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The 14th Haal Festival – Fri 31st May – Sun 2nd June

Bothy Folk Haal Festival Programme 

Folk at the Salmon Bothy have compiled a plentiful programme of concerts, sessions, workshops and sing-arounds, which will showcase traditional music, song, dance, stories and more. Taking place in Portsoy from 31 May to 2 June, the Haal festival offers lots of opportunities for both participation and spectating. 

The main Friday evening concert features internationally renowned Cloughmor Ceili Band. The band has a wealth of champions among them, and has toured extensively across Europe. They will have toes tapping with their lively tunes at the concert, and will also provide the music and guidance at a ceilidh dance workshop on Saturday afternoon. 

Also on the Friday night line up are veteran Scottish traditional singers Arthur Watson and Chris Miles, as well as young award-winning Aberdeenshire fiddler George Davidson, and Irish guitar maestro Gearaidh Matthews, who will also leading a workshop on Saturday afternoon. 

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On Saturday, two of the biggest names in British folk music will perform, Allan Taylor and Jacqui Mcshee.  Allan Taylor is a wonderful songwriter who paints pictures through words, accompanied by his sublime guitar playing. Many of his songs such as Good To See You, The Beat Hotel and Traveller, have been covered by many performers and translated into multiple languages.

Jacqui Mcshee’s Pentangle is a reincarnation of the 1960s groundbreaking group which included world class musicians such as Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, playing a mix of trad folk with a hint of jazz. The current band is equally high in class, and includes percussion, double base, keyboard and sax, which beautifully complements Jacqui’s rich voice.

New this year is the Haal fringe, including acts such as Fil Campbell and Tom McFarland from Belleek, Bob Sharp, Alyson and Neil MacConnachie, Moonshine Madness, Dick and Maggie Trickey, The Sir-Reel Clarks, SC&T Youth, and Beyond Boyndie. They will busk and perform sets across various venues in the town free of charge, with thanks to support from the event’s generous sponsors, including Hydrasun, Kenway Tyres and Hamlyns of Scotland. 

For those who enjoy bothy ballads, a celebration of the life and songs of the late Jock Duncan will be held on Sunday at Portsoy Church Centre. Many champion bothy balladeers will sing songs strongly associated with Jock, while folklorist Pete Shepheard will also give a short talk on his recently published book about the renowned Scottish singer.

Bob Philips, chairman of Folk at the Salmon Bothy, commented, “Excitement is really building for us now as the Haal nears.  We have a confirmed full programme of music, song, dance, stories and more, which showcases the vast talent across the traditional folk scene, both from the UK and beyond.  The festival promises lots of opportunities to join in and participate, as well as the chance to sit back and enjoy the entertainment on offer.  Demand has been high for the ticketed events, so we would encourage visitors to book in advance to avoid disappointment.” 

Remaining tickets are available from Bob Philips, on 07968 872 217 or

Further information on all Folk at the Salmon Bothy events is available at or on the Folk at the Salmon Bothy Facebook page.  

14th Haal – 31st May – 2nd June

Not long to wait now for the 14th Haal Festival – 31st May – 2nd June 2024

Allan Taylor

Jaqui McShee’s Pentangle

Warrenpoint Comhaltas
Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland

Chris MilesBob Sharp
Arthur WatsonMoonshine Madness
George DavidsonPaul Ratke
SC&T YouthSir Reel Clarks
Mike BlackburnScott Gardiner
Maggie & Dick Trickie

Singer Kenny Speirs Enthralls Audience In Portsoy

Singer Kenny Speirs Enthralls Audience In Portsoy

Folk at the Salmon Bothy members and guests recently enjoyed one of the best attended Open Mic Sessions for many months.

Borders based singer songwriter Kenny Speirs enthralled the audience with performances of his own sensitively and well crafted songs, as well as many popular covers from the pens of Andy M Stewart, Rabbie Burns and more. 

Kenny was supported by fourteen sets from floor singers, musicians and storytellers. The appreciative audience enjoyed sea shanties, the history of Fyvie Castle, and a variety of unaccompanied Scottish and English traditional songs.

Tributes were paid throughout the evening to the late great Joe Aitken, who sadly died recently.  Seven times Bothy Ballads Champion of Champions, and dedicated family and community man, Joe was remembered fondly by many who knew him.

Organiser Bob Philips, MC for the evening, opened and closed the session with tributes to Joe. During the evening, John Mather recited a poem by Sheena Blackwall about Joe, while Doug Hay, Bill Gray and John Dickson sang some of Joe’s well known songs, including The Hearst o’ Retie, The Twa Gadgies and The Yellow’ on the Broom. The audience joined in enthusiastically.

The next Open Mic Session takes place on Friday 17 May at Portsoy Salmon Bothy, where the full session will be dedicated to performers keen to take the floor. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start.  Admission is £5, and guests may bring their own bottle.  

Folk at the Bothy’s annual general meeting will take place at 7pm at the Station Hotel on Tuesday 21 May, all welcome.

The Club is also looking ahead to the 14th Haal which takes place in Portsoy from 31 May to 2 June.  Tickets are on sale now, and the full programme can be found in businesses locally, or online.

Kenny Speirs – Friday 19th April

Salmon Bothy, Portsoy.  Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start. 
Admission is £5, and guests may bring their own bottle.  

Kenny Speirs, a well-known figure on the national and international folk circuit, will perform an extended set as part of Folk at the Salmon Bothy’s Open Mic Session on Friday 19 April.
Performing initially with the John Wright Band in the early nineties, Kenny was propelled from the pubs and clubs of his local area in the Scottish Borders to some of the biggest festival stages throughout the UK and Europe.

