jim "The Chairman" Broon the meal consists of dishes which all contain oatmeal. Very delicious and very filling.

At the start the haggis, the mealie pudding supper and porridge are all addressed at once and washed down with a drop of single malt.

After dinner Gill Bowman and myself entertain. A grand night.

31st CD launch at the Accoustic Music Club, Kirkcaldy. Only thing missing is the CD. Ho Hum.


I join the brotherhood of The Montgolfier Bros and Steve Fossett. My first Balloon trip.

We drift west from Balado and land with a bump in a field near Dollar. Great fun. Recommended.

First gig at Irvine Folk Club for a long time. Loking forward to Marymass Festival now.


The new CD; "SHANGHAIED" emerges, blinking, into the world. Hurrah!

Dick, stuart and I like it and all the writers I have spoken to so far are very happy with what I've done with their songs.

Thankyou guys. This has given me the inspiration to get on with the next part of my life.

Back on tour for the first time for years. Southport, Heighington, Chichester, Keighley, Stonehaven Festival.

That's a lot of miles but I'm just so pleased to be on the road again after this long gap.

I'm back. Book me for your folk club. Go on. I don't care where it is, I'll come.

Details on the contact page.


Busy, busy, busy. The Star FC in Glasgow for the first time in years. I enjoyed that.

Burns For A' That at the Edinburgh Fringe. Wendy Weatherby, Sandy Brechin, Fred Freeman and I give the works of

the bard another airing to very good houses. A labour of love for me.

Tom Russell @ St Brides Centre, Edinburgh. I haven't seen Tom live for two or three years and he's in great form.

Give him a copy of "Shanghaied". I hope he likes my version of "Isaac Lewis".

Then it's Festival, festival, festival. Whitby, Irvine and Fylde go by in a welter of music and bubbles.

Far too much emceeing at all of them for my taste. I've got a CD to sell you know. Did I mention the new CD?


Well, I'm just back from the Iain MacKintosh Memorial Concert @ St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow.

Gavin Livingston, Sara Grey, Gaberlunzie, Stramash and I all contribute songs and reminiscences for

"Mack The Nice" all held together by the redoubtable Arthur Johnston.

We raised £1200 for Maggie's Centres at the same time.

Off on holiday in a couple of weeks then a steady roll down to the end of the year.



25th MARCH 2007


So I had a nice October in Forfar and Lanark and even Kilwinning and Banchory several times.

Then we got some recording done at the end of the month.

Then it was back into Perth Royal Infirmary in November to get the hernias fixed.

Then all of November and most of December off to recuperate. This keyhole sugery makes less mess but recovery time is the same.

Back to work at Glenfarg Village Folk Club on 18th. All well, not much pain.

Moulin Inn, Pitlochry and Anchor Inn, Sth Queensferry at New Year as usual.

Monstrous storms on Hogmanay, Forth Road Bridge closed and had to go round by Kincardine on Forth, trees down etc.

An hour and a half to travel the 20 miles to the Anchor but got there on time despite thinking the fates didn't mean me to get there.

Had a great night in the end. Thanks Denise, Paul and everyone.




Fareweel Moira, Ullapool will not be the same without you.


A week in the sun? Of course.

Up to ones knees in haggis and drams? Mais oui.

Had a fun night at Perth SNP Burns Supper with John Swinney MSP, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Stewart Stevenson MSP, Pete Wishart MP and Annabelle Ewing ex MP. Well somebody had to keep them in order.


Milnathort Crackin' Ceilidh Weekend is a triumph. This is a great weekend where audience and and artistes enjoy sessions, concerts and craic on a mutally enjoyable basis.

Off to Darlington and Guisborough Folk clubs at the end of the month and enjoyed them both.

Looking forward to the release of the new CD: "SHANGHAIED" which will be out in May, fingers crossed.

I should have the order form updated so you can order it from here.

Oh the train? I've just been to the doctor. I definitely have one and possibly two new hernias in different places.

