31st AUGUST 2012: Gren Bartley plus Fiona Laing and Sally-Anne Scott

This August 31st at St Boswells Live! we are proud to host the highly-talented and, dare we say it, extremely nice man Gren Bartley. This begins a new season of performers, all of whom we are very excited about.

Gren Bartley sits on the edge of the ever growing link between English and American folk music. He is a songwriter who explores a wide range of styles from traditional English songs to the darkest American blues ballads. Add to this his impressive songwriting with “a depth and insight of someone twice his age” and you will find an artist who is being very highly praised and has become a much sought after musician.

Gren’s live act is his strongest asset. His guitar playing is “effortlessly astonishing” and his lyrics serve perfectly to accompany the audience through the spectrum of musical landscapes he visits. But it is his soft yet absorbing voice that provides the thread of continuity throughout the set.

“As an acoustic finger-picking guitar and banjo player he has few if any equals in his age group; as an acoustic rooted-in-folk writer he’s developing an alarmingly good canon of work” – R2 Magazine

Supporting Gren are two very different artists from the Borders who have both been talent spotted over the summer as potential stars in their fields. Sally-Anne Scott [note change of bill] is a brilliant harp and clarsach player who has excelled under the tutelage of the legendary Elspeth Smellie and who is on her way to the Royal Conservatoire this year, such is her musical ability.

Fiona Laing, becoming a regular at venues around the Borders, plays guitar to accompany her soaring voice and self-penned songs. At the Lauder Jubilee Celebrations this year, she wowed the audience and we are really looking forward to seeing what she can do at St Boswells Live!

Open Mic slots are available by calling Keith on 01835 822692 (answerphone available).

Doors for this show open at 7.30pm with Open Mic slots from 8pm. Tickets cost £8 (adult), £4 (under-16) and £20 (2 adults and up to 3 under-16s). Tickets are available from St Boswells Post Office and via We Got Tickets (click for link).

A Summer Break

Just a short note to let everyone know there will be no St Boswells Live! in July.

Traditionally this is the time when many people are on holiday and also, assuming there will be some sun this summer, people are less keen to attend indoor events, so we felt it best to have a break, returning in August with a great show.

So have a great summer and try to make the most of the glimpses of sun. And if it keeps raining then you could always put a boat on the village green.

29th JUNE 2012: Summer Acoustic Session

In the interests of giving our sound man a break, but also because it’s sometimes nice to hear what talented musicians can do in the absence of any amplification, this month we are having our first ever acoustic evening. The Summer Acoustic Session, on 29th June 2012 (doors 7.30pm) is a showcase for Borders-based acts that excel in the unplugged environment.

Headlining this intimate, in-the-round show will be Denholm band Real Time who have been playing both the national folk circuit, as well as internationally for many years. Playing as a duo this time, core members Kenny Spiers (guitar and vocals) and Judy Dinning (vocals, guitar and bodhran) play an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary songs and tunes, with Scottish and Northumbrian influences. Judy Dinning has recorded solo, with Dave Smith and with Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, as well as being a founder member of Real Time since 2002. Kenny Spiers is the driving force behind the Denholm Folk Festival and Folk Club, and also a founder member of the John Wright Band. Together they comprise an irresistable duo.

We discovered Dere Street at a St Boswells Live! open mic session in support of Rory McLeod, and instantly fell for their brilliant musical interplay and tight harmonies. Keith Leisk and Gary Smith, from Selkirk, are brilliant exponents of pipes and guitar, playing traditional and original songs and tunes inspired by the land that surrounds their home. We are sure you will be as much taken with them as we were.

As usual there will be an Open Mic session, and being acoustic we can fit a few more people in – if you play an instrument, can sing or even want to recite something then contact Keith on 01835 822692 (before 26th June please) or email keith@stboswellslive.com.

Tickets are priced £8 each, £4 for under-16s and just £20 for a family of 2 adults and 3 under-16s. They are available now from St Boswells Post Office, or on the door.

