The Banff and Buchan Collection

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Tape 1994.054 transcription

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[RL Singing] Fareweel ma horse my bonnie pair,
Wi you I'll work and lowse nae mair,
Fareweel ma plough we you this han,
Will turn ower nae mair fresh land.

Bit I've served ma master weel and true,
My well deen work he'll niver rue,
And yet ??? I might hae striven,
To reach the pearly gates o heavin.

Tis well ma maker knows my name,
Will he gie me a welcome hame,
As I should help in need afford,
Receive me in thy mercy Lord.

[RL] Knowing the story, that's right, makes it that wee bittie more hauntin, especially if your standing down at Bonnyton Hill, cause it's a cold, cold place that stands right up to the North Sea and the wind had been there I suppose, speaks aboot the wind.

[TM] Exactly where is that?

[RL] It's on the Banff/Fraserburgh road, just outside New Aberdour, towards Fraserburgh, about a mile down the road on the left hand side, you see Bonnyton Hill Farm. The house has stood empty for the past fifteen-twenty years, again some English folk came up, bought the house [laughs], and they are currently doing it up.

There's a fairmtoon up in Cairnie ,
That's kent both far and wide,
And it's ca'd the Hash o Drumdelgie ,
On bonnie Deveronside.

Noo it's five o'clock that we get up,
And hurry doon the stairs ,
Tae get our horses corned and fed,
Likewise ti straik their hair.

Noo it's half an hour in the stable,
Each tae the kitchie goes,
Tae get started tae our breakfast,
Which generally is brose.

Noo we've scarcely got oor brose well supped,
Then gien wir pints a tie,
When the grieve e says, hello ma lads,
Ye'll be nae langer nigh.

Noo it's six o'clock the mull's put on,
Tae gie us a' stracht work,
En there's twa o us tae work tae her,
Till ye could ring wir sark.

And at eight o'clock the mull's put aff,
And we hurry doon the stair,
Tae get some quarters through the fan,
Till daylight dis appear.

Noo the clouds begin ti gently lift,
The sky begins tae clear,
En the grieve e says hello ma lads,
Ye'll be nae langer here.

For it's six o ye'll gang tae the plough,
And six tae ca the neeps,
And the owsen they'll be efter ye,
Wee straw wrapped round their queets.

Noo pitten on o the harness,
An drawing oot tae yoke
Well the drift dang on so very thick,
That we wis like tae choke.

Aye, the drift dang on so very thick,
The plough she widnae go,
It wis then the cartin did commence,
Among the frost and snow.

Noo Drumdelgie keeps a Sunday school,
He thinks it is bit richt,
For to teach the young and the innocent,
They way for tae dae richt.

So fare ye well, Drumdelgie,
And I'll bid ye adieu,
And I'll leave as I got ye,
That a mast unceevil crew.

[TM] The word of a lee.

[RL] The word o a lee, definitely [laughs].

[TM] So where did you get your version of it that you sing?

[RL] I know him quite well, the guy's name is Frank McNally. I know Frank from going round, it was the version that Frank sang, he sent it down to me a lot o years ago, he has a good voice Frank, I think he took the prizes at Keith this past year. He hidna competed for a lot a years and he said he got the first prize for the Bothy up at Keith Festival. Frank's been a good encouragement over the years as well, used to go out a lot and entertain with Myra Thow who got me singing originally.

[TM] Yes, I've heard about her, but I didn't realise she was still on the go.

[RL] Aye, she's still on the go, in fact it's probably worth, if you like, someday that she's either coming here or it would maybe be best to go into her own house in Aberdeen. I don't know if she would maybe sing for you now, because she was a good singer in her day and her voice has gone quite a bit now, and I think she maybe gets embarrassed, but she's got some great tales to tell.

[TM] Yes, just talking about her life on the road.

[RL] Myra would be into her 80s now, but when I say she's a character, I mean she's a total character. She's hid a concert in the heyday. She knows Hamish, met Hamish when he came up in the 50s. She took around a concert party with her and it's been a great encouragement for the bothy ballads in the North.

[TM] Where and where were you born?

[Audrey Steele:] I was born in Turriff on twenty-second May 1976 and I've stayed at Penelopefield, that's a farm outside Turriff, all my life, I'm eighteen now. I've never really moved away, but I'm going to university next week and I'm going to be staying in Aberdeen all week and coming home at weekends. So that will be a bit of a change.

[TM] And when did you first start playing?

