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World premiere unveiled during Gizzen Briggs Fiddlers' Rally in Tain


By Hector MacKenzie

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Gizzen Briggs during the 28th annual fiddlers' rally.
Gizzen Briggs during the 28th annual fiddlers' rally.

The 28th annual Gizzen Briggs Fiddlers’ Rally provided a packed house with a superb evening’s entertainment in Tain’s Duthac Centre.

There were old tunes, new tunes, Orcadian tunes, Shetland tunes – and a world premiere – all performed under the baton of Lynsey Bolton.

A stirring opening by pipers Georgie Maclennan and Scott Murray was followed by the opening fiddle tune, Tilting the Scales, played with a characteristic Gizzen Briggs driving rhythm. The first half of the programme continued with a varied selection of tunes, including the infectious, syncopated rhythm of The Happy One-step and lilting Shetland tunes.There was a real lift to Crossing the Minch, while Last Tango in Harris, as the name might suggest, had a playful quality to it.

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One of the great highlights of this section of the programme was a pair of tunes written by Louise Douglas, which opened with beautiful, lyrical playing by soloists Lucy and Isla Robertson. The quality of the group’s soloists was further emphasised as Eilidh Charnley, Emma Racionzer, Lucy Robertson and Basile Etame provided the introduction to one of the evening’s new tunes, Castle Drive.

After an opportunity for socialising in the Duthac Centre’s lesser hall, the programme recommenced with a typical Gizzen Briggs set. Beginning with the stately Wee Michael’s March, the group then went through the gears, upping the pace to finish hectically with The Ramnee Ceilidh.

Throughout the evening Lucy Robertson, Sarah Macdonald and Michael Shaw provided introductions to the sets, giving background colour to many of the tunes. In one of the introductions Michael promised the audience that Liere’s Welcome to Cozac was “an absolute belter”. He was not wrong!Michael also provided a solo on accordion, along with Lucy Robertson on fiddle, for the lovely tune, Sileas.

Gizzen Briggs during the 28th annual fiddlers' rally.
Gizzen Briggs during the 28th annual fiddlers' rally.

Guest artists for the evening were Olivia Ross and Friends. In introducing them, Jimmy McLean explained the enormously impressive musical CVs of Olivia and her fellow musicians, Anna Massie, Signy Jakobsdottir and Laura-Beth Salter. Olivia provided the first ever public performance of a heart-felt song, Maria Rosa, written in honour of her recently born great-niece.

After two excellent sets by the guest artists, Olivia invited three friends to join them for their final tune – Louise Douglas, Rhona Sutherland and Debbie Ross. Earlier Jimmy McLean had raised an enormous roar of approval and enthusiastic applause when he mentioned Debbie’s recent induction into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.This group performance was hugely appreciated.

The final Gizzen Briggs set began with The Grey Dog, which created a sense of anticipation as the climax built through Zeto the Bubbleman to the exhilarating Davy Webster’s 40th.

The comperes had earlier indicated that the audience could expect a familiar encore, much to the delight of everyone. The Gael started with an other-worldly whistle solo from Aniera Powell, before building to the dramatic crescendo which provides the traditional finale to the Fiddlers’ Rally.

The evening had been a triumph. The huge number of Gizzen Briggers and guests on stage, Ross Macleod on lighting and Dan Kitchen on sound, together with an army of helpers behind the scenes, had provided entertainment of the highest quality.

Angus Gray


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