25th May 2012: Mike Whellans and Sara Grey, with Kieron Means

Another double-header for May’s St Boswells Live! taking place on Friday 25th May, 2012. The theme this month is definitely the roots of music, with a mixture of traditional songs, stories, country and blues all wrapped up in a lovely sonic package.

Once you have heard Sara Grey you will never forget her. She has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. It is a voice well suited to native American ballads and ballads of Ireland and Scotland.

It is not Sara’s lovely voice alone that makes her one of the most popular singers on the folk scene, on many of her songs Sara accompanies herself by frailing a five string banjo and, when playing tunes, it is obvious why she is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the old-time style. As well as singing and playing superbly Sara is a fine story teller specialising in stories from New England where she grew up and learned many of her stories from her father.

Kieron Means is a singer primarily of traditional songs but also of contemporary songs and guitar player of great merit. He has a great rapport with an audience and has an exceptional professionalism for a young performer. His voice is as smooth as silk, rich and mellow and he sings to his audience not in spite of them.

Kieron is the son of the traditional singer Sara Grey and music journalist Andrew Means, one time writer for Melody Maker. He was born in the United States and grew up in Britain gaining a great love of the music of both traditions as well as the contemporary scene. He has become a performer of traditional songs from the US and from the UK and many of the contemporary songs he sings he has written himself.

Mike Whellans is the real thing, a keeper of the one-man blues band flame that burned so passionately in the work of this highly specialized form’s masters, including Doctor Isaiah Ross, Jesse Fuller and Whellans’ great British forerunner, Tony ‘Duster’ Bennett.

Like all true bluesmen and women, when Whellans sings and plays, he means it. He can set a scene of darkness and foreboding as the Boogie Man lurks, play twelve-string guitar in the grand driving blues tradition to propel his Winding Track, and sing of hugging his baby’s deserted pillow so that you really feel his loss.

If you’re already familiar with Whellans, you’ll know to expect a fired up and ready one man blues band explosion. But if this is your introduction, prepare to hear a talent who’s not only his own man as a singer, guitarist and ace blues harpist, he’s his own rhythm section, too.

Tickets are priced at £10 (full), £5 (under-16s) and just £25 for a family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 under-16s). Doors at St Boswells Village Hall open at 7.30pm with the show starting at 8pm.

Advanced single tickets are available from We Got Tickets (click link to purchase in new window) or St Boswells Post Office.


27th APRIL 2012: Plug and Play – Have You Got What It Takes?

We are one year old! Yes, in April 2011 we had our first ever St Boswells Live! and to celebrate 12 months of the club we are getting right back to the heart of the club and making a huge effort to encourage raw talent from around the Borders. April 27th 2012 sees our first dedicated night for young musicians; called “Plug and Play” it will be an edge-of-your-seats, no soundchecks (hence the name) experience, where we guarantee some really special moments both for audience and performers.

The spark for this was from Peebles / Innerleithen band, Cake and Grief Counselling who wanted to know if there was any chance of playing at St Boswells Live! as they had struggled to get gigs in the local area. It became clear that there was plenty of other talent around so we hit on the idea of a night solely for under-18s, giving a rare opportunity to play to an audience who want to listen, and alongside lots of other musicians in the same boat.

So, Noah Brown, Isaac Pringle, Luke Macdonald and Henry Pullan’s band make up the first act on the list, to which we have also added Seven Brunettes and a Ginger, an eight-piece (obviously) who come from all over the central Borders, and Rebecca and Katherine Caswell a duo of singer-guitarists from Oxton.

But we need more performers. If you are a member of a band, group or just on your own and would like to experience something really inspiring (plus getting a free ticket) then please send a short biography, a photo and an example of your music – it can be a YouTube link, a web page, a sound file or something else entirely – to keith@stboswellslive.com, and we will get back to you. Entries close on Friday 20th April.

