Lesley Hale Charity Concert 2023

Saturday saw the annual Lesley Hale Charity Concert take place at the Dean Tavern, and it was, as always, a resounding success. A capacity crowd were treated to a fabulous evening of entertainment from a fantastic ensemble of musicians. All the performers are club members and the talent we have on tap never ceases to amaze.

The evening was tinged with sadness as we learned that one of our longest serving members, Duncan Sutherland, had passed away suddenly that morning.  He was a delightful man, with a lovely gentle manner and was a veritable storehouse of knowledge on folk songs and traditions. He will be greatly missed by all at Nitten Folk Club and at the many other folk clubs and societies he regularly attended.

Jim Weatherston began the evening with a moving speech about the concert’s namesake, the great Lesley Hale who was, herself, a member of the club until her death in 2009. He then spoke of fond memories of another former member, Ian Young, who sadly passed away earlier this year, following a long battle with cancer. Jim and Ian were very close friends and regularly performed together in various bands, such as ‘Fairmile’ and the inimitable ‘Hot Club du Nitten’. Ian’s wife, Ann, was present at the concert marking her first visit to the club since Ian’s death and she greatly appreciated the obvious love and respect in which Ian was held by Nitten Folk Club and its members. The charity benefitting from this year’s concert is the Marie Curie centre, who did such wonderful work in looking after Ian in his final few months.

The irrepressible Paul Ashcroft kicked off the music with a rousing, energetic selection of well known folk classics, with ‘Twa Recruitin’ Sergeants’ getting things moving.  Next up was Gillian Anderson, accompanied, as ever, with Ronnie Miller on guitar. A sprightly performance of the Bitter Withy classic ‘Leavin’ was followed by a powerful Reg Meuross balled ’12 Silk Handkerchiefs’. Closing the first half we welcomed ‘Three’s a Crowd’ featuring Tom and Jane Fairnie, joined by their good friend Paul Brown on banjo and vocals. They gave us an excellent selection of Tom’s superb original songs. We were treated to beautiful three part harmonies and Paul’s excellent (and in-tune) banjo playing.

During the break we were treated to generous portions of delicious stovies, served up by Gillian and Rab Ballantine. The food was once again provided by Darren, the manager of The Dean and, as always, went down a treat.  This was followed by the inevitable raffle. Nitten Folk Club raffles are legendary and a fabulous array of gifts were there to be won, including a mega bundle of bottles of booze for one lucky winner. All the prizes were donated by members and friends of the club and the money raised was included in the total cash raised for the chosen charity.


With everyone fed and refreshed the entertainment resumed with Ronnie and Jim – the incomparable ‘Nittles’, who treated us to a selection of classic songs from a certain Liverpudlian quartet who were ‘quite big’ in the 1960’s. Ronnie strapped on his Stratocaster to add a bit of electric guitar to ‘I Need You’, ‘It’s Only Love’ and ‘Nowhere Man’.  Who needs a ‘Fab Four’ when we have as ‘Terrific Two’?   ‘The Golden Girls’, Janis Duncan and May Weatherston, were up next. They were accompanied by their respective spouses (should that be ‘spice boys?) Ian and Jim, christened the ‘Copper Bottomed Boys’ for the evening. They gave us a fine selection of well known songs and had the audience sing along with gusto (not for the first – or the last time during the evening).


The fabulous ‘Hoolet’ had been scheduled to play but, owing to family commitments, Maggie and Helen were unable to be with us so Ronnie performed a solo slot – his first solo performance at the Charity Concert for many years, and he didn’t disappoint (as if he ever would). A tender rendition of Violet Jacob’s ‘Baltic Street’ was followed by ‘Ma Crepe Suzette’ a hysterical demonstration of unintelligible French. He closed off an excellent (and all too brief) set with another ‘folk’ classic – written by those doyens of the folk scene; Noel Coward and Joyce Grenfell – ‘That is the End of the News’.  There’s certainly no shortage of variety at Nitten Folk Club.

Ian and Charlie – billed now as ‘Over the Hill Folk’ took the stage next and gave as another grand singalong set. Ian had intended to give us ‘The Kelty Clippie’ but was beaten to the punch earlier by Paul – that’s showbiz, Ian. Never mind – they had plenty of great singalong songs to keep the audience entertained and a rousing performance of George Machray’s ‘Dunbar’ closed a terrific set from two of the clubs most respected members.


The last act up was the five-piece ‘Nitten Road Show’ featuring Jim  & May, Ian  & Janis and Charlie- what a shame Shirley doesn’t sing; we could have made it six. A grand selection of singalongs, including a ‘wave-along’ performance of Adam McNaughtan’s ‘Inveroran’ has the audience enthusiastically  ‘jining in’ till the very end.  To close the evening the entire cast gathered to sing ‘Rolling Home’ with the entire audience singing along at the tops of their voices. A wonderful way to end another incredible charity concert at Nitten Folk Club.

Thanks must go to Ronnie who, as usual, provided the PA system and did a great job of managing the sound for all the performers.  We must also thank Rab and Lena Ballantine for managing the ticket desk and selling an amazing number of raffle tickets. Ian and Janis Duncan handled the drawing of the raffle while Gillian and Robert Mackie acted as ‘runners’ dishing out the prizes to the lucky winners.  A huge thanks goes to the staff of the Dean Tavern, who kept the drinks flowing and also provided the delicious filling food during the break. Thanks also to Jane Fairnie and Paul Ashcroft for the photographs.

Finally a huge thank you to all the performers, who generously donated their time, energy and talent to turning the evening into the resounding success it was, and to the members and visitors who joined us and contributed so generously. In the end over £1,300 was raised for the Marie Curie centre and this will enable them to continue to provide the wonderful work they do to serve the community.

See you next year!!!!  The Committee.