Chapbook - A link to the North East’s Folk Music History

Some of the very first words of Scotland’s mid-twentieth century Folk Revival commended the folk music of Aberdeenshire: speaking in Edinburgh in 1951 the folklorist Hamish Henderson ushered in the revival movement while praising the ‘fine rumbustious quality’ of Buchan folksongs.1 The North East had long held a significant position in the history of Scottish folk music, and with the development of the Revival over the following two decades the area’s stature as a centre of folksong would become even more renowned.

I am a PhD student researching the Revival in Scotland. I have a dual purpose in mind in writing this article: to share with you a little of Aberdeen’s musical history, especially as it relates to the Revival movement; and to seek out anybody who may have old copies of Chapbook, the Revival magazine of Aberdeen Folksong Club, who might be able to help me with my research. First, let me sing for my supper.

A reputation for folksong

The North East’s reputation for folksong dates back at least several centuries. Danny Couper, fish merchant and co-founder of Aberdeen Folk Club, explains this history through the area’s links with fishing and farming.2 Fishing communities all over Scotland have traditions of song and choir; more local to Aberdeen are the Bothy Ballads, written and sung by North East farm workers and named for the basic farm buildings in which they lived. Aberdeenshire was also home to many Travellers who took part in an active oral culture which included singing and storytelling.

The area’s strong links to ongoing musical traditions attracted people interested in folksongs and ballads for many years before the Revival: 91 of Francis James Child’s seminal collection of 305 ballads, from the second part of the nineteenth century, are from Aberdeenshire;3 while Gavin Grieg and James Bruce Duncan’s revered collection, from the start of the twentieth century, includes nearly two-thousands songs recorded in the North East.

All ears turned to the North East

Unsurprisingly, then, when the Scottish Folk Revival of the mid-twentieth century got underway all ears turned once again to the North East. The Revival was a far-reaching movement to re-introduce the people of Scotland to a style of folk music which many, especially in urban central-belt areas, knew little about. Spanning the 1950s and 60s, the Revival had different intentions for different people: to ‘save’ what was seen by some as a dying culture; to regenerate that culture and give it a renewed vitality; to show that the everyday culture and experiences of normal people were worthwhile, meaningful and powerful; and to address political issues through this form of popular culture. With so many aims, the movement also spanned a range of activities.

A caricature of the folk revivalist Hamish Henderson on the back of Chapbook 2.5

In its first decade, the 1950s, a lot of the Revival centred around finding and recording folksong singers. The largest amount of so-called ‘collecting’ was carried out by workers from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Folklorists from the institution, such as Calum MacLean and Hamish Henderson, utilised new portable technology to visit and record singers, storytellers, and other people who took part in traditional culture all over Scotland. Many people who collectors revered for their knowledge of folksong were from the North East, including Jessie Murray, Jimmy MacBeath and Jeannie Robertson – all singers who many involved in Scottish folk music nowadays would still think of very highly.

Aberdeen Folksong club

By the turn of the decade, the collecting-focus of the early years was giving way to growing public interest in folksong. In the early 1950s, a series of ceilidhs had been organised in Edinburgh as part of the People’s Festival, designed ‘By Working People for Working People.’4 These introduced people to folk music, demonstrated that the tradition had not yet disappeared, and set some on their own path to folk revivalism. From the late 1950s through to the end of the Revival, a growth of public-facing activities introduced new audiences to longstanding folksingers and generated a huge uptake in folk singing among fresh enthusiasts. Commercial records were published, print and broadcasting media gave increasing time to folk music, and across the country folk clubs and festivals were founded.

Aberdeen Folksong Club was founded in 1962 by Danny Couper, introduced above, and Arthur Argo, a journalist and great-grandson of the previously-mentioned collector Gavin Greig. Most folk club meetings in this period followed a similar set-up: an invited guest would perform several times across an evening, and the rest of the night would consist of ‘floor spots’ where club members and the audience could contribute. Where Aberdeen Folksong Club differed was in the ongoing vitality of the musical culture which surrounded it.

An excerpt from Chapbook 5.3 of the tune and lyrics of ‘Busk, Busk’ as sung by Cathy Stewart

While clubs elsewhere in Scotland might have to look around the country for guests, singers local to Aberdeen were also some of the hallowed names of the Revival. Well-grounded as it was in the region’s traditional music, though, the Club could also draw in larger acts; Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Jean Ritchie, and Martin Carthy all topped the bill at Club nights or festivals within a few years of its opening. Couper explains how, for Argo, Northeast songs were part of a ‘global context’;5 for many involved in the Revival, at Aberdeen Folksong Club and elsewhere, folk music spoke to the international experiences of working people.