All together now: "Always look on the bright side of life".'s all folks!


(That’s 57 years)

24th September 2006.. The Chronicles of Hernia.

Start a new occasional residency in Banchory. I say occasional because it’s not always on the same night and it doesn’t happen every week. It does happen often though so it’s still a residency.
Perth Royal Infirmary. How often have you read these words here and thought, "here we go again"? “ Are you aware, Mr Frier, that the stomach pains you have been suffering are caused by a double hernia"? Dear friends my return to the theatre is eagerly awaited but not until November because there is, of course, a six month waiting list.

Folk club appearances at Stonehaven and Falkirk, neither of which I have played for a few years. It’s nice to be back.
Back into the studio for more work on the new CD. Still no release date, as I have to finish writing a couple more songs.

“For those of you who have asked how I am here is my latest pic. I’m a teenager now you know” Dark Eyed Molly.

Not many people tell you about the bad nights in their career but Warner’s Holiday Village outside Ayr causes me to doubt my sanity. I knew it was going to be duff and I was not disappointed. What I do does not register on the Hi De Hi scale at all. Never again. OK treble the money and I’ll think about it.
Seeing The Eagles at Hamden Park and attending the wedding of our dear friends Doris and Hugh Hoffman cheers up the rest of the month. I am led astray by some bad men from the north but manage not to be ill despite industrial quantities of whisky being ingested.
Play for the first time at The Queens Head in Rothbury. Great night, I’ll let you know when I’m back.

Things are unduly quiet for July. Nevertheless I have a grand night at Stirling Folk Club. Having time on my hands means a traipse across the water to Midlands Music Festival in County Meath and renewing old acquaintances in Rostrevor. Lovely.

Now you’re whistlin’ Dixie! South of the border to The Yorkshire Lass in Knaresboro’ and Saltburn Festival. Great fun.
And the next week it’s Whitby. Yahoo. As I’m sure you are aware by now Whitby is my favourite spot on the calendar. Fun and frolics with old friends and new. This year I am invited to open for “The Lunchtime Legends”. Each year this bunch of reprobates
Invade The Elsinore pub for a lunchtime session of 60s and 70s hits. Each year they ask a famous folkie to jeopardize a lifetime of work in folk music by opening the show.
This year I am honoured to be invited. A mere bagatelle to the man who was once P J Proby’s rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist. We have a lorra lorra laughs and play loads of songs I thought I’d forgotten.

A Lunchtime Legend

This is also the last year in charge of Whitby for Malcolm Storey who has been at the helm for more than 20 years. Malcolm gave me my first gig at Folk Union One in Hull when I was a young whippersnapper and has been a staunch supporter for more years than either of us care to remember.
Enjoy your retirement Malc and thanks for everything.
Iain MacKintosh RIP. We saw the sun and the dark side of the moon. I’ll miss you lots.

What a busy month. Over the border to Calcutt, Keighley, Guisborough and Rothbury again. Up north to Banchory and Fort William several times.
57 years old and not looking too bad after all.


At last finish writing the last song for the CD and all the vocals are recorded. One or two touch ups to be done, we'll mix it in February when Dick gets back and get released in March or April. Fingers crossed.


Perth Royal Infirmary. There it is again. In on 4th, hernia op on 5th, all done, no hitches. Rest of month for recovery. Planning now underway for promotional tours in 2007. Book now while I'm still in one piece.

I’m putting short English tours together for next year. One ten-day affair in July, which has Southport and Chichester at the moment and others from May on. If you’re interested give me a call. I’ll let you know the dates as we go along.
I’m still doing things, which are not open to the public BU
And the new CD “Shanghaied” will definitely be released. Honest.




Yes indeed and of course off to Lanzarote to brown the kneeses for the Haggis Season. Nine Burns Suppers and three One Man's Burns shows in Heighington Folk Club, The Yorkshire Lass, Knaresborough and The Union, Calcutt. Your folk club could have this great show in 2007.   You supply the haggis and the people and I do the rest. Interested? Contact me and I'll tell you about it. On the domestic front a wee light comes into our house and eats the furniture


            "A wee ray of sunshine called Dark Eyed Molly"


Sad news. My good pal Jim Liddle from South Queensferry passes away.