Releasing seven albums with the John Wright Band after turning professional in 1995 earned him as a sensitive guitarist, singer and arranger.  A further two solo album releases gained further wide critical acclaim.

In 2001 Kenny formed Real Time with his partner Judy Dinning. For the next 12 years they toured extensively throughout the UK and Europe, until Judy’s untimely death in 2013.

The band continued without her until 2019, by which time Kenny had decided to concentrate on writing his own material and pursue a solo career, releasing two self-penned albums ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘New Dawn Breaking’.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming Kenny back to Portsoy.  A highly acclaimed singer/songwriter, Kenny has performed for us in the past, and has been very well received by local audiences thanks to his interesting song repertoire and laid back style.  His extended sets will complement performances from regular club members and guests who will also take to the stage on the night. 
A warm welcome awaits all who wish to join us.”

Enquiries and ticket requests to Bob Philips at, or by telephone, 07968 872 217.

14th Haal – 31st May – 2nd June

The programme is out for the 14th Haal Festival – 31st May – 2nd June 2024

Allan Taylor

Jaqui McShee’s Pentangle

Warrenpoint Comhaltas
Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland

Chris MilesBob Sharp
Arthur WatsonMoonshine Madness
George DavidsonPaul Ratke
SC&T YouthSir Reel Clarks
Mike BlackburnScott Gardiner
Maggie & Dick Trickie

Dates for your Diary. 

Coming up at Folk at the Salmon Bothy

  • Friday, 17th Nov – Regular Open Mic – in Bothy. Doors open 1900.
  • Friday 15th Dec. – Christmas Extravaganza. With punch and nibbles
  • 1st January. 2024 – New year session in Bowling Club. Bring friends an nibbles to share, plus a raffle prize.
  • 19th Jan and 16th Feb – regular open mic nights.
  • Sat 17th Feb – Bothy Ballads and Burns Night. 3 course meal. dram. Chaired by Tom Dymmock and songs from CHORAS and floor singers. All for £25. Bookings now being taken.

Keep safe and well.
Hope to see you all soon.

13th Haal – Saturday Night – Karine Polwart and Sileas

13th Haal – Saturday Night – Karin Polwart and Sileas

Only a few tickets left for our Saturday night concert featuring Patsy Seddon and Mary Macmaster (Sileas) and the wonderful Karine Polwart.


SILEAS, The harp duo of Patsy Seddon and Mary Macmaster adopted the name of a late 17th century female Gaelic bard, Sìleas na Ceapaich – Sileas MacDonald of Keppoch – and exploited the contrasting timbres of gut and wire-strung harps as well as the newly developed electroharp to bring Scottish harp music and Gaelic and Scots song to an ever-widening contemporary audience.

Sileas were one of the first groups to make the harp cool! The combined harp talents of Patsy Seddon and Mary MacMaster together with their vocal harmonies create an exciting new view of what the harp can do. Using both wire strung and gut strung harps gives dimension to their playing. Their album Beating Harps has been described as “virtuosic” and “unusual rhythmic and harmonic intricacy”.

KARINE POLWART is a multi-award-winning Scottish songwriter, folk singer, and storyteller. Her songs evoke a richness of place, hidden histories, scientific curiosity and folklore. Trees and rocks speak. Birds flit in and out of vision. And the stars know everything. She conjures the beauty and magic, the sorrow and complexity of the world out of the corner of her eye, with lyricism and tenderness. 

Tickets £25 from

13th Haal – Friday Night – The Sands Family

Just a few tickets left for this fantastic Friday night concert featuring The Sands Family from Rostrevor, Co Down.
We invite you to take a stroll down the Ryan Road with one of Ireland’s most respected and admired folk bands.

Anne, Ben, Colum and Tommy have won international acclaim with their clever mix of traditional Irish music and song coupled with their own thought- provoking compositions reflecting the rich cultural heritage of their home county, An Dun. Renowned as performers, writers and presenters they have remained at the centre of Ulster folk music for a generation and show no evidence of running out of inspiration, enthusiasm or energy.

Ireland’s First Family of Folk have the gift of making their audience feel immediately home as they weave stories and jokes seamlessly into the fabric of their performance. Book early and avoid disappointment.

Support by Nathalie Chalmers, Danny Couper, Charlie Abel, Aaron and Andy Clark

13th HAAL 2nd – 4th June 2023

13th HAAL Festival 2nd – 4th June 2023

A whole weekend of concerts, workshops, sessions, story telling, and performances in and around the village of Portsoy

Friday 2nd June – Jimmy McBeath Memorial Concert with Nathalie Chalmers, Danny Couper, Charlie Abel, Aaron and Andy Clark. The fantastic Sands Family from Co Down will headline the concert. Tickets £25

Saturday 3rd June – Main concert – Patsy Sneddon and Mary MacMaster – Sileas. Headline artist Karine Polwart. Tickets £25

Sunday 4th June – Grand farewell concert featuring members of Folk at the Salmon Bothy and guests. Tickets £10

Here’s the programme for the 13th Haal Festival

Kenny Spiers – Sat 10th September

Kenny Spiers – Sat 10th September

Kenny Speirs is one of the leading figures of the Borders folk scene, from his early days reforming Peebles Folk Club and presenting the weekly folk programme on Radio Borders to the founding of Denholm Folk Club in 1993 which he still runs today.

An evening of fine songs not to be missed. 

Salmon Bothy, Sat 8th Sept.,
Doors 7.30pm £10.

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