Joe Aitken at the World’s Room


11 October, 2019

The Waverley St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Joe Aitken is one of the great upholders of Scotland’s bothy ballad tradition and a singer of Scots song who has taken his native tradition to appreciative audiences all over Scotland, in England, Ireland and Germany. The winner of many singing competitions for his authentic narrative style, Joe is literally a champion of champions, having won for a record six times the Bothy Ballad Champions competition held annually at Elgin Town Hall.

Neither wonder! Joe was born into the bothy ballad tradition in 1944 to parents who were both from Aberdeenshire, although working on a farm in Perthshire at that time. Joe’s earliest memories are of that farm and hearing his father singing, and he remembers being hoisted onto a kist at a young age to sing ‘Loch Lomond’ to the men in the farm bothy.

It wasn’t until the early 1980s, however, that Joe began to take singing more seriously. In 1982, the Kinross Folk Festival moved to Kirriemuir, where by this time Joe was working on the family farm, and Joe was encouraged to enter the singing competition. He didn’t win that one but within a few years he had won the first of many cups, at Auchtermuchty, and was mixing with his heroes, including Jock Duncan and Tam Reid.

Jock and Tam were happy to teach Joe any song he showed an interest in and other singers, including Belle Stewart, made tapes of songs for him, making Joe a genuine keeper of the oral tradition. For Joe, who worked on the land for most of his working life, the bothy ballads are a social and political history of farms and farming and the big ballads, or muckle sangs, a treasure trove of stories that he gets great pleasure from sharing. He also enjoys the humour in some of the less reverent traditional songs.

As well as singing in competitions, Joe has sung at festivals including Sidmouth and Whitby and he was honoured to appear in the opening concert at Celtic Connections in 2016, marking the 50th anniversary of the TMSA. He is equally happy to sing to much smaller audiences and enjoys creating a rapport with listeners in intimate venues (like the Waverley!)

He is widely admired among his contemporaries and hugely respected by the many younger singers he has influenced and he was a very popular and deserving winner of the Scots Singer of the Year title at the MG Scots Trad Music Awards in 2010. He is also a member of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

_(Photo of Joe by Louis de Carlo)__________________________________


Susie Kelly at the World’s Room


Susie Kelly

13 September, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Susie is a weel kent face on the folk scene having been a member of the 4-part harmony group Stravaig and for her work in Community Music, running singing groups, singing workshops and her involvement with Festivals.

From Edinburgh originally and now living in Stirling, her songs are a mix of traditional and contemporary, mostly unaccompanied and usually with a chorus. Her cuddles are also weel kent!



Mark Dunlop at the World’s Room


Mark Dunlop (3)

14 June, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Mark Dunlop comes from a musical family and has been singing in company for years. He moved to Scotland from Northern Ireland to study in the early 90s. As a founder-member of Malinky Mark has been promoting traditional song since the band’s beginnings 20 years ago. His solo album ‘Islands on the Moon’ is a fine showcase of Ulster song of which he is an occasional tutor. As well as singing Mark plays bodhrán and tin whistle.

Amy Leach at the World’s Room

Amy Leach

19 April, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Amy Leach is a traditional singer from Edinburgh, now based in Newcastle. She studied with Sandra Kerr and Chris Hendry on the Newcastle University Folk and Traditional Music Degree and then completed an MLitt on Traditional Song (which featured some research with some lovely singers from The World’s Room!). Although she now spends most of her time producing the Folkworks programme at Sage Gateshead she looks forward to any opportunity she can get to sing a big ballad or two.

Vincent Doherty at the World’s Room

Vincent Doherty

15 March, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Vincent Doherty was born and raised in Derry, but has lived in Dublin for the past 40 years. Hugely influenced by Derry’s Kevin Mitchell and Tyrone singer Geordie Hanna, other influences included “northern style” singers Paddy Tunney, Len Graham, Cathal McConnell and Sean Cochran. In 2015 he recorded his first CD “The High Walls of Derry” accompanied by some of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians. Vincent also plays the flute, and for many years taught Set Dancing at the Cobblestone, home of traditional music in Dublin. A retired Social Worker he lives in Dublin with his wife Linda and family.

Allan Taylor at the World’s Room

Allan Taylor Keith 2016 (3)

15th February, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh


Raised on hearing traditional music and song in Tornaveen in rural Aberdeenshire,  Allan Taylor started singing traditional songs after entering the Buchan Hertiage Society competitions in 2006 and quickly got involved with the Traditional Music and Song Association in Aberdeen. Allan has a developed a wide repertoire of North East song from traditional ballads and Bothy Ballads to comic songs, he has taken second prize at the annual Champion of Champions’ Bothy Ballad Competition held in Elgin each year. He has been a guest as both singer and MC at many of the festivals and was the MC as well as a singer in the first TMSA Wee Red Book Concert at Celtic Connections.


Ellen and Kevin Mitchell at the World’s Room

kevin and ellen 2

18 January, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh


Two lovely singers for January. Kevin Mitchell from Derry City has lived in Glasgow since 1967.  With his distinctive style he has taken his traditional repertoire, which is mainly based on the songs of his native Ulster, to many clubs and festivals, at home and abroad. Ellen Mitchell has also lived in Glasgow for many years, having returned there from the Argyll coast at age 6. Her repertoire is mainly traditional, with the occasional newer song. She has also been involved in a variety of performing and tutoring events. Kevin has recorded on Topic and Greentrax, Ellen on Living Tradition, and both featured on a double CD for Musical Traditions.