Cullerlie 2020

Cullerlie 2020

The 2020 Traditional Singing Weekend is CANCELLED 

In view of the persistence of the pandemic we have decided to cancel the festival this year.
We aim to run the weekend with the same guests in 2021. The dates are 23-25 July. We hope you will join us.
To mark the cancelled weekend we plan to hold some Zoom singarounds, 24-26 July 2020.
More information will follow nearer the time.



A Festival to celebrate the singing traditions of Scotland, England, and Ireland in memory of Tom and Anne Reid

The Guests | Programme | Booking | h-Hm | Organisers and Sponsors

The Festival is a unique celebration, bringing together outstanding traditional singers from Scotland, England, and Ireland. The event is especially for those who like to hear, enjoy, and join in unaccompanied traditional singing. Essentially informal, friendly and non-competitive, it will be just the place to encourage the young and less experienced as well as the old hands. The weekend includes ceilidhs featuring the guest singers, singarounds for everyone who wants to join in, workshops, craft demonstrations and a talk.

Cullerlie Farm Park and Heritage Centre was set up by Tom ('Tam') and Anne Reid in 1993 and is now run by Anne’s daughter Tracey Walker and her husband Eric, as well as other members of the family. Tom moved to the Cullerlie Estate with his parents in 1935, and worked with his father in the traditional way of farming. He kept the traditions alive by turning the old original steading into a farm museum with one of the largest privately owned collections of farming and domestic memorabilia in Scotland. Anne, who was from nearby Peterculter, joined Tom when they married in 1975.

Tom (born 1929) was a legendary singer, having been crowned, in 1977, the Bothy Ballad King before a crowd of 10,000 at the Haughs in Turriff, a title that remained his until his death in January 2003. Anne (1939–2006) was also a fine singer and promoted the traditions of the North-East through singing and speaking workshops with schoolchildren and adults at local schools and at the museum, as well as hosting regular Saturday-night ceilidhs. It is the family’s express wish that the festival should continue to run in memory of Tom and Anne.

At the Park there is a tearoom where members of staff serve soup, sandwiches, and lots of home cooking. They cater for all needs with a baby changing area plus disabled facilities. The Park nestles at the foot of the Hill of Fare where the battles of Corrichie and Cullerlie Moor were fought. It is 6 miles north-east of Banchory and 12 miles west of Aberdeen. From Aberdeen follow the A944 to the Westhill traffic lights, then turn left on the B9119 to Garlogie, then fork left again on the B9125 for 3 miles. The Park is on the right.

The Guests

Joe Aitken is one of the great upholders of North-East bothy ballads, who has taken his tradition to audiences all over Scotland, England, Ireland and Germany. The winner of many singing competitions, he is currently the Champion of Champions, having won the title for a record seven time at Elgin. Joe picked up his songs from some of the great tradtional singers, including Jimmy McBeath, Jock Duncan, Belle Stewart and Tom Reid. In 2018 he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.


Joe Aitken

Rachel Carstairs from Keith is currently studying Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she is in her third year. She is a passionate advocate for Scots song and continues to explore its rich repertoire. Rachel is described as 'one of Scotland's most exciting young traditional singers' by Aberdeen Folk Club. Her tutors include Wendy Weatherby, Fiona Hunter and Rod Patterson.


Rachel Carstairs

Nick Dow is considered one of the best folk voices of his generation and has been singing and collecting traditional songs for over forty years. His repertoire contains many items that you will hear nowhere else, including songs gleaned from the West Country and from the Travelling People, with whom he has lived and worked. He is trained in the dying art of Gypsy Wagon Painting and will be leading a workshop on Saturday and Sunday mornings


Nick Dow

Sarah Jane Gibbon hails from Orkney. Taught to sing by her mother, over the years she has performed with her mother and sister, as a solo artist, in the Song Shop Trio, various choirs and most recently with her sister. She co-led the Big Orkney Song Project collecting, investigating, reviving and teaching Orkney Songs in the local community. A tradition bearer and singer songwriter, her compositions are rooted in the landscapes, seascapes and heritage of Orkney.



