festival performers excited ahead of return for 25th anniversary celebration


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THE Fochabers Fiddlers aim to make their founder and mentor, James Alexander, very proud when they take the stage at Speyfest later this month.

Mr. Alexander formed the group in 1980 for students aged 12 to 18 at Milne’s High School.

His death earlier this year was keenly felt by the Scottish traditional music scene and by fiddlers.

James Alexander at the end of the Fochabers Fiddlers Sunday session in 2019. Photo: Daniel Forsyth

James Macgregor of Fochabers Fiddlers said: “We are all looking forward to playing in the hometown of the Fochabers Fiddlers on Speyfest Sunday.

“Despite missing a very special man, we hope to do him proud and have you on the floor for some well kaint fiddle tunes. Can’t wait to see you all there.”

In the summer of 1980, James and David Ferguson, then a Bellie Church minister, organized a trip to the Shetland Islands for the group which has gone from strength to strength ever since.

The group has a number of experienced fiddlers leading the group and they have toured various parts of America and Germany.

Duncan Chisholm
Duncan Chisholm

Duncan Chisholm, one of Scotland’s most accomplished fiddlers, said: “Speyfest is a truly unique and special festival. At the heart of Speyfest is a wonderful community of people who really love music.

“It’s a festival for the whole family, a festival I’ve had many happy times at over the years and I’m delighted to be here this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary.”

Born and raised near Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland, Duncan has spent most of his life developing his unique musical voice.

He won the 2018 Scots Trad Music Awards ‘Album of the Year’ for his latest studio album Sandwood.

He has performed across the UK, Europe and the US, both solo and playing with other musicians and bands.

Duncan will be joined at Speyfest with a fantastic array of musicians, including

Jarlath Henderson on bagpipes and whistles, Innes Watson on acoustic guitar and viola,

Hamish Napier on piano and flute and James Mackintosh on percussion with Alan MacKinnon on sound.

Bruce MacGregor learned music from the legendary Donald Riddell.

More recently, Bruce’s role as a composer was highlighted with the launch of “Highlanders Revenge and other tales” in January 2020. The book is a collection of 50 compositions with the story and inspiration for each piece alongside photographs over 20 years old. on tour with Blazin Fiddles.

Violinist Bruce MacGregor.
Violinist Bruce MacGregor.

Bruce said: “It’s amazing to be able to start playing music festivals again, but playing Speyfest this year is definitely a really special occasion.

“I’m sure all musicians, organizers and music fans will want to pay this fitting tribute to the wonderful James Alexander, a man who put his heart and soul into the traditional music of this region and ensured that it was flourishing today.

“So while the weekend will be tinged with sadness, we want to make sure we celebrate the man and his music – it’s what he would have wanted.”

Bruce hosted Traveling Folk on BBC Radio Scotland for many years. He is an award-winning producer with his programs on Scottish music including ‘The Strathspey King – the life of James Scott Skinner’ and ‘The Captain’s Collection’, both of which won Celtic Media Awards.

In 2001 he founded Blazin in Beauly, a week-long musical extravaganza making the Highland village the ‘fiddle town of Scotland’ for a week each October. The School of Music now attracts Scottish fiddle enthusiasts from all over the world.

Bruce has also performed for Sir Billy Connolly, Sir Sean Connery, Prince Edward and accompanying Ewan McGregor and Sharlene Spitteri, Eddi Reader, Justin Currie and in duo with world renowned violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Another performer, singer-songwriter Colin Campbell, said: “I feel very honored and thrilled to be part of this year’s Speyfest lineup. It’s shaping up to be a very special and memorable weekend. .”

Martin Gillespie can't wait to play with Skerryvore.
Martin Gillespie can’t wait to play with Skerryvore.

Skerryvore piper Martin Gillespie is another very excited about Speyfest.

He said: “Sunday night at Speyfest is going to be a brilliant night – we can’t wait to be back! It’s fantastic to see the festival back and we’ll make sure the weekend ends with a bang.

“The Moray crowd are always looking forward to it and the 25th anniversary celebration will be a great way to end a busy festival season. See you soon Fochabers.”

Since 2005, Skerryvore have presented their performances to audiences around the world, from their debut in venues and bars across Scotland’s west coast, to festival crowds in the US, Canada, Australia and across the UK and Europe.

Skerryvore is looking forward to Speyfest.
Skerryvore is looking forward to Speyfest.

They won Scottish Traditional Music’s ‘Live Act of the Year’ twice in 2011 and 2016.

With a mix of fiddle, accordions, bagpipes and whistles, alongside guitar and vocals, backed by bass, drums and keyboards, Skerryvore represents the best of contemporary Scottish traditional music.

The band celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2015 by launching their own 6,000 capacity “Decade” festival, followed by successful Oban Live events in each of the following four years.

The band explored live streaming and virtual performances in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

The band’s single, ‘Everyday Heroes’, recorded at home and aided by a variety of musicians across the country, reached number one on the official Scottish charts and has so far raised several thousand pounds for organisations. charities of NHS staff.


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