The revival and Chapbook

Aside from live performances, Aberdeen Folksong Club also played another major role in the Revival: the Club magazine Chapbook, published from 1964 to 1969, became the de facto publication of the Scottish movement. The magazine was edited by Argo, initially in Aberdeen and later from Edinburgh, and Ian Philip and Carl MacDougall, who brought perspectives from the West of Scotland. Chapbook took its name from small, cheap paper booklets sold as street literature mostly throughout the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

The magazine, which regularly ran to over 30 pages, contained matters relevant to both the Aberdeen and national folk scene: new and old songs, notices and reviews of events and records, and discussions on topics ranging from the state of Scottish folk clubs to William McGonagall’s relationship with ‘folk-poetry’. Some magazines also contained more miscellaneous content, like cartoons of prominent folkies or instructions for homebrewing beer!

3 – A selection of Chapbook magazines and Aberdeen Folk Festival programmes

As I mentioned at the start of this article I am researching the Folk Revival in Scotland and, given the forefront position of Chapbook within the movement, very keen to study as many copies of the magazine as I can. My research looks especially at the Revival’s cultural-political position and, as part of this, I’m interested in how people took part in, viewed, and talked about folk music during the period. Chapbook offers a great window into the Revival, demonstrating what the people running and attending folk clubs felt should be shared with the national movement. Some copies of the magazine are available through libraries in Edinburgh, but the collections are far from complete and aren’t the most accessible to me at present.

Can you help in finding copies of Chapbook

I would therefore love to hear from anybody who might have an old copy or two tucked away that they would be willing to let me look at (for my purposes a photocopy would suit just as well as the real thing!). If you might be able to help please contact me via email at

Although the focus of this article has been historical Aberdeen Folk Club is, of course, not a thing of the past. The Club, which has long since dropped ‘song’ from its title to reflect the post-revival growth of instrumental folk music, still meets regularly. The group can be found every Wednesday at the Blue Lamp, 121 Gallowgate, beginning from 8 pm for an 8.30 pm start. Singers, instrumentalists and listeners are all welcome for sessions and open mic nights, and the Club also hosts occasional concerts from visiting artists. Aberdeen Folk Club just celebrated their 60th birthday and are still one of the top clubs going, winning Club of the Year at the most recent Scots Trad Music Awards. The prize is demonstrative that that ‘fine’ folk song Henderson identified in the North East in the 1950s still has a home in Aberdeen.


1 This event was the first Edinburgh People’s Festival Ceilidh, which I discuss more below. A recording of Henderson speaking these words can be found at the Lomax Digital Archive.

2 Quoted in Ewan McVicar, The E****o Republic: Scots political folk song in action 1951 to 1999 (Linlithgow: Gallus Publishing, 2010), p. 137

3 Les Wheeler, ‘Traditional Ballads in North East Scotland

4 Hamish Henderson, ‘The Edinburgh People’s Festival, 1951-54’ in A Weapon in the Struggle: The Cultural History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, ed. by Andy Croft (London; Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 1998), pp. 163-170 (p. 165)

5 Quoted in McVicar, p. 261

Namebliss on the mic in the foreground of a live performance, while Vagrant Real Estste DJs in the background wearing a Scotland football shirt

Biggest Belief - new track from Vagrant Real Estate and Namesbliss

Aberdeen Producer Vagrant Real Estate and rapper Namesbliss have released a new track titled 'Biggest Belief.' This introspective anthem is a relatable gem and is now available to stream everywhere. The duo recently completed their first international music festival at Future Echoes 2023 in Sweden, where they premiered the track. It was also named the BBC Scotland Introducing Track of the Week on March 11th.

A testament to their musical talent and ability to create something relatable and inspiring

This is the second single from their upcoming collaboration album. It has an incredibly well-balanced mix of an irresistible rhythmic melody and a harmonic hook. The track has also been infused with 'light and hope' delivered by DeeRiginal, a fellow UK artist whose work shines through. This track is a soul-quenching listening experience you don't want to miss.

Vagrant Real Estate smiles to the camera. he's wearing a checked shirt and a black t-shirt
Photo by Chris Sansbury / POST

'Biggest Belief' invites listeners to look within themselves and find hope, inspiration, and motivation. Namesbliss's lyrics are relatable and brooding, making them easy to connect with. The song is also beautifully produced and really showcases Vagrant Real Estate's talent.

This latest release from the pair is a testament to their musical talent and ability to create something relatable and inspiring. 'Biggest Belief' is a song worth your time, an excellent reminder that hope and positivity can be found even in dark times.

Biggest Belief is available now

Namesbliss and Vagrant Real Estate have delivered a true gem. This song is a perfect representation of their musical talent and their ability to create something that is both relatable and inspiring. If you haven't already, spend a little time with this track.

Temp Check: The Little Kicks' Steven Milne

The Little Kicks released their highly anticipated fifth album 'People Need Love' this week. Their first since 2017's successful 'Shake off Your Troubles.' The release sees the lead singer and songwriter Steven Milne explore the darker side of life while maintaining their infectious guitar-led vocal pop positivity.

Listen to the album on your favourite streaming service now.

The band recorded most of the album in 2019 and completed it in 2020, but the pandemic pushed the release until now. With so much love and effort put into the recording, they wanted to give it the very best chance to shine.