He asks that I sing "Caledonia" at his funeral. What a difficult day. I hope I didn't let him down.

He will be missed by all his friends in the folk scene and several charities will lose the benefit of his tireless fundraising.

After feeling pains in my abdomen after lifting speakers I pop off to the doc to discover I have another hernia. Déjà vu yet again.

And finally on a happier note we celebrate the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Mr & Mrs Ian Green of Greentrax Records. A wonderful night of nostalgia and memories with some very old friends.

Ian MacCalman, John Barrow, Maxine Thompson and a man in a waistcoat at The Greens do.


Milnathort Folk Festival fights it's way through the snow to provide the highlight of the month. Apart from that nuthin happened.





Guess what? Holiday followed by 11 Burns Suppers. January's are becoming v. predictable but so what. The Complete Songs team had a lovely night at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre lined up but it was cancelled due to low ticket sales. Shame.


Starts with my "One Man's Burns" show in Marske, Knaresborough and Calcutt. I'm starting to get good at this and I think I'll try to expand the tour in future years. Hernia operation on 14 th cancelled. More time with no work. I wonder if I can sue the NHS for loss of earnings?


Eventually get the hernia fixed 7 th but I get an infection in the wound and have to stay in hospital all week. Out just in time to MC Milnathort Festival Final Concert. I know I shouldn't have but you can't let people down. Rest of the month off for R & R.


Start my regular Shearings Hotels work in Tarbet, Loch Lomond and Braemar. Feeling OK.


Gig at The Village FC in Leith, too quiet but enjoyable none the less.

Thanks to the people who did come.

The Complete Songs team play Burns An A' That Festival in Ayr. This time we do "The Merry Muses of Caledonia" songs. It's a sensation!

Most people don't know the bawdy side of Burns but this audience loves it and nobody leaves in disgust.

Davy Vernon and I play the Haly Fair in Mauchline on Saturday and have a great time in the rain.


Regular work nice and steady.


A month marred by the deaths of Citty Finlayson and Paddie Bell.

These two ladies did so much to further the cause of folk music in Scotland. They will be sorely missed.


  Whitby. Grace Notes & Tich sing Traditional songs by Buddy Holly


Fylde Festival starts the month and a wonderful time is had with Matt and Jane and friends old and new. Down to Galloway to record some guitar and vocals for Janet Weatherston's new CD.

Holiday on the Costa del Sol, which was nice.


Suddenly things get busy. Travelling all over Scotland playing and manage to get some recording done for a new CD which should be out in 2006 with a bit of luck. Sadly we lose Mindy our wee Cocker Spaniel pal for the last thirteen years. Heartbroken. The house seems so empty.   Finish up at Melrose in the lovely border country doing a concert for the Scots Language Society. A braw nicht.

Mindy the dog. R.I.P


A month of contrasts. Starting with Kirkcaldy FC. I'm beginning to enjoy playing folk clubs again. Middle of the month is an environmental health conference in Perth. This is real head to head stuff. The audience is up close and great fun. 19 th brings a stand up speaking gig at the Scottish Wits Dinner in Irvine. It's nice to be versatile. Much snow in the north and two cancelled gigs because of it.


After dinner entertaining @ The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and The Greentrax Xmas Party in Dunbar. Both highly enjoyable.

Record BBC "Travelling Folk Seasonal Special" with Archie Fisher.

This is a show entitled "Funny Folk" featuring wits that have laughed at and with folky music over the years. We have loads of fun picking the stuff for this and I reckon it could run to a series given the chance. There's hours of wonderful material in an incredible range of styles.

Finish the year in my favourite Hogmanay space; The Anchor Inn, South Queensferry. The place has been sold so it's unlikely I'll play it again. Thanks Frank.




