Alistair Brown

Alistair Brown

BandFolk

I sing old songs and new songs written by people who like the old songs, mainly in the Scottish tradition. I play anglo concertina and button accordion. I call ceilidh dances and tell funny stories. I am an old festival hand, and can fit into many workshop formats as well as main stage performances

Biography

Alistair Brown has been singing the old songs, and new songs written by people who like the old songs, since he was fifteen years old. He began his career helping out in the folk clubs of his native Scotland during what Utah Phillips called the great folk scare of the 60s, opening bottles (and occasionally concerts) for many of the great names in folk music.

From 1972 to 2002, he lived in Canada, where he was active in many aspects of folk song and dance, as a recording artist, radio broadcaster, columnist, festival director, dance teacher, university lecturer, and program director at folk music and dance camps. With several visits each year, he continues to make regular appearances in North American folk clubs and festivals, performing solo, or with the Friends of Fiddler's Green, with whom he has played for over 35 years.

In 2002, he returned to the UK, to live in Cornwall, on England's Mediterranean coast, where he calls dances and performs regularly in folk clubs, festivals, pub sessions and several ancient seasonal rituals that require the presence of accordions.

As well as his solo work, he sings and plays with Feague, and with Hudson Swan (ex Tannahill Weavers). He is also a member of the Golowan Band, which leads the processions for the Mazey Day and Montol festivities in Penzance, as well as participating in several other events in Cornwall, such as Bodmin Riding and Kernow Gorsedd. Locally, he calls barn dances with the Newlyn Reelers, and has led ceilidh dances in California, Massachusetts and West Virginia, as well as at festivals in England.

Audiences at concerts and festivals across North America and the UK have responded enthusiastically to his performances, covering the field from big ballads, comic ditties, songs of struggles (usually unsuccessful) against temptation, odes to conviviality and songs of unashamed sentimentality, to outrageously funny stories from a master of the art - all this accompanied by anglo concertina, button accordion and harmonica.

He has entertained groups of elementary and secondary school pupils from 20 to 300 with songs and stories, been MC at many festivals and concerts, including hosting a symphony concert for an audience of 5000, has been guest on numerous radio and television programmes. He calls barn dances and has played in numerous dance bands. He has run courses on folk music in university and summer music camps, and has taught folk dance for many years. From 1978 to 2002, he was producer/ host of A Sign of the Times, heard on CIXX fm London (106.9). For five years he also hosted Off She Goes, syndicated nationally in the USA on National Public Radio.

This year Alistair has appeared in Australia, New Zealand, California, Massachusetts, and Ontario, as well as club and festival performances in the UK.

"At our Marine Heritage Festival Alistair Brown did it all - from captivating public school students, to calling dances, to playing in the pub - all on the same day! With his arsenal of squeezeboxes and pocket instruments, Alistair is great in both workshop and concert settings and knows more jokes than anyone else I know!" ... Ian Bell Curator/Director Port Dover Harbour Museum

"Mastery of storytelling in song" ... London Free Press

"Shone vocally ..." (concert with Orchestra London) ... Scene Magazine

"Outrageously entertaining" ... John C. Campbell Folk School, North Carolina

"Every minute.... was exceptional" ... Macon County Arts Council, North Carolina

"Two grand masters of traditional singing brought out the best of each other, and the songs, to the absolute joy of everybