Traditional music in safe hands

Aaron and Robyn
Aaron and Robyn

Last weekend’s concert at The Swallow Theatre, near Sorbie, was sold out weeks ago and the reason for that became quickly obvious as an utterly delightful evening began with songs from the North East of Scotland.

Robyn Stapleton sang a variety of songs rooted in the traditions of work, love, loss, humour, and intrigue.

Her singing was clear, wonderfully melodic and demonstrated skilled versatility through light delivery in such songs as ‘The Shuttle Rins’ and ‘The Two Sisters’ to a powerful, haunting depth of tone in ‘MacCrimmon’s Lament’. The audience were engrossed in her mesmerizing delivery of powerful ballads such as ‘Lord Ronald’ and the unforgettable ‘Willie o’Winsbury’.

The evening was not entirely traditional however, including as it did Bill Caddick’s ‘John o’Dreams’ (one of the best versions I have ever heard). There was plenty of local interest with (besides the local dialect) songs recently discovered in the McMath collection at Broughton House in Dumfries.

Aaron Jones is a widely talented singer and musician and enhanced the songs with his sensitive, responsive and delicate accompaniments. His experienced musicianship is any singers dream! He did, however, treat us to some songs which helped even the slowest of us to join in with simple choruses (‘Across the Western Ocean’ and ‘Saints and Sinners’).

Traditional music and song is passed on through the generations, often orally/aurally, and young performers owe much to those who went before. It was heartening to see Robyn and Aaron acknowledging their sources with respect and treating the material with great integrity. On the basis of this wonderful concert, the ‘Tradition’ is in safe hands.