Sarah Jane Gibbon
Photo: Sean Purser


Kirsty Hannah is a singer from Grimsby in Lincolnshire, who has spent time conducting her own research into the history of folk song collecting in the country. Many of the songs now feature in her repertoire and she loves to tell stories of the Lincolnshire singers wherever she goes. A resident singer at Grimsby Folk Club, she has performed at various local festivals and at Whitby.

Kirsty Hannah


Áine Larkin  grew up in County Mayo, with parents who love to sing. Singing traditional ballads with her three younger sisters was a regular habit from childhood. In her teens, Áine sang with a folk group called Saoirse, and discovered sean nós, singing in the Aran Islands. Paddy Berry was another strong influence later when her family moved to Wexford. From 2011 until the birth of her son three years ago, she was a regular at Aberdeen Folk Club.

Áine Larkin


Thomas McCarthy was born in Birr, County Offaly, into a well-respected Irish Traveller family. He learnt his craft of singing from his mother, aunts and uncles. He was 'discovered' in 2008 after a tip-off from a barman at a family wedding, which led him to Cecil Sharp House in London. He has sung at clubs and festivals throughout the UK and Ireland as well as in Europe and the USA. He has recorded three CDs and is the Traditional Singer of the Year in the Gradam Ceoil Awards of 2019.


Thomas McCarthy


Sean Mone is from Keady, a small town in County Armagh close to the border.

He has a fine traditional repertoire though is best known as a singer of self-composed ballads, mostly witty and casting a cold eye on subjects such as politics, smuggling, constitutional matters, and love or the lack of it.

His songs have been recorded by many singers and compositions such as @Lovers and Friends', 'Rosilita and Jack Campbell', and 'Trimble's Pimple' are often rendered where singers gather.

Sean Mone


Tony Robertson lives in Aberdeen and is the second son of the late great storyteller and balladeer, Stanley Robertson. He grew up immersed in the culture of his Traveller ancestors. His great aunt Jeannie Robertson MBE was an inspiration to him and her daughter, Lizzie Higgins, taught him many songs when he was young. Tony loves telling the old stories – the Jack tales, the creepy tales, family history and family legends. He is proud to be a keeper of the lore.


Tony Robertson

Tom Spiers has been involved in traditional folk song since the early 1960s. He was a founder member of the Gaugers, who specialised in music from NE Scotland and made several influential recordings in the 1970s and 80s. At various times he was also a member of Stramash and Shepheard Spiers & Watson. In 2013, the Gaugers were inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Tom now sings with his wife Maggie and daughter Emma as the Spiers Family.

Tom Spier

Tripple – Cait, Annie and Jill (sisters and mum) – have a love of the traditional songs of Scotland and enjoy arranging them in a contemporary way. Coupling interesting harmonies with finely tuned dynamics, they bring old songs and their stories to life. Annie, a former student at the NCETM in Plockton, has tutored at the Huntly Summer Music School and Fèis Fhiort. Cait runs youth bands and singing groups with SWAMP in Pollock and is the singer/songwriter in Glasgow indie band, Peplo. Tripple have performed at festivals across Scotland, Europe, USA and Canada.

Tripple - Cait, Annie and Jill











‘Come-All-Ye’ – weekenders & guests







Workshop A1



'‘Gansey Knitting’, Di Gilpin & Sheila Greenwell


Workshop A2



‘Gypsy Caravan Painting’, Nick Dow


Workshop B



‘My Family and Songs ’, Thomas McCarthy


Workshop C 



‘Farmhouse Cooking’, Shirley Foulkes


Workshop D 



‘Building a Traveller’s Bow Tent’, Davie Donaldson


      The Cullerlie Hour – Marquee



with Tom Spiers, 'Peter Hall – Singer, Musician, Collector'







