It hardly seems like 12 months since we were heading off to Stanley to prepare for our first year in charge of The Stanley Ceilidh, but here we were again. Once again Shirley and I were a little apprehensive with regard to the number of players and enthusiast who would appear over the weekend. We arrived at the Tayside Hotel mid afternoon on Friday 4th November to arrange the tables and chairs and set up the PA System. Scott & Susan Gordon and Graham Berry arrived shortly afterwards to lend a hand to ensure the function suite was ready for the Ceilidh to start at 7.30pm .
We needn't have worried about the level of support that was given over the weekend. Enthusiasts began arriving well before the advertised starting time and by 7.30pm nearly all seats were taken. Many familiar faces had made the journey from as far afield as Shetland , Northern Ireland , the Borders and England .
My own band took to the stage to get the proceedings underway, but prior to this we unveiled the new Stanley Ceilidh Music Stand which graced the stage all weekend. The stand was donated by my Dad, James Cathcart, who had kindly offered to make one especially for the Ceilidh. Thanks Dad.
Some 6 hours later we unfortunately had to bring the evening to a close with one set from James Coutts and his band of merry men. We were well past our agreed finishing time of 1am by this time, so James kindly agreed to finish the evening with 1 set.
As usual we undertook a collection for charity and a raffle during the Friday night. Thanks are due to all who donated in any way whether as a cash donation or the many raffle prizes which we received. In particular, Mark MacDougall & Carol Dobson and Dave & Lil Millward are great supporters of the Ceilidh and once again they went out of their way to present us with 2 large hampers full of goodies to be given away as the grand prizes in both Friday & Saturday night's draws. On a lighter note, the raffle is becoming more of a fun element of the weekend with the variety of more and more zany prizes which anonymous individuals handed in. There were a few puzzled looks from raffle winners when presented with items such as old Calum Kennedy LPs and the like. There's a challenge for next year : Who can donate the most ridiculous prize for the raffle!!??
The irrepressible Scott Nicholl
The task of MC which I had on Friday evening was made so much easier with the assistance of my wife Shirley who organised all the artistes and prepared the running order. This is quite a task considering the volume of players who arrived at various stages of the evening. Trying to get as many as possible up for a tune is no easy business. Thanks Shirley. We had to be on our toes to ensure the smooth running of the evening and Marie Fielding was a "great" help by making Shirley and I a couple of cardboard walkie-talkies to assist our communication. Unfortunately they came without batteries, so were no help whatsoever!! Due to the sheer number of players who turned up, unfortunately 2 or 3 had to step down, so a big thanks to those concerned for that.
On the Friday evening, in order of appearance, we had bands lead by Iain Cathcart, James Corbett, Seamus O'Sullivan, George Hood, Shirley Cathcart , Neil Galloway, Hamish MacDougall, Sandy Legget, Scott Gordon, Jim Berry, Ian Hutson, Lindsay Weir, Scott Nicholl, Bill Black, Alex Morrison, Robin Hamilton, Lynne Christie, Tom Orr, Iain Anderson, Colin Garvin, Neil Dawson, Colin Donaldson and finally James Coutts. We were also entertained with a few tunes from Marie & Owen Fielding on fiddle and piano. Supporting players were Brian O'Sullivan, Bruce Quirie, Gary Mair, Stuart Adamson, Mark MacDougall, Andrew Knight, Mable Gray, George Darling, Duncan [Inspector Clouseau] Christie, Ian Adamson, Graham Berry , George Gray, Ian Imrie, Ann Law and Karen McGillvray. Only a couple of hiccups along the way, but they were swiftly dealt without too much fuss. Many people commented as to the high standard of musicianship and just how willing everyone is to have a tune with anyone who asked. Apologies if I missed anyone from the list.
It was pleasing to have Bill Black and his band supporting the Friday night, given that they were to provide the excellent music for the Saturday night dance. A feature of the Ceilidh to date is the support that the "Booked" Band give to the whole weekend ie they don't just appear for the Saturday night dance. It is a nice gesture that I am keen to see continue and hopefully future bands who are booked for the dance will come along and support the entire weekend, just as Craig McCallum last year and Bill this year have done.