It's a very busy few days in Steven's life. We caught up with him ahead of the release of the album and fresh off a successful True North festival (Steven is an artist booker for Aberdeen Performing Arts). The Little Kicks also have live dates on the schedule across the country, so we are delighted that he took some time out to answer our questions.

The Little Kicks

Let's go back to the start. The Little Kicks have been releasing albums for 13 years now. How did you meet up?

Our first LP came out in 2009 but I don’t think we really found our feet until after we released our second LP (in 2011). That album’s material was so well received (particularly when playing at festival sets) and as a result, I think we felt a lot more confident to continue.

When we then tried to vary our sound on 'Put Your Love In Front Of Me' (2013) by incorporating a bit more of a concept to the record, using more strings and synths etc it became our most popular release. So we have been quite lucky that we aren’t bound by one sound and can sort of change as our influences and tastes change.

We all met through playing in various other bands or sharing stages so being in this band as a unit now feels like a natural fit. I think it has helped that we all have varying music tastes and we have had a couple of line-up changes along the way which has kept things fresh - we jokingly compare ourselves to the Sugababes and that at one point I will ultimately be next to be replaced.

Did you have big ambitions for The Little Kicks at the time or was it a case of having a bit of fun, letting off steam and seeing where it takes you?

I think probably when we started yeah. Speaking personally as a kid in your room you want to be as big as you can get and we perhaps had bigger ambitions previously but the music is the most important thing to me now.

I like the idea of a body of work that has a natural flow and I hope that each time we follow up the previous LP with a new release that it’s a development in some way and that we are not sounding the same. Perhaps the music may have similarities in sound (my voice/ our writing and playing style) but it has to change somehow to keep both us and the listener interested.

We probably had our biggest following locally when we came out sounding like The Strokes and Interpol waaayy back but it would be dull to still be like that now – for both the audience and us. In saying that, if the opportunity came along to get out there full-time we would take it with both hands, we want our music to be heard as far and wide as possible.

The Little Kicks singer and songwriter, Steven Milne

You, yourself have had your challenges coming through covid, becoming a dad for the first time, then losing your own dad. How do you think has that impacted this new album?

Our last LP came out in March 2017 but it had been finished for a wee while so I had started sketching for what became to be this record. My eldest was born in August and my Dad died very suddenly that November and we were very close. We were meant to go to Canada the week after he died, we obviously didn’t go, and I took some time off. Obviously, that was a strange mix of emotions (having become a father and losing mine) and it did knock me off compass for some time.

The year ahead (2018) had been planned as a writing year (other than two big shows at Belladrum & King Tuts) so come Spring 2018 I would try and pick up with the ideas I had begun the year before but the songs were becoming very sad (which I couldn’t help) and not really the direction I wanted to go.

The 2017 record 'Shake Off Your Troubles' best-received feature was its positivity so I didn’t want to make a downer but I needed to get how I felt out of my system as that’s how I usually deal with things. Slowly I managed to tip the balance in the right direction and I started bringing ideas into the room and sending demo ideas around.

The lads were great about it and incredibly encouraging which made me feel better about sending such personal lyrics out – although I admit now on the almost eve of the LP coming out it is strange to think other people will hear them.

The album (I think) is, on the whole, a very positive record but my hope would be that if someone is going through similar emotions to what I experienced I hope they can hear something in the words that chime with them and that maybe it can give them some comfort.

The band originally planned to release the album last year. It must feel like this one is kind of in the rearview for you? Are you already working on the next album?

Not at all actually, it has been a pretty constant process somehow since it was finished/ mastered in Autumn 2020. During the first wave of Covid, we were literally one session from finishing the record so we had to sit at a standstill of course but in 2021 we began planning ahead.

We commissioned the artist for the artwork paintings and whittled down which to use, our drummer Scott took on a new band space for us to use and kitted it out as a studio, we had to get the vinyl designed and ordered and we began rehearsing.

I have some sketches on my phone but there hasn’t been a huge desire to work on any further new material (or much time/ things to write about!) but once this album comes out I am sure I will get some brain space to get going again. To be honest, I am really so proud of these 10 songs which are sitting ready to go and all I have thought about for some time is how much I can’t wait to get out and play them live and let people hear them.

The Little Kicks from the Ruminations Video

The Bon Accord Baths pool was a great backdrop for the Ruminations video. It really reflected the song's lyrics. What was it like filming there?

An immense honour to be honest. We cannot thank the BAB team enough for facilitating our access to the space and helping us make it work. Snap who made the video also did a fantastic job. To make that shoot happen took so much work from all sides and I am still a little in disbelief that we got in there.

Obviously being from Aberdeen and having grown up swimming there it was cool to be back in the space. Every room could be a film set it has so much character and the natural light in the pool area is amazing. It wasn’t without its challenges (illness cancelled the first shoot at a day’s notice, the venue has no power etc.) but we are overjoyed with the final result.