MAY 2004
Straight down to Upton Upon Severn for the folk festival on 1st & 2nd.
A wonderful time is had by all, nice to see Pete MacNab who has some new songs. Hopefully one will turn up on the new album.
Night off on 15th so nip over to see Dick Gaughan and Allan Taylor's "Both Sides the Tweed" show in Glenrothes. The guys are in great form and looking mucho healthy for their age.

"Over 100 Years of Folk Music Experience".

Finish the month with a night in The Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre in Arbuthnott (NE Scotland). Fred Freeman does his Burns' Songs lecture and I entertain afterwards. Fine audience and great hospitality as always.

What a busy month. Highlights are "The Jolly Beggars" at the Burns An' A' That festival in Ayr with six singers and a wonderful band of artists from the Complete Robert Burns CDs in the Spiegeltent. Man that place is hot.
Leith Festival @ The Village Folk Club in Edinburgh(OK Leith really).
A packed night and great fun. Would you believe they were giving away free whisky and I was driving. This happens too often for my liking.
Went to see two of my greatest heroes (separately) John Prine and Chuck Berry. Please let me enjoy my work as much as them if I live that long.

Two Weddings and No Funerals. Well that hasn't happened for a long time. James Taylor @ Edinburgh Castle - another man who appears to enjoy his work more as he gets older.

West Highland Yacht Week and Lauder Common Riding all within five days. Can my body stand it? Fortunately yes.
Followed by South Queensferry Fair. I haven't done a night like this for ages, they shout out the songs, I sing them. No PA just head to head with the audience. What fun.

"Rab C. Frier in full flight"

Followed by WHITBY! Ah Whitby land of fish, music and 70% proof-fulness. I enjoy it more each year.
End of Fringe shows crammed into last couple of days of the month. I don't normally do reviews but go and see Dara O' Briain. If he doesn't make you piss yourself you're dead or there's something seriously wrong with your prostate.
Bad news on the health front. I can't get my hernia fixed ‚til February so any thoughts of tours are put back yet again.



First of all here's a little snippet from KINROSS-SHIRE NEWSLETTER about a gig I did for our local Aeromodelling Club last month:

"Two of the most enjoyable weekends for a long time with great flying, great weather, great companionship and some of the best entertainment from Tich Frier that has ever been seen. The club would like to thank Tich for his continued support over the years; he continually makes a good event into a great one." Not The Times but it's still nice to be appreciated.

The rest of the month is taken up with folk clubs and a wee break in the sun.


A quiet start followed by 12 gigs in the last two weeks and a weekend in Amsterdam to celebrate hersels birthday. Fairly putting in the miles from Portpatrick to Banff and points in between.


We're off to Southport to celebrate 30 years of Strawhead.

Such a wonderful time is had that Mr Les Barker, a moderately acclaimed poet writes a song about it. I'll sing it to you sometime.

Stirling Folk Club on the 15 th for a tribute night to my old pal Iain MacKintosh, "The Quiet Man of Scottish Folk". If only they knew.

This is an unusual tribute due to the fact that Iain is actually there to accept the accolades and is not deid as is usual at these events.

Archie Fisher, Brian McNeill, Adam MacNaughton and a large cast are there to remind him of fine times they've had. Other darker elements remind him of some of the toilets we've played in the cause of folk music.


Visit to oncologist on the 1 st . The cancer remains at bay. Hoorah.

Usual unhurried December ignoring Xmas as much as possible.

I've never got on with Yuletide, all that panic for one day when you have a whole year to spread goodwill. The month ends in Pitlochry, South Queensferry and Banchory.

Another year over and I'm still alive if not exactly well. Slainte!



First of all my apologies for leaving it so long to update.
My own lack of inspiration and the arrival of a daughter to Garry -my sitebuilder- and his wife Michelle, Congratulations, have let things slip.
Hopefully Mr & Mrs Widley have got into a routine where they can sleep for more than two hours at a time and the dark is going from under their collective eyes.