To round off the evening we have secured rising local stars Where’s George? to play a set, and give everyone else a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the music. You can find out more about them by going to their Facebook page.

Tickets are priced at just £5, available from WeGotTickets.

MARCH 30th, 2012: An Evening of Sublime Traditional Music

With the memories of a wonderful February show still fresh in our minds, we are delighted to be continuing the double-header theme with four hugely talented musicians, all hailing from close to home. If you are a lover of traditional Scottish music, with the raw energy of youth thrown in then you will love what we have to offer on Friday 30th March.

Rachel Newton (harp & voice) and Lillias Kinsman-Blake (flute) first met while studying on the BMus in Folk and Traditional music at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Their music draws on influences from the Highlands of Scotland to the Borders and beyond, incorporating both Gaelic and English songs with traditional and contemporary melodies.

Rachel Newton was born in Edinburgh, where she first began learning the harp with Charlotte Petersen at Tollcross Primary School’s Gaelic Unit. Rachel later went on to study with Isobel Mieras at the City of Edinburgh Music school and then with Corrina Hewat on the Folk and Traditional Music Degree at Newcastle University. Since graduating, Rachel has co-founded the highly successful folk band The Shee as well as playing as harpist in the Emily Portman Trio. 


Lillias Kinsman-Blake lives in Smailholm in the Borders. She is a flute player and founder member of The Shee and has gained a reputation as a versatile musician performing both within the traditional music scene and for theatre, storytelling and classically inspired projects including Blair Douglas’ Gaelic Mass: ‘An Aifreann Ghàidhlig le Blàr Dùghlas’ and Alistair Anderson’s ‘Steel Skies’. Lillias founded the traditional music education company Focal Music Ltd, tutored for Newcastle University, Folkworks and The Sage Gateshead and has worked with the Scottish youth music project: Love Music Festival.

We have no doubt that you will fall in love with their music just as we have.

Mooney & Keatinge are a duo who are deeply rooted in the Scottish Borders. Moving beyond the traditional fiddle and accordian partnership, they blend the acoustic with the electronic to create an inventive and captivating soundscape.

Hawick-based fiddle player Shona Mooney is one of Scotland’s leading traditional musicians. Since winning the prestigious BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2006, she has appeared at international festivals such as Tønder (Denmark), gone on tour with Scottish Folk orchestra, The Unusual Suspects, The Shee, Borders Fiddles and recorded her debut album, ‘Heartsease (viola tricolour)’. Shona also works for the Scottish Borders Council in Arts Development as the Traditional and World Music Development Worker. She travels around the region organising projects within the schools and the community.

Christopher Keatinge has been playing the button accordion for 15 years now, under the tutorage of Ian Lowthian. In 2005 Chris won the Rotarty Club’s Young Musician of the Year, and was a 2006 finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year. Since then Christopher has performed across Scotland with the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2006, as part of Harris Playfair’s Coel Mor at the Aberdeen International Festival and most recently as part of the Border Tunesmiths, a collaborative project and concert of 9 Borders musicians.

Tickets are priced at £10 adult, £5 under-16s and just £25 for a family of five. They are available from St Boswells Post Office or via WeGotTickets.

Doors open at 7.30pm, Open Mic starts at 8pm – please call 01835 822692 if you would like to perform.

February 24, 2012 Show Information : Circus Envy and Torino

Doors open at 7.30pm with the music starting at 8pm. Please bring your own drinks and snacks.

Advance tickets are available from St Boswells Post Office or from the Border Events Box Office (subject to a £1.50 total booking fee).

Tickets are priced at £8, with under-16s at £4 and family tickets (2+3) at just £20.

St Boswells Live! tickets for the March 2012 show (Rachel & Lillias + Mooney & Keatinge) are available at the door at a 20% discount; this is the first place you will be able to buy them before they go on general sale.

This month’s show has been kindly sponsored by The Jedburgh Press.