Tradfest has become firmly established as a part of Edinburgh’s festival scene in the last few years. This year’s programme was bigger and better than ever. Based at its hub at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the Canongate, but rippling out across Edinburgh, it now rivals Glasgow’s Celtic Connections as an attraction for Scotland’s traditional music and culture and with a much smaller budget.
I attended two of the opening events before I was struck down with the reviewer’s enemy, sciatica, caused by too much sitting at concerts. So now I spend part of my time at concerts standing, which gives a different perspective on the concerts.
Opening night concert A Braw Nicht Oot at the Storytelling Centre resembled a family concert with storytellers, a band and some talented young performers. It could have benefitted from a rather more structured programme with perhaps a “big name” to boost it. However, it was a pleasant opening evening.
On The Radical Road at Summerhall was a play about the life and work of the great Scottish bard, Hamish Henderson. It was put together by Raymond Ross, using Hamish’s words, from his early poems to his great songs, including Freedom Come All Ye – Scotland’s unofficial national anthem. Although, as Hamish always said, “it’s an international anthem!” The show was put on by Theatreobjektiv, with the venerable Alastair McDonald as music director and lead singer, and three very talented young actors – Isabella Jarrett, Vanda de Luca and Gavin Paul – singing, dancing and acting. It made for one of the most thrilling evenings in the theatre I’ve had for years. There are plans to bring the show to the Festival. If it makes it, don’t miss it, it’s brilliant. If I could give it six stars, I would!
That Was The Wick That Was and Nancy’s Whisky was a double-header evening concert in the Storytelling Centre’s Netherbow Theatre. It told the story of a once great town, Wick, that has grown sadly neglected. A full review is here. With audiences loving this and other concerts, Tradfest continues to grown in reputation.