I'm easing myself back into things gently. Didn't have much time to plan ahead because of the way things were so a couple of gigs a week keep the wolf from the door. I'm keeping the hatches battened down in case he sneaks in through the window.

A good start to the month. I see the oncologist and he pronounces me fit and well and the latest scan is all clear. Hoorah!
Return to folk clubs in Northwich, Glenfarg and the Wee Club in Edinburgh.
I've got some new songs and it's nice to see old friends again.
Highlight of the month is the Vindscreen Vipers Anniversary Dinner in the Ship Inn in Irvine, Ayrshire where all the madness started thirty years ago.
In attendance are Brothers Nolan, McCormick, Miller, Whellans, Mulholland the faithful sound man and myself. Apologies from Br. Hill (previous commitment) and Br. Kyle (deid, although his manifestation attended in his stead).
A night of tall tales, true stories and over indulgence. What the hell?
Before any nostalgia freaks get any daft ideas, the Vipers will not play in public again. Nae Dan, Nae Ban'.

Open the year in the usual manner, holiday in the sun to recover from the celebrations then it's flat out to the end of the month with twelve Burns Suppers from Banchory to London and Yorkshire in between. For the first time in a while I've been reciting "Holy Willie's Prayer" and it goes down a treat.

"We have taken Aqaba". Lawrence of

Just when you think it's all going too well, it is. A visit to the consultant in Perth shows up an incisional hernia. Not life threatening, not painful, just a pest.
We'll get it sorted ASAP but it's more time off work and I can't plan any tours in advance. Jeez if I was a horse………

Milnathort Folk Festival brings the first appearance in Scotland of The Tich Frier Band. I'm nervewracked as I have to MC the concert as well as finishing the night with the guys - see Sept 2002, old news pages - but the set goes great and we're well content.
Another highlight. I am invited to perform at The Irvine Burns Club Heckling Shed Dinner with the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Very prestigious.

The Tich Frier Band @ Milnathort Festival.

Working away nice and steady.
Off to Lauder in the Scottish Borders on the 10th to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of fellow Viper and faithful mucker Mike Whellans. It's a wonderful night of music and mirth enhanced by old pals Archie Fisher, Ian MacCalman and Aly Bain among others. Nice to see them somewhere other than a crematorium for a change.

Try to stay healthy my friends.

Latest News @ 1st October 2003
(A date so bland it appears to be nobody's day)

Spent most of the month in recuperation, ie : inert.
I did manage to get up to Glenfarg Folk Club to see one of my all time heroes, Enoch Kent.
He's probably seventy years old and just as commited and cantankerous as he was when I first heard him almost forty years ago.
The man's an inspiration and I promise never to lose my marching voice or my sense of humour in the unlikely event of me getting to his age.

Still following my consultants orders to rest but I sneak off to Lauder for the annual Common Riding festivities. Plumbing duly tested and it passes with flying colours.
Whitby Folk Week is a joy. It's so good to be back on a stage again and meet old friends like Strawhead, The Wilsons and Toms McConville and Napper.
Whitby is just such a cracking place to be for a week and the sun shone too.
I feel reinvigourated and ready for…..Fylde Folk Festival.
The sun mostly shines on Fleetwood and Matt Armour and I guide each other through the forest of self-destruct without any harm.
Thanks again to Malcolm Storey and Alan Bell for the gig.

Whitby and Tich bask in the sunshine

Back to very gentle regular work, a couple of gigs a week and all is going well. The post operation pains are almost gone and I feel as good as I have done for a year. I record my track for Milnathort Folk Festival Limited Edition CD 2004. Stephen Fosters' "Hard Times". Pete Clark does a wonderful string quartet arrangement and we clone four Tiches into glorious harmony. The Rolling Stones in Glasgow prove why they are the "greatest rock'n roll band in the world" bar none and I get to be 54 years old when it looked as if I might not.
There are so many people I have to thank for getting me here. Surgeons, doctors, oncologists and nursing staff at PRI and Ninewells Hospital.
Family and friends for keeping my faith in the goodness of most of the human race and slowing me down when I try to run too fast too early.