What do you love most, touring or recording? The three singles released from People Need Love have a nice distinctive crisp sound. How deeply do you get involved in the production of the Little Kicks music?

If I had to choose I would have to say I love being in the studio. It’s such a great way to spend time, being creative and trying things to make the songs happen together – this was especially true for this record.

We recorded in Chem19 in Hamilton with Paul Savage (his production credits are endless and too long to list) and he really elevated the songs to a different level. He knew how to push us in the right direction in terms of our performance and what the song needed (without being pushy about it) and he stopped us fussing over tiny details or ironing out creases within the mixing of the songs (which is a previous bad habit of ours). I think this is why the album has the energy it has.

Steven Milne at the piano

Paul was keen for us to attend the mixing sessions wherever possible so I was fortunate to sit in and watch him work which was really cool. As he is fortunate to have accumulated lots of outboard equipment he doesn’t believe in using lots of digital or computer effects and prefers to make sure he gets what’s going in sounding good to cut the editing or mixing work down later. So there was a lot of emphasis on getting a strong performance down.

Also, some of his techniques with microphones for the drums or how he treated guitars & vocals, blended the synths in the mix were fascinating to watch and I truly hope we get to do another LP with him, so everyone reading do please buy this one.

On some of your upcoming live shows, you're playing with the Cairn String Quartet. You've worked with before…including on the new album. What do they bring to The Little Kicks' live experience?

I love the sound of strings in music and I think hearing them live is going to be very emotive and be the cherry on the cake for the live shows we have with them. When they did their parts in the studio we were blown away by what they added to the sound and considering their current engagement is to be on tour with Biffy Clyro I am staggered they have agreed to come and play with us.

As they are session musicians in high demand it’s doubtful (unfortunately) to be something we will repeat in a live capacity after these shows so do come and see us this Autumn.

The Little Kicks - People Need Love - Artwork

Album artwork is clearly important to you. Tell us about the artwork for this new release.

We all collect vinyl and enjoy that listening experience. Our last two LPs have almost sold out of their vinyl editions so it was a no-brainer to get this one made on vinyl which allows the option to think more creatively with the artwork.

We felt like the title was a cool statement and Adam liked the artist Georgie Bell (the painter of the artwork on the sleeve) – we all agreed that having the title over one of her artworks would be a cool cover. Our friend Michael Chang helped us achieve this by spending a lot of time on the cover design (style, layout, fonts and direction) and as a result, we went to town on the vinyl edition. It has a die-cut sleeve with three different paintings from Georgie Bell that can be used as cover options and the vinyl is clear/ opaque.

The insert also has all the lyrics within as well as a dedication to my Dad. As a package, it is a truly beautiful thing.

What excites you about music? Who are you listening to right now?

I love checking out the new LP releases every Friday and I always like hearing new things. The latest things I have been enjoying at home are the new album by James Righton (formerly of the Klaxons now produced by Soulwax), Andrew Wasylyk’s back catalogue (instrumental composer from Dundee who is also in Idlewild), Nina Simone (specifically a live album I picked up) and I’ve been on a solo McCartney tip of late.

In a live capacity, I have really enjoyed Zoe Graham's 'Medicine Cabinet & Rival Saints' in the last few weeks, and in terms of upcoming records, I am looking forward to the new Arctic Monkeys LP based on the single and their last LP, which I loved.

This year the most listened to LP in our house is probably Harry Styles' last LP 'Harry's House'. It's an absolute banger.

We'd like to thank Steven again for taking the time to answer our questions in such a thoughtful and candid manner. This has been one of our favourite Temp Check interviews.

You can buy 'People Need Love' on vinyl from The Little Kicks' website, where you can also get tickets to their upcoming tour. You find the album on your favourite streaming service. Finally, please make sure to support and follow The Little Kicks on Twitter or Instagram.

True North to soundtrack the city

The True North music festival returns to Aberdeen this weekend from Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 September. Django Django, Scottish alt-rockers Travis, soul superstar Mica Paris, and world music legend Nitin Sawhney are among the acts playing.

With this year's festival celebrating its eighth anniversary, city venues will include the Music Hall and Lemon Tree. True North will also take over the spectacular pop-up venue Wonder Hoose. Furthermore, there's a Fringe program with free festival performances at SiberiaWaterstones, and the Music Hall's Coda Café.

Throughout September, Wonder Hoose has been running in the stunning surroundings of Marischal College's Quadrangle. The venue will host the opening act of this year's True North festival, local up-and-comer AiiTee, along with Emma PollockStina Marie Claire, and Michael Timmons.

Travis will play the Music Hall on Saturday, 24 September performing classic album The Invisible Band in full. They'll also play their other greatest hits. Upon its release in 2001, The Invisible Band spent four weeks at number one in the UK album charts. It is certified four-times Platinum. The album was produced by Nigel Godrich He is also known for his work with Radiohead as well as producing Travis’ nine-time Platinum album The Man Who.