The Saturday afternoon session commenced at 12 noon with the usual format in place. This part of the weekend is fast becoming for me, the most enjoyable part of the weekend as it is totally informal and the numbers are increasing every year. Many of the musicians who entertained on Friday evening returned for more tunes, which is most appreciated by all involved. We are keen to encourage more players and enthusiasts to come along to enjoy the session on the Saturday, and we have benefited in this way by selling the Saturday night dance tickets from 1pm with a maximum of 4 tickets per person. This has brought many more people through the doors and once they are in the majority stay for the afternoon. Next year we hope that the hotel will offer bar meals instead of the limited snack menu which was available, so why not come along, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the entertainment.
The music on Saturday afternoon commenced with solo fiddle playing by the fantastic Marie Fielding who was soon accompanied on piano by Colin Garvin. Most of the above named players entertained during the afternoon and we were also treated to some great tunes and arrangements from Susan & Scott Gordon on fiddle and piano respectively. The afternoon's session was taken to a conclusion around 5pm with some fine selections from Nicol McLaren who once again joined us for a tune.
Just a couple of hours later, we were back at the hotel ready to enjoy and dance to the tremendous music provided by Bill Black and his band. Bill brought with him a top-notch line-up with band members old and new. Bill's five piece band comprised of Mable Gray and George Darling providing the rhythm section, with the front line being completed by 2 members of the band from a couple of years back. Namely Judi Nicolson on fiddle and Neil Caul on 2 nd Box.
What a sound they produced between them. Many dancers and listeners commented on the excellent music and tempos and I can only echo these sentiments, great stuff. The band really were on top form and kept the dancers on their toes from start (which was some 10 minutes before the advertised time) to finish which turned out to be well after midnight .
Only a short break for the raffle and an interval interrupted the evening's dancing and again a big thanks to all who contributed in any way.
Survivors' Sunday, as it is now known, is for the hard core enthusiast, and is a gentle glide back to earth for anyone who has the stamina left to come along for a farewell tune before setting off for home. We had a few visits from players who had been unable to manage during the rest of the weekend, in particular Gary Sutherland, who was recently crowned Scottish Accordion Champion at Perth . Gary was joined by his brother Alan on drums, and he also accompanied one or two of the artists. As with the Saturday afternoon, numbers were up on last year so it was approaching 5pm before we started packing up and heading home.
Another successful Stanley Ceilidh was finished and once the proceeds had been counted we banked £1,545.
The money has been donated to what we all consider to be a worthwhile charity - CHAS, who are most grateful for everyone's generosity.
My personal thanks go to all of the team who helped ensure the success of this year's event, namely Shirley Cathcart , Scott & Susan Gordon, Dave & Lil Millward & Lynne Christie. A big thank you must also go to Graham Berry who put in a power of work over the weekend and was always around to lend a hand. Thanks also go to Graham and Scott for the help with the sound system. Alan and all the staff at the Tayside also played a big part in weekend's activities, it's great to have struck up such a good relationship with our hosts.
We may have to re-think the issue of tickets for next year's dance due to the anticipated demand as we have managed to secure the services of none other than the Cullivoe Band from Shetland. Ivor Scollay and the boys hope to make the long journey South in time to be with us for the Friday night next year, which we really appreciate. The dates for your diary are Friday 3 rd to Sunday 5 th November 2006 . I believe the Tayside Hotel still have a few rooms available for the weekend, they can be reached on 01738 828249.
Hope to see many of you there, if not before. Should any reader require any further information on this year's Ceilidh, please give Shirley or myself a call on 01555 771021.
On another note, we have some excellent professional recordings of some of Friday night's bands and are currently considering the release of a commercial recording with profits going to CHAS. Prior to this project getting off the ground we would require the consent of the artistes involved. Watch this space.
A few photograps from the 2005 Stanley Ceilidh:
Graham Berry, Colin Garvin, Lindsay Weir & Alex Morrison
Regaular supporters of the Ceilidh from Shetland, Jarl George & Eileen Hunter (of Gillaburn)
Iain Cathcart and his band...
Ian Hutson & Tom Orr's 'Magic' Ears
Tripping the light ....fantastic???
Neil Dawson and friends
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