Seminar 4 April 2014


A research seminar:

“The Fiddlers’ Return: mapping the instrumental folk music revival in Scotland”

Dr Stuart Eydmann, Traditional Artist in Residence 2013/14, Celtic and Scottish Studies
Friday 4 April 2014, 1.10pm – 2pm
Conference Room, Celtic and Scottish Studies, 27 George Square, Edinburgh


Dave Swarbrick


Dave Swarbrick (1941- ) was another influence on instrumental music in the folk revival. He did much to introduce the fiddle into British folk through his concerts, recordings and broadcasts with Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger, A.L. Lloyd and with the Ian Campbell Folk Group, which he joined in 1960. He later became a leading figure in the genre of ‘folk rock’ through his work with the band Fairport Convention. Swarbrick’s official biography can be read here.

Father Ted


It is clear from archival recordings in the Schools of Scottish Studies Archive, references in folk music journals and my own interviews that the Dublin fiddler Ted Furey had quite an impact on the developing folk scene in Scotland in the 1960s. He visited an early Blairgowrie Festival (1967?) where this photograph, held in the university collection, was taken and spend some time in and around Edinburgh where he played at the Crown Folk Club. His two musical sons Eddie and Finbar settled in the city for a while also. I remember meeting Ted in Cambridge and in Dublin during the 1970s when he asked after old friends in Scotland.

Mary Brooksbank, fiddler

Mary Brooksbank small

Well, this is a lovely find. I have only just learned that the Dundee singer, song writer and political activist Mary Brooksbank (1897-1978) was a fiddle player too. This snap accompanied an article on Mary in Chapbook magazine (Vol. 3, No. 4, 3-4) by Maurice Fleming. He writes:

The family was musical. Mary played the fiddle, one of her brothers played the mandolin, another the accordion. And mother was aye singing. But then so was everybody else!

Sheena Wellington suggested to me that Mary came to the fiddle later in life, fulfilling a long held ambition to own and play the instrument.

Mr and Mr Smith

Smith Brothers small
I have encountered references to The Smith Brothers, musicians from Shetland who played at the heretics concerts in Edinburgh in the 1970s but could find nothing on them. At last, Doli MacLennan turned up some images of them. So here we have Rob and Maurice Smith. Rob played both fiddle and accordion.

Jimmy McGuire, Glasgow

2014-03-15 Jimmy McGuire small

Through to Glasgow for a pre-St Patrick’s night gathering where I caught up with fiddling college mates John Gahagan and Jimmy McGuire. Jimmy is now a skilled violin maker and plays an instrument of his own make.

Traditional Music Forum Guest Blog

The Clutha, 1963 The Clutha, 1963

The following was published by the Traditional Music Forum earlier this week:


Guest blog by Stuart Eydmann

I’m sure that no reader of this blog would disagree with my suggestion that instrumental traditional music in Scotland is in a very healthy state indeed. Participation levels are high throughout the country and among all age groups. This is supported by a large infrastructure of instrument makers and technicians, retailers, publishers, teachers, learning and performance opportunities. Traditional music is integrated, to various degrees, into formal education at all levels, there are dedicated programmes on radio and television and among many young people, playing a traditional instrument is seen as cool.It must be difficult, particularly for those under the age of 40, to appreciate that this was not always the case and that the current levels of interest is the result of developments of relatively recent origin.  Continue reading