Los Bitchos | True North
Los Bitchos | True North

A True North tribute to Aretha Franklyn

Mica Paris will be joined by Aberdeen’s own international singing sensation Emeli Sande, celebrated jazz singer Georgia Cecile and other special guests at the Music Hall on Sunday, 25 September for a stunning celebration of the music of the legendary Aretha Franklin.

Internationally renowned composer Nitin Sawhney takes to the Music Hall stage on Friday, 23 September. Described as one the most distinctive and versatile musical voices around today, Sawhney has become a modern-day ‘Renaissance man’ in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theatre. He has over 20 studio albums to his name. These include solo albums, film soundtracks and compilations. Sawhney also has over 50 film scores! He has received a substantial wealth of major national and international awards for his work.

Nitin Sawhney | True North
Nitin Sawhney | True North

A diverse exciting line-up

Aberdeen Performing Arts' Ben Torrie said that True North has always been a fantastic opportunity to celebrate great music. "This year is no exception with world renowned artists like Nitin Sawhney, Travis, Mica Paris and Emeli Sande sharing the bill with some of Scotland's brightest new talent.

“It’s a really diverse, exciting line up, and our beautiful pop-up venue Wonder Hoose, which has been open throughout September, has warmed us up nicely for the festival this weekend. “It’s a chance to have a great night out, enjoy your favourite music, discover amazing new artists and let us entertain you this weekend.”

The line-up also includes alt-rock favourites Django Django, latino outfit Los Bitchos and the exuberant African Groove Machine at the Lemon Tree, and joining AiiTee on the Wonder Hoose line up over the weekend will be Emma Pollock, Honeyblood’s Stina Marie Claire and Michael Timmons as well as interactive family shows from CBeebie’s favourite YolanDa’s Band Jam and Sprog Rock.

Travis | The Invisible Band in Concert

True North's free fringe programme

The Fringe programme, taking place across venues including the Music Hall’s Coda Café, Waterstones and Siberia, features a line up of some of Scotland’s brightest talents. This includes Callum Gibson, Nani, Nikhita, Adam Thom and Michael Timmons.

Full details for True North Festival are available at Tickets are on sale now. They are available from

True North 2022 Line Up

Emeli Sandé to join Mica Paris for True North

Emeli Sandé is set join soul superstar Mica Paris at the True North Festival at Aberdeen Music Hall on Sunday, September 25, to celebrate the legendary Aretha Franklin's musical legacy.

It is going to be an unforgettable evening, with Mica and Emeli leading the way through the iconic singer's classic repertoire, accompanied by other special guests.

Emeli Sandé said: "I am so excited to be joining the incredible Mica Paris at the True North Music Festival in my home town to celebrate the music of the legendary Aretha Franklin! It's going to be a powerful evening of Soul!”

Aberdeen Performing Arts' new Chief Executive, Andy Eagle said: “Emeli Sandé is no stranger to the Music Hall, having grown up in Aberdeenshire as well as being an ambassador for the venue during its renovation in recent years.

“Along with Mica, they are two of the strongest female voices on the British music scene, and to have them come together to celebrate the music of the sublime Aretha Franklin is really something special.

True North's eighth year is one of its biggest

As part of its eighth year, True North will feature performances by Gentle Sinners featuring Aidan Moffat and James Graham, latino outfit Los Bitchos and the exuberant African Groove Machine. The Wonder Hoose will host a series of early evening gigs. There will be performances by AiiTEE, Emma Pollock, Honeyblood's Stina Marie Claire, and Michael Timmons. CBeebies favourite YolanDa's Band Jam and Sprog Rock will also perform interactive family shows.

True North Festival will take place in venues across Aberdeen from September 22-25. Previously announced acts including Scottish alt-rockers Travis and internationally renowned composer Nitin Sawhney.

The Fringe line up, takes place across venues including the Music Hall’s Coda Café, Waterstones and Siberia. It features a line up of some of Scotland’s brightest talents, including Callum Gibson, Nani, Nikhita, and Michael Timmons.

The Gig: The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks were back on stage in Aberdeen this weekend after a long pandemic-enforced break. The band were on a high with a new single release, with more new music on the way. Their first release since 2017, it's a track we can't get enough of right now. Vansleep and Dee supported the headliners along with a late-night DJ set.

We sent our friend Kimbo along to The Tunnels on Carnegie's Brae to cover the event and report back.

I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to be exposed to new music. So this Saturday I headed out with my gig buddy Cathers to see what was going off at The Tunnels.

Three local acts were on the card on a night which ended a week of gigging fun for me. They brought some unique sounds and fun and funky beats to a beautiful night. By the end of the sets, eager fans had packed out The Tunnels and a brilliant night had by all.



Kicking off the night was Scott Dee, better known as just Dee. He bounced up onto that stage sporting the best of his tracksuit tops and drinking from a full carton of fresh orange on the stage. When I saw him munching on sweeties and throwing Freddos to the crowd, I knew I was going to like him. He brought the fun with him and had us all disco dancing before we knew where we were. 

