Wednesday 26 January 2022

FOLK music & Sandy Bells

The extended gatherings of those who celebrate live traditional music – that warm special folk magic –with its

musical intimacy, the surprise of unexpected collaborations, the joy of a larger collective all appreciating musical traditions  and heritage, the bringing together of all ages, all walks of life, and from all corners of the globe, the appreciation of the common language and connections and the intense joy live music brings us. 


Music is our first and last memory and is in inherently, deeply instinctive.

Abiding memories. The release and hopes. Live folk music makes me see warm wood and golden glows. With the range and quality of the artists.


I first came across live folk music, in my early twenties, in the folk clubs of Edinburgh and at Sandy Bells bar. I’ll never forget that experience and the impact of live traditional instruments and the poignant, expression of  a live ballad singer. Up to then I had enjoyed playing piano and listening to recorded cassettes – the Beatles, the Stones, Joni Mitchell to Bob Dylan and Mozart!. But the live traditional music was on a different level altogether with the impact of its vibrant immediacy, its heart and soul.

And for anyone who thinks folk music is our-dated or dull - there are many top names in music today who began with the folk song - Gerry Rafferty, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Proclaimers, Laura Marling, Neil Young, Eagles and many many more.

The melody and song is the heart.


I sincerely hope the live traditions will live on for many reasons. The folk song has so many deeper meanings an depth, tell stories across the divides. 

Julie Fowlis

Edinburgh is now full of international students. In fact I read that both St Andrews and Edinburgh universities are only 30% are now scots. And with Air B&Bs and globalization and tourism, it is crucial Scotland’s rich musical heritage can survive.


This is a reason people today are fighting for their sense of identity. A fight between individuality, independence, diversity, uniqueness, - and the mono-culture of blandness of global culture? Who wants a MacDonald’s on every street corner? I want to visit Italy for its art, it special and unique stories. 

Sandy Bells Bar Edinburgh
**Sandy Bells bar on Forrest road. Back in the 60s folklorists Hamish Henderson and Margaret Bennet used to attend the bar. Many musicians have been inspired by playing at Sandy Bells. 

**MY PHOTOS include fiddle player Alasdair White at Sandy Bells. 

Celtic Connection folk and roots festival hosts live Sessions at the Festival club and at the Late night sessions (although not in 2022 due to the Covid restrictions)