[AS] About six years ago, I played the piano before I started playing the accordion, that was just classical music really, doing the different exams, grades and always fancied playing the accordion. It was my friend from Orkney, he came down and he always played the accordion, I really fancied it but my mum put me to piano lessons for a start to get into the way of it and then when we a found teacher I managed to start the accordion and I've played ever since. I enjoy it, but I still keep up my piano and I'm doing all my Grade 7 this year.

[TM] Do play out and about much?

[AS] We play quite a lot, my brother and I play at concerts by ourselves and along with other musicians, play at old folks homes, fetes, anything really just depending on what people want, but it's been quite hard because we've had quite a lot of school work as well but just go out when we've got spare time. Try to go to things people ask us to do.

[TM] When did you start?

[GS] Like Audrey I started playing the piano first, that was 1988, six years ago and then a year later I started learning the accordion. Like Audrey, I'm doing my grades on the piano and I'm sitting Grade 6 this year, that's just classical pieces, but I think I enjoy the Scottish traditional music better.

[TM] Why is that?

[GS] No particular reason.

[AS] There seems to be more opportunities in this area to go out playing Scottish music than there is classical. There's too many people just play classical, so if you can play Scottish as well there's more openings. It's coming back in, there's more people interested in Scottish music, it used to be Scottish music was going out and discos were coming in again for the young, but it seems to be changing and there's more dances for young people our age, barn dances etc., there're doing much better than they did before.

[TM] So do you play for dances as well?

[AS] Occasionally, it's mainly concerts, but we do sometimes it depends on what people want. We also compete in the Scottish Championships in Perth and different competitions in the area, we've won quite a few trophies as well.

[TM] When did you first start competing?

[AS] About a year after we started playing I think. Start just as a junior and work up.

[TM] I suppose it's a good incentive to learn new tunes.

[GS] It's good experience as well playing in front of people.

[AS] It helps to give you confidence I think because you have to play this set of tunes in front of people and your competing against other competitors, it's not just a case of o you can play.

[GS] You see the standards of other players as well.

[AS] I enjoy doing that as well it makes you practice a lot.

[TM] You've been to Perth, where else have you been?
[AS] Glasgow, Banchory, Keith, Stichen. Perth and Glasgow are the main ones.

[GS] I think two years ago you came third.

[AS] No it was second at Glasgow.

[GS] I came fourth at Perth.

[TM] So you compete as individuals? Are there pairs competitions as well?

[GS] Some of them, but we don't really go in for that

[AS] The ones we've been competing in there's usually about thirty-forty folk, so it's really hard. You have to practice a lot to go there.

[TM] I've just started competing at the singing competitions. So I know what it's like, all those folk who are very good.

[AS] I also do Highland dancing so it helps when we're out playing you know because I do a bit of highland dancing. I'm up to my teacher's standard, but I haven't had time to do my teacher's [examination] so I'll have to stop this year because I'm going to Aberdeen to university.

[GS] You've been dancing for fourteen years.

[TM] Did you compete as well.

[AS] Yes, but I don't have time now. I think it helped because I've been at competitions when I was dancing and I thought o well accordion competition we'll try that as well. We've been abroad quite a few times playing.

[TM] Where to?

[GS] Last year we were in Denmark and Norway. 1990 Audrey was in Norway and we were in Denmark last year and I was in Norway last year playing the accordion.

[AS] We played on the boat on the way back from Denmark for a dance/concert. I've also been in Sweden and did dancing there as well. A lot of it's been through Scouts and Guides.

[TM] Have you learnt any accordion or dance tunes from over there?

[AS] Yes, when I was in Austria I learnt some Austrian tunes, that was good.

[GS] When we were in Denmark we got some music.

[AS] It has been quite good. The Scouts definitely took us out because we were selected from Scotland to go to these places, you went through different interviews and then when your out there it's like a big jamboree and they want you to perform some kind of traditional things, so I did my highland dancing and we took our accordions and people sang along Scottish tunes with us; it was good.

[GS] Last year I began learning the drums at school, so it's a bit of a sideline, I play them occasionally.

[TM] More difficult to take on the road.

[GS] Slightly more difficult [laughs]. But I accompany Audrey on the drums sometimes.

[AS] Gives more variety instead of just the accordion.

[TM] Who are your teachers on the accordion.

[AS] Peter Farnan at Dyce. He's really good, he teaches most of the people, like Lynn Gould, you've maybe heard of, or Lynn Christie, people like that. They've all got there own bands nearly.