He boogied, kick dropped and bounced his way on and off that stage, treating us to songs of romance and breakups. One of those tracks, Amanda, had every member of the crowd singing along. I could barely concentrate on his sound for smiling. I was transfixed by his superior dance moves. Dee oozed stage presence and confidence and by the time he got to his track Restless Knights, we were all fully involved and wondering what he was going to do next. He spread positivity, was full of energy, and it was a joy to watch. It was also nice to see how thankful he was to the lads at The Little Kicks for giving him the opportunity to support.



Vansleep took to the stage and this quartet know how to make an entrance. From the first note, I just knew this would be a spectacular set from the Aberdeen indie/ alternative rock band. 

Their lead singer Kyle was suited and booted and ready to rock with a powerful deep vocal that went beautifully with driving guitar melodies. There was a clear connection between them from the off, with some incredible jamming going on everywhere you looked on stage.

Over the pandemic, I came across a band called Hardwicke Circus. I found myself thinking there were similarities to Kyle when hearing more of their tracks. I particularly enjoyed Stargazer. Cathers and I were both completely lost in the music as the band built up their tunes. Vansleep performed some seriously heavy guitar riffs, and we were both very impressed. I would definitely want to see these guys again. 

The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks were the headline. I'm ashamed to say despite being an Aberdeen band, this was my first time to see them. It definitely won't be the last.

I had listened to a few tracks, but seeing them live Ic could feel the energy, experience and how tight they were as a band.

Soaring vocals from Steven and some of the most beautiful harmonies I've heard in a while and I gig a lot! The Little Kicks delivered their track, Goodbye Enemies, unbelievably powerfully and I have to say their drummer is an exceptional talent. 

The whole set all felt funky and full of good vibes. They packed in a fantastic set with one track stripped back so we could hear even more of the beauty of Steven on his own with the guitar. A beautiful moment before they ended the night with The Tunnels in a total bounce.

The most recent track Ruminations went down a storm. They filmed the accompanying video at the Bon Accord Baths. It's available now. Check it out and look out for new material from them in October 2022. I'm looking forward to it already.

The Little Kicks back with Ruminations

The Little Kicks are back with a great new single, Ruminations. This is the first piece of music the band has released since 2017. Written during the pandemic, it was a response to the worrying times we lived through.

Ruminations is an excellent track…one of my favourite from the band. It’s bass heavy, harmonious and has a powerful, urgent beat that always feels like it’s trying to push past it’s slumberous pace. I’ve had it on heavy rotation since we got a sneak preview earlier in the week.

Lead singer Steven Milne told us, “Despite its laid-back nature and stately pace, I wrote this song in the middle of a frantic period of life where things felt a little crazy. While excitedly preparing for the arrival of our son I decided to also lock myself away to get as much writing done in the months before his impending arrival.”

Many Aberdeen folk will be particularly captivated by the accompanying video. With footage shot at the city's Bon Accord Baths, the video shows the ‘Uptown Baths' current grungy state, along with glimpses of its impressive Art Deco past.

Opened in 1940 and closed back in 2008, the Bon Accord Baths has a special place in the heart of Aberdeen. It’s currently managed by Bon Accord Heritage who are working to open them up again as a community owned project. This is the latest in a series of projects making use of the magnificent space.

Aberdeen based company Snap were behind the production of the Ruminations video. The director was James Galbraith, with stunning photography by Will Farquhar.

The Little Kicks will soon be playing live in Aberdeen again. A much anticipated gig at The Tunnels on 25 June will re-introduce the four piece to their home crowd.

Their regular tour schedule has brought them a great deal of success throughout the UK and Europe. They were also shortlisted in the Best Musical Group category of the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards in 2017.

Aberdeen Events

Check out The Little Kicks Live on Aberdeen Events

Find more events and activities in the Aberdeen Events Calendar

Back to Light the Blue

Light the Blue youth festival will return to the city this June to celebrate the best and brightest local young talent. Venues will host a dynamic and energetic programme of dance, music, film, and spoken word performances. These will take place from Thursday 16 - Saturday 18 June.

Young people across the region and beyond will have the opportunity to get involved, spark conversation, collaborate and celebrate their talent while experiencing an inspirational event program. Light The Blue is a bold and exciting addition to the North-East’s cultural programme. This is an event created by and for young people.

Susan Whyte of Aberdeen Performing Arts, Susan Whyte, said: “Light the Blue is a snapshot of young talent across Aberdeen and beyond, right now.

“The aim of the festival is to spark imaginations and start conversations. To bring young creative minds together and create unforgettable experiences. So we’re really excited and proud to be showcasing these talented, creative artists and performers.

Light the Blue | Thursday

Music Hall’s Big Sky Studio will be the venue for the opening performance of the Light Blue Festival on Thursday, 16 June. In honour of the city and its achievements, Aberdeen Performing Arts' Young Company and Grampian Hospitals Art Trust will perform 'All About People'. The Foresterhill campus community is the focus of this short film with a mixture of sound, imagery, and live performances from the Young Company. Also, A live beatbox set by Jason Singh will set the tone for the festival weekend.