The Science.
How to avoid dying of cancer.
If you feel pains in any parts of your body and they show no signs of easing, do not be big macho caledonian man/woman. Go to the doctor and get checked out the earlier the better.
Ladies remember to keep checking your breasts for strange lumps. If you feel self concious about it come and see me and I'll be glad to help.
Gentlemen keep checking the testes for strange lumps.
If you feel self concious about it you're on your own.

To friends old and new, SLAINTE!




31st December, Hogmanay: Back on a stage for the first time since October.
Thank you South Queensferry, it felt great but a little nerve wracking.

A trusty piper, the great chieftain o' the puddin race and the haggis stabber in
chief at Banchory in January 2003

January. After a week in the sun to regain a bit of lost colour I managed to
survive several Burns Suppers. Not so physically demanding as normal work but
mentally you have to be right in the zone. Met old friends and new before going
back to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for more chemotherapy.
I go for my last course of chemo on Mon 17th Feb. After that scans and tests and
if all is clear, final surgery in March.

March. No word.

April. No word.

May. Still no word.

June. At last. Going into Perth R. I. 15th of this month for final surgery to
put the insides back in the inside. In hospital for around ten days then
recuperation for two months and start work at Whitby Folk Week in mid August.
Thanks for all your good wishes.
More news as it happens.

"Thou think'st tis much that this contentious storm invades us to the skin......Pour on; I will endure".

Shakespeare: King Lear.




NEWS @ 10th June 2003. Portugese National Day


January: A mad round of a dozen Burns Suppers from Banchory to London and lots
in between crammed into fifteen days. It's a good job I love Burns, haggis and
Beginning of the year marred by the death of my friend George Duffus from
March: After much kick and rush we managed to get "You Are Here" the compilation
CD out in time for Milnathort Folk Festival. None of the tracks had previously
appeared on CD and I just felt it would be good to put the best of the previous
recorded stuff in one place. Lots of other people like it too, which is lovely.
May: Highlight of the month is the Ross 2000 Ceilidh in Kinross.
The Lomond Ceilidh Band in great form and I can actually walk home at the end of
the gig. (I mean it's only down the road, not I can walk… oh never mind.) All in
a good cause.
June & July: Start recording "The Complete Songs of Robert Burns" for Fred
Freeman and Linn Records. This is Freds' great project to record all the songs
the bard wrote in their original tunes. It features the finest singers and
musicians in Scotland and me.
End the month with two gigs at West Highland Yacht Week in Oban. Meet up with
old Viper chums and I'm first to retire to bed. Must be getting old or sick.
August: More hospitals and doctors than gigs. Something definitely not right.
September: What a start to the month. The Tich Frier Band- Me, Davy Vernon,
Stuart Duncan and Neil Paterson - slay 2000 people at the 7th Swiss Pipe Band
Meeting in Basel. We manage to get off stage, go to the bar, get a pint, go to
the back of the tent and join in our own ovation. That really makes you feel

Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band wow them in Basle.

End of the month. Return from holiday to meeting with consultant at Perth Royal
Infirmary. I've got cancer of the bowel but it's OK, it's very isolated and he
will operate on 4th Nov and I'll be fine.
October 18th: Chronological miscalculation. Bowel shuts down completely. I'm in
agony. Off to Perth R.I., with sirens blaring, operate next day but bowel has
burst and I get peritonitis as well.
The rest of the gory details you don't need to know but I start a course of
preventative chemotherapy on 2nd December which will run until mid Feb. After
that I will have another operation to put what bits are left into the right
place again and after a reasonable time I'll be back on the road full time by
June. Don't worry about me. I have no reason to believe I won't get better. I'll
see you at Whitby and Fylde in August if not before and thanks to Malcolm and
Alan for having the faith to book me. I feel fine.