A brief update into what has been going on! The summer has been tremendously busy but absolutely brilliant. I have attended some great events and have likewise been part of some insightful collaborative work!  I’m getting ready to head back to University in September so I’d thought I’d jot some of the summers highlights down. Mainly so I won’t forget them myself!

At the tail end of May, the band recorded our first EP, named East. We included 6 tracks, all with a distinct link to the East of Scotland and had Euan Burton skilfully master and produce it at GloWorm Recording Studio in Glasgow. We had a number of musicians involved, which really helped to make a bigger sound. Charlie Grey on fiddle and tenor guitar, Chris Ferrie on guitar and bodhran, Callum Cronin on double bass and Ross Miller on border pipes. Arranging and rehearsing the material was a very enjoyable process, and the EP has had a lovely reception.

I was delighted to have successfully applied for a Young Scot Nurturing Talent Fund grant. Creative Scotland’s ‘Nurturing Talent – Time to Shine Fund aims at supporting young people aged 14-20 by providing financial assistance with a number of application deadlines throughout the year. I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who successfully run the fund and say that the contribution was invaluable to the production of the EP.

 

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The band then headed to Folkest International Folk Festival in Italy for 5 days. We performed for 4 concerts at various beautiful wee towns in the East of Italy. Based in Spilimbergo, we travelled to areas such as Travesio, Santo Stefano de Buja, Prepotto and Taipana near the Slovenian  border.

 

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This summer, I have performed solo as well as with the band at some lovely folk clubs. Folk clubs really are my favourite – I really love it when the audience joins in with songs and folk clubs really provide an eager, enthusiastic room full of singers and musicians and folk music enthusiasts. Folk Clubs in the summer that really stood out for me was Stockton Folk Club and South Shields Folk Club. It was my first solo jaunt down to the North East of England and it was lovely to see just how transferable British Folksongs and Ballads are.  I was also joined by Ross Miller and Luc McNally for a performance at Stirling Folk Club, which was a great night!

 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Cullerlie Traditional Singing Weekend hosted in Tam and Anne Reid’s farm and teahouse. The festival, situated at Cullerlie Farm Park brings together a host of wonderful singers from Scotland, Ireland and England and is primarily an unaccompanied song festival with the exception of some informal music sessions. In true traditional style, festival goers find themselves in singing sessions and workshops in 3 very quaint locations: The Bothy Wash House, the Tea Room and a Marquee. Guests this year included Maurice Leyden and Jane Cassidy (Ireland), Johnny Handle and Chris Hendry (Northumbria) Robyn Stapleton, Shona Donaldson, John Dickson, Ewan McVicar and Jim Radford.

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I was asked to feature in the new Channel 4 series of Great Canal Journeys! The team, featuring Prunella Scales and Timothy West were travelling on the Cronin Canal (from Ardrishaig to Crinin) and I was invited aboard a restored puffer boat Vic 32 to sing the song, the Cronin Canal!

Myself and the band played at a few lovely festivals over the Summer months including Doune the Rabbit Hole, Speyfest, Aberdeen International Youth Festival and one of my favourites, Portsoy Folk Festival (the 7th Haal) where we performed in the Saturday night concert with The Jeremiahs and Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr.

 

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In mid-august, I found out I was selected for the semi-finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017 award! Very excited to attend a residential weekend in October alongside some fantastic musicians!

 

 

FolkWords Reviews

‘East’ from Iona Fyfe Band – leaves you wanting more

(July 01, 2016)


Drawing deeply from the well of folksong that comes from the east of Scotland, ‘East’ the debut EP by Iona Fyfe Band rises like the East EP covermorning lark. Treating the listener to six slices of East and North East tradition with an inspired contemporary edge, ‘East’ hooks immediately, remains with you a long time and leaves you wanting more.

From the instantly recognised bothy ballad, ‘Sleepytoon’, through the spritely Fyfe original ‘Pride of Aberdeen’ to the many versioned and well-known ballad ‘Queen Amang the Heather’, Iona’s crystal clear and infinitely expressive voice soars through the songs. From unaccompanied voice to the band in full-flow, ‘East’ stands as a testament to the strength, endurance and adaptability of the tradition. It also offers ample evidence that traditions of music, dialect and heritage remain definitely in good hands, listen to Iona sing the melancholy ‘Cairn o’ Mount’ or absorb the band delivering another many-versioned song ‘Earl Richard’.

Creating the magic on ‘East’ are Iona Fyfe (vocals, piano, shruti box) Charlie Grey (fiddle, tenor guitar) Chris Ferrie (guitar, bodhran) Callum Cronin (double bass) and Ross Miller (border pipes)

Folk Radio UK East Review

IONA FYFE BAND: EAST (EP)

Queen Amang the Heather from East was also included in FRUK’s  Lost in Transmission Mixtape

Various female artists from multiple musical genres were invited to record a piece of music inspired by the women of Aberdeen/shire (past or present). ‘Even in Winter’ is the result. Artwork illustrations by Gabi Reith.

 

Iona Fyfe – Pride of Aberdeen

 

Pride of Aberdeen or “Nellie of Aberdeen” or “Young Ellen of Aberdeen” is found in John Ords Bothy Songs and Ballads of Aberdeen, Banff and Moray, Angus and the Mearns. Various versions of the song is also found in Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection Volume 6. Originally collected by James Duncan in January 1906 from performers such as John McAllan ( Sep 1907), William Ross (Sep 1909), John Garioch (Apr 1859), Charles Walker ( Apr 1906) Maggie Watt (Apr 25th 1905) and Isaac Troup (Sep 11th 1907) The oldest known version of the song is from 21st April 1859 from John Garioch however the song was commonly sung by males in the first decade of the 1900’s. Roud Index: 2179

Although the origins of the song is unknown, the song seems to be a lament about a girl who is orphaned at 11 and falls sick at 17 before she could marry the narrative singer/writer of the song. I chose to rewrite the melody of the song and have wrote an extra verse (V1 A and B) as I felt the song needed a little bit of introduction and that the first line “All earthly pleasures now are fled” needed some verse before it.

All proceeds from the compilation will go to Aberdeenshire North Foodbank and it is available to buy here. A downloadable stream of the compilation is available here:

https://fitlikerecords.bandcamp.com/album/even-in-winter

 

 

 

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