Light the Blue Festival 2022 | Jason Singh

After that, the first event of the Fuse multi-bill series will be held at the Lemon Tree. The program for the show will include performances from the Aberdeen Performing Arts Senior and Intermediate Youth Theatres, City Moves and Ten Feet Tall Theatre Company. Their performances will showcase the talents of young people through theatre, dance, and film.

Finally the day will close with a DJ set by Jason Singh featuring soul, funk, spiritual house, reggae, bhangra, drum and bass, disco, garage, Afrobeat, and more.

Light the Blue | Friday

The Friday, 17 June event schedule will include free workshops on Hip Hop and a scratch night for emerging artists.

Featuring works in progress by young creatives, this exhibition has been curated by young people from open call submissions and mentored by professional artists. Furthermore this is an opportunity for emerging creatives to test out new material in front of a supportive audience.

Light the Blue Festival 2022 | Zoe Graham

Continuing the Light The Blue festivities, the SC&T Youth Concert is taking place at the Lemon Tree on Friday night. Young folk musicians from around North East Scotland will perform together with some of the country's best musicians to showcase group and solo performances.

Light the Blue | Saturday

An array of free workshops will be offered on Saturday, including workshops on making audio performances and devising performance materials. In addition, Ten Feet Tall Theatre and Aberdeen Jazz Festival will provide insights behind the scenes. While Belmont Filmhouse will host a film screening.

On Saturday, the city's latest up-and-coming musicians will perform at the Bon Accord Roof Garden for a free concert. Learn how to collect and share happiness with The Happiness Collectors, an interactive journey of silliness and sound. Fuse events continue at the Lemon Tree with performances from Aberdeen Performing Arts Junior and Intermediate Youth Theatre, City Moves Dance, Castlegate Youth Theatre, and Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre.

Light the Blue Festival 2022 | Evan Duthie

Light the Blue will present a show with a theme of 'Light the Way'. It will include outdoor pop-ups and cabaret performances hosted by drag star Jordy Delight. Performers will include spoken word, drag, theatre, and music artists. Amongst them will be activist/performance artists Ink Asher Hemp & Mal Fraser, and local singer-songwriter AiiTee. Light the Blue 2022 will conclude with DJ Evan Duthie's under 18s Club Night at the Lemon Tree.

Most events across the programme are completely free, with donation options for selected events. Light The Blue Festival Producer Jordan Blackwood said: “Whether you are taking part in Light the Blue or coming along as a member of the audience, it is a fantastic way to support youth arts in the region. The festival has a fresh and exciting feel, developing new talent in a professional way while allowing young people that hint of rebellion that they deserve.

Events Calendar

Check out Light the Blue Festival on Aberdeen Events

Find more events and activities in the Aberdeen Events Calendar

The Gig: Connor Clark and the Matador Kings

Connor Clark and the Matador Kings headline a fantastic night of Aberdeen talent at Drummonds. Kimbo was there.

Drummonds 20th May 2022 

I had first heard Connor Clark and the Matador Kings when they supported The Rahs in October 2021. I could tell then that this was a band that was right up my street. So knowing they had a headline of their own back at Drummonds, I was quick to purchase a ticket 🎟 

To kick the evening off, they had support in the form of one half of Aberdeen band She's Taken. Sadly they were a few members short due to illness. But stepping up for the band James Emslie and James Croft took to the stage. What they lacked in band members, they made up for in humour,  joking we could call them "He's Available" then confessing that one of them with guitar in hand was actually the drummer!

She's Taken

They still pulled off a set smiling at one another the whole way through it and finding their groove as they went. James Emslie struck me as having a powerful vocal and they harmonised well while sipping their Red Stripe but giving me a blues rocky vibe . The tracks they played were an eclectic mix. I would be interested to hear them as a full band. Even with two of them on the stage there was some serious jamming going on. They seemed to enjoy their time on stage with lots of laughs and banter with us all. They definitely deserve more listeners on their Spotify and I would look out for them again.

Marc Culley

Next up was another local North East lad Marc Culley. I've listened to Marc over the years but hadn't heard him live in a while. I'm so used to hearing his tracks blaring through the speakers at Pittodrie so it was a treat to hear this set as so stripped back. Just him, his guitar and his ability to sing so well through the pain that he mentioned to me his wisdom teeth were causing him!

Marc Culley

Hearing his own track Outta My Mind straight away draws you into Marc's smooth vocals and immediately you hear the Gallagher/Ashcroft influences. He was confident on stage and did a blinding version of Bittersweet Symphony after having also thrown in Stereophonics' Maybe Tomorrow which showed off a rasp to his voice that you need to pull that tune off. I particularly enjoyed how he worked James' Tomorrow into the end of another of his own tracks See Feel Love. This is another act I would love to hear with a full band behind him. 

