George Machray Returns to Nitten Folk Club

After a summer lay-off our guest night season recommenced on Thursday with the welcome return of our old friend George Machray.  Although he’s a frequent visitor to the singaround sessions (and actually won the songwriters prize for best humorous song earlier this year) it’s been six years since he last graced the Nitten stage. On that occasion he shared the bill with the legendary Adam McNaughtan but tonight belonged to George alone.

George is a wonderfully engaging character;  hailing from the old fishing and mining village of Port Seton in East Lothian, he writes about what he knows about- the people and places found along the Firth of Forth coastline. Their themes meander from the humorous to the serious, from the ridiculous to the romantic.  After the customary floor spots from regular sound man Ronnie Miller and the irrepressible Paul Ashcroft, George kicked proceedings off with a rattling cover of Callum Armstrong’s ‘Jingling Geordie’, quickly followed by a wry tribute to our very own Charlie and Ian, who have famously covered many of George’s songs. A sly poke at those Folk Fiddlers who have a habit of playing extended ‘sets’ is up next.  The tender ‘Lithgae Rose’ followed, then the Baron Munchausen inspired adventures of the legendary ‘Buckie Doddie’  kept the smiles coming.

Next up was the powerful ballad ‘Alponagh’ (apologies to any Gaelic speakers for the spelling) about the Highland Clearances. Not all of George’s songs are designed to make you laugh and this was definitely a moving highlight of the show.  Another ‘serious’ song ‘Whatever Happened to Elizabeth Steel’ was next – a tale of a relationship gone awry.

The first set closed with a tribute to George’s old school friend Davy Steele called ‘Sing Me a Song Ronay’ then it was time for a wee break – plus the inevitable raffle, and congratulati9ons to the lucky winners.


After floor spots from Gillian Anderson and Janis Duncan the second set kicked off with ‘The Learie, Jeannie McGeary’, a tribute to the lamplighters of the 1950’s,  and from then on it was plain sailing as George treated us to a fabulous portfolio of beautifully crafted songs – some serious and some, of course, hysterically funny. He was joined on-stage by Charlie Boyle and Ian Duncan for the final song – Would You Like to Live in Dunbar’?  This song has become something of an anthem at Nitten and although it not exactly PC it never fails to raise a smile.  Many thanks, George for a fabulous evening – we’ll see you again soon – hopefully we won’t have to wait another six years before we do.

Thanks must go to Rab and Lena, for managing the ticket desk and selling the raffle tickets, and to Ian and Janis Duncan for conducting the raffle. Next month we welcome back the wonderful Kenny Spiers; a legend of the Folk scene. His songs and voice resonate from the Scottish Borders and beyond across the folk music world. A genuine master of his craft. Don’t miss him.