Singaround A



Sarah Jane Gibbon


Singaround B



Áine Larkin


Singaround C



Joe Aitken


Long Tea Break





Grand Concert



In the Marquee
All Guests – hosted by Ian Russell and Scott Gardiner







Workshop A1



‘Gansey Knitting’, Di Gilpin & Sheila Greenwell


Workshop A2



‘Gypsy Caravan Painting’, Nick Dow


Workshop B



‘Comical Songs Are No Joke’, Sean Mone


Workshop D



‘Storytelling in the Bow Tent’, Tony Robertson


Lunchtime Singarounds












Kirsty Hannah and Rachel Carstairs





Informal music


Farewell Concert



In the Marquee. All Guests – hosted by Ian Russell and Scott Gardiner





= Marquee





= Bothy/Wash Hoose





= Tea Room or Outside


General Information about the Weekend

  • Food will be available over the weekend in the tea room
  • You can buy an all-weekend meal ticket at a discount
  • There will be no bar - BYOB
  • Camping and caravanning can be booked. There is a charge of £12.00 per pitch
  • There are several B&Bs in the area - for a list, contact Tourist Information: 01224 269180 (Banchory Library 01330 700441)
  • Bursaries are available for singers under 25 yrs in full-time education

Booking Enquiries - Tel: 01224 645486


This was one of Tom’s favourite songs. The original words,‘M-Hm’, are attributed to James Nicholson in John Greig’s Scots Minstrelsie (1893), VI, 302-04.

Hiv ye heard o the deil as he wauchled through life
With a wife in ilk oxter an een in his teeth
Till some-een bawled out will ye tak mine the morn
He waggit his tail an he cockit his horn
But he only said ‘im-hm’, that daft-like word ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, that stands for an ‘aye’.

Now fin I wis a callant lang syne at the skweel
Oh the maister aye caed me a dunce an a feel
For aa that he said I cuid ne’er unnerstan
Except when he cried, ‘Jimmy, will ye haud oot yer han?’
Then I gloomed an said ‘im-hm’, I glowered an said ‘im-hm’
I wis nae that prood bit ower dour tae say, ‘aye’.

Syne ae day a queer wird like aul-nibbet’s himsel
He vowed he wid thrash me if I widnae spell
Says I, ‘Mr Quill’ wi a kind of a swither
I’ll spell ye the wird if ye’ll spell me anither
Lat’s hear ye spell ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, ye ken it means ‘aye’

Syne he steid an he glowered an he scratched his aul pate
An he shouted, Ye villain get oot o ma gate
Get aff tae yer seat, ye’re a plague o the skweel
The deil gin I ken if ye’re maist rogue or feel
Bit I only said ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, ye ken it means ‘aye’.

Oh and when a braw wooer I coorted my Jean
O aa the braw lassies the pride an the queen
When in my great plaidie wi hairt beatin’s pain
O I speired in a whisper, Oh! if she’d be my ain
She smiled an said ‘im-hm’, she blushed an said ‘im-hm’
A thoosan times sweeter an dearer than ‘aye’.

Well bit noo I’m a dad wi a hoose o my ain
A dainty-bit wife aye an mair than ae wean
Bit the warst o’t is this when I question I speir
They pit on a luik sae auld-farrant an queer
An they only say ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’ that stans for an ‘aye’.

Noo ye’ve heard o this ‘im-hm’, it’s no a nice wird
When printit on paper it’s perfect absurd
So if you’re ower lazy tae open yer maw
Jist haud o yer tongue an say nothing ava
But niver say ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, ye ken it means ‘aye’.

Festival Organisers

Tracey Walker (Anne’s daughter) and Eric Walker, Jim Taylor (Tom’s nephew), and Scott Gardiner on behalf of Cullerlie Farm Park and Ian and Norma Russell on behalf of The Elphinstone Institute

Thank you to our Sponsors

Breedon Aggregates
Coupers (Fish Processors) of Aberdeen
Davidson & Murison Ltd
The Elgin Rotary Club
The Friends of the Elphinstone Institute
And to other much appreciated donors