Connor Clark and the Matador Kings

Then the volume went up to 100 when Connor Clark and the Matador Kings took to the stage encouraging us to "Come on down that's mare like it" and created a wave of fans ready for a bounce down the front of Drummonds and opened up with their powerful 2021 hit Can you Feel it… yes yes we can. 

It didn't take long to realise this set was going to be all levels of rock n roll and all the lads were buzzing to be on stage. I didn't realise until Connor said later that Fergus Clifton, Lead Guitarist was having his first gig experience on stage with them, you wouldn't have known, they were blasting through the tracks accompanied by Craig on bass smashing it while Euan, drummer threw out some phenomenal beats from the back of the stage.

Connor Clark and the Matador Kings

Highlights for me from the Aberdeen rockers included, Once a Pretty Liar, no idea how Connor can play the guitar so well and concentrate on that while all those lyrics flowed out of him so quickly through that track but he did it with ease and had the whole crowd involved.

Their indie inspired catchy tunes and the beat to the intro of Echoes and Patience sounded absolute fire and after a belting cover of I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, their most recent single Bitterness is Empty which I've had on repeat for weeks was another level live, they had it down to a fine art and they do it all again at Broadcast Glasgow on the 27th May, if you want a large slice of rock n roll to add to your weekend, go see them! 

Kimbo 💜🎧

Rise Up! celebrates black and POC creatives 

Rise Up! is a brand new event coming to Aberdeen this month. The weekend will highlight and amplify the voices of black and POC creatives from Aberdeen and throughout Scotland.

We Are Here Scotland has partnered with Aberdeen Performing Arts to curate the event. Performances, talks, workshops, and community spaces are all part of the festival, which runs from 13-14 May.

Here are some of the many exciting acts set to perform over the weekend's packed line-up.

Ica Headlam

We Are Here Scotland Director Ica Headlam told us: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts on Rise Up! We feel that it is a very important and unique opportunity to spotlight a variety of Black and PoC artists and performers from the North East of Scotland and further afield. With a variety of performances, free panels, and workshops, we hope these events bring new and diverse engagement for Aberdeen’s creative community.”

Friday 13

In Our Own Words is an evening of performance by artists of colour, exploring and celebrating themes of identity, culture and a sense of place in Scotland.

Poetry at Noon is a spoken word artist and poet who believes that art is an extremely powerful tool for personal and social transformation. In her performance poetry, she analyzes and discusses experiences of trauma, political upheaval, migration, and motherhood that she experienced while growing up in Sudan.

Aiysha is a singer-songwriter from Aberdeen. Many will remember her powerful performance at the Black Lives Matter Aberdeen protest in 2020. She also featured in a BBC documentary highlighting Aberdeen's RnB and Hip Hop scene. Aiysha is set to release her debut release as an artist later this year.


Saturday 14

Known as a songwriter and sound smith, Kapil Seshasayee is both a polymath and a true original. Combining the influences of Scott Walker, Blood Orange, Arca, and Richard Dawson into a singular sound.

Rapper Chef has made waves not only because of his music career but also due to his contribution to the community. An ingrained part of his character is his desire to amplify the voices of those around him. He joins Danny Cliff on a lineup which also includes Glasgow based rapper Clarissa Woods and DJ and visual artist DIJA.

One Mississippi takes place at the Lemon Tree at 7 pm. Described as a hard-hitting play that explores how the impact of childhood experiences shapes men’s adult lives, One Mississippi blends humour and storytelling with powerful elements of physical theatre to create an uncompromising insight into what takes us to breaking point.

Danielle Jam

Focusing on Black and POC voices

The weekend will also feature a number of discussions focusing on the issue that black and POC creatives face in our white-dominated creative industries. A series of free talks and workshops taking place at the Music Hall Big Sky Studio on Saturday 14 May cover topics including representation within Scottish creative industries, climate narratives, knowing your worth, and culture and identity as an artistic influence among others.

Ica Headlam and Briana Pegado from We Are Here Scotland will host a talk about how Black and POC need to take the initiative to support their communities by building support structures and community organisations. While Tomiwa Folorunso will host a talk about how there needs to be a change in a predominantly white-dominated industry.

Rachel Thibbotumunuwe, learning manager at Aberdeen Archives, Art Gallery and Museums will discuss how North East Scotland can support Black and POC creatives and artists. There will also be a panel exploring the importance of representation in the industry, hosted by podcast producer Halina Rifai

And much more besides

This is just a small taste of what is on offer at Rise Up! See the Aberdeen Performing Art website for details on all the speakers and performers. Tickets are also available from APA.

Events Calendar

Check out RISE UP on Aberdeen Events

Find more events and activities in the Aberdeen Events Calendar

Aberdeen Performing Arts head Ben Torrie said: “Providing a stage for emerging talent and creating space for all voices to be heard is so important for a thriving artistic environment. Rise Up! is a hugely significant addition to Aberdeen’s cultural calendar this year. The sheer breadth of talent from the artists taking part is incredible. This festival is a fantastic opportunity to discover more about the diverse range of creatives here in the North East and beyond.