[TM] So does he tour round, I mean does he come round the district?

[AS] No you've to go to him, go in every week.

[GS] We get taught piano by him as well, so we go in one week for piano and the other week for accordion.

[AS] He's really the nearest teacher there is.

[GS] We also teach music.

[AS] We teach people the accordion.

[GS] We've both got a couple of pupils, beginners.

[TM] That's very good experience.

[GS] It's quite hard to get the message over you know.

[AS] It's hard, one of my pupil's she's only eight, it's hard cause you can't get on with the theory of the music, because her maths is not so far on, because she is still in primary and it's gets complicated trying to explain it in a simple way. I enjoy doing it, you just have to think it out and simplify it. You just read the music and think o yeah, but then when you have to teach it you've to really think about it. It helped doing the theory exam, having piano we had to do Grade 5 theory before you can go on to do Grade 6 playing and I think that helped for the accordion, because the accordion you can just carry on, but doing that theory helped for the teaching part.
[GS] Just another experience I think.

[AS] It's a lot of hard work, but it's worth it.

[TM] Sounds like there aren't enough hours in the day.

[TM] Will you continue, Audrey, when you come to Aberdeen, going to Peter Farnan?

[AS] Yeah, I though since there won't be a piano there I'm going to take a keyboard and practice my piano on the keyboard when I go to Aberdeen then come and practice at weekend. I'll take my accordion in as well. I'll probably come home most weekends and then Gordon and I go into music on a Sunday and get our lesson again. It should be okay as long as nobody complains about the noise. I thought I could practice my accordion on the morning when everyone is getting up and my keyboard, cause I put in earphones, at night so it won't disturb anyone else.

[TM] That will be a big change for you--separated?

[AS] It will be a bit harder probably because I won't be able to come and play out at concerts, only weekends really, that will be one disadvantage, won't get so much practice together. Hopefully we'll keep going at weekends.

[TM] Gordon, when were you born?

[GS] 1977 in Banff, so I'm sixteen years old. I'm in sixth year at school and hoping to go to university this coming year, probably Aberdeen so I can carry on my music.

[TM] Do they think music will be the focus of what you want to do?

[GS] No, I was thinking of studying accountancy, but I think music will just be a sideline, extra money. I think there will be a lot of opportunities for traditional music on the future, but I think it's best to get an education before you start on your music. Our music teacher used to be an auditor, now he teaches full-time.

[AS] You can always go back to whatever you want to do if you start on music, if you've got a degree. Nowadays it doesn't seem to matter as long as you've got a degree.

[Ian Powrie's Farewell to Auchterarder/ Jacqueline Waltz on accordion]

[Tom McKean] Do you usually play any other instruments?

[Gordon Steele] We try our best.

[Audrey Steele] It's quite hard, when two people play together, one will do first, like this, then there be someone just like bumping along, just on the key.

[TM] No-one likes being second fiddle, and your both playing the chord patterns as well?

[GS] Yes, exactly the same.

[AS] Sometimes I'll do second box if he's wantin to play somethin on his one, and I'll just back it, but none of us really like to sit back and do second.

[GS] I think it's easy enough to play slow tunes together in unison, but when you get on to the jigs, marches, reels, it's quite hard.

[AS] Would you like to hear a continental tune?

[GS] These are tunes Graham composed, he's got two books a tunes, this is the type of tunes we plays in competitions.

[AS] There just a book of jigs and we just put together what we want. Sometimes I'll do a Scott Skinner tune an maybe two o his and then one of Peter Farnan's tunes. Just depends, just choose what you want.

[GS] The march is 'Patrice Norrie,' the Strathspey is 'View from Brimond[?]' and the reel is 'Nessie Gowan's' all by Peter Farnan.

[Accordion playing above tunes]

[AS] Two jigs again by Peter Farnan. The first one's 'Cameron's Gold' and the second one is 'Wee Brian's Jig.'

[Accordion playing above tunes]

[GS] I think there's a lot of accidentals. Couldn't get it together really, it's style is rhapsody music

[Accordion playing Austrian tunes]

[GS] Going to play a sing-a-long selection. We find it's quite popular when we go out entertaining this one. It's a few tunes most people know in this corner. It's 'Here's to the Gordons,' 'The Lights o Lochindall,' 'The Uist Tramping Song,' 'Bonnie Kirkwall Bay,' and 'A Wee Deoch an Doris.'

[Accordion plays above tunes]

[Accordion duets]


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