With just days to go, Aberdeen is gearing up to host Scotland’s newest music festival with a weekend of gigs, pop-up performances in pubs, late night jamming sessions, workshops and a star-studded Neil Young celebration.
Starting on Friday (September 25), True North will turn a national spotlight on the North-east's singer songwriter tradition and provide a platform for the very best music and song, from ballads to contemporary classics.
Said Aberdeen Performing Arts’ chief executive Jane Spiers: “Music is part of our DNA here in the North-east; a living link between the balladeers of old and the songwriters of the future and we are delighted to be able to share this exciting celebration of contemporary songwriting with some amazing musical talent, from both the local and national stage.”
Devised, created and staged by Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) the three-day festival kicks off with an opening gig at The Lemon Tree featuring rising Scottish stars Fatherson, with support from the city’s own The 101, making this their biggest gig yet.
And that will be followed by the first of two late night sessions in the same venue, hosted by Hubby – aka RM Hubbert - featuring a series of special guests including James Blackshaw on the first night and Malcolm Middleton on the second.
A Saturday afternoon session in The Lemon Tree at 1pm, sees Wounded Knee, with Scott Gardner and others, performing and discussing song traditions from the North-east and beyond, using the Matt Armour song Generations of Change as a starting point. They will be joined by local young people who will have reinterpreted the song for life in Aberdeen today.
Saturday also features a host of free acoustic performances about the city centre – starting with James Blackshaw at the Maritime Museum 12pm, then Best Girl Athlete at the Mercat Cross, Castlegate at 2pm and Steven Milne at the St Nicholas Centre Bandstand at 3pm, winding up with Siobhan Wilson at the Maritime Museum at 4pm.
Later, there’s a series of consecutive pop-up performances in pubs starting in Brewdog with The Harmonica Movement (acoustic) from 5.30pm to 6.15pm and Leanne Smith from 6.15pm to 7pm, then in 6 Degrees North it’s Ashley Park from 7.30pm to 8.15pm and Cara Mitchell from 8.20pm to 9pm while at the Illicit Still there will be Robbie Flanagan from 9pm to 9.40pm and Daniel Mutch from 9.50pm to 10.20pm.
The award-winning and uniquely-talented singer-songwriter Tom Odell - named Songwriter of the Year at the 2014 Ivor Novello Awards ceremony - headlines the Saturday night gig at the Music Hall, with support from upcoming singer-songwriter Siobhan Wilson.
There’s a mellow start to Sunday, with an up-close-and-personal Songwriters’ Circle at 1pm in The Lemon Tree with Rick Redbeard of The Phantom Band, Jo Anthony of Last Ones Left and Steven Milne of The Little Kicks chatting about their songwriting style and playing some of their own work.
That’s followed by a late afternoon concert in Queen’s Cross Church, with a magnificent double bill featuring the eclectic The Unthanks and Scotland’s own Rachel Sermanni.
Singer-songwriter Roddy Hart – of Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire fame – is to host the final gala concert on Sunday night at the Music Hall, paying tribute to the work of Neil Young, ahead of his 70th birthday. The star-studded line-up for Long May You Run includes Eddi Reader, Justin Currie, Admiral Fallow, Emma Pollock, Withered Hand, Tommy Reilly and Blue Rose Code.
“Scotland has such a rich tradition of song that continues to this day, and it’s exciting to be involved with something that celebrates both established singer/songwriters and emerging artists,” said Roddy.
“I’m thrilled to be curating the closing gala concert at the Music Hall - we have a stellar line up of Scottish acts (plus a few artists from farther afield) coming to doff their caps to one of the most iconic songwriters of our time and perform some of his best known work.”
And True North winds up with a final late night gig at The Lemon Tree with famed Scots vocalists and musicians Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat and Scottish Album of the Year Award winner Kathryn Joseph.
Tickets for all of the True North gigs – including weekend passes - are available online at www.aberdeenperformingarts.com, by phone at 01224 641122 and at Aberdeen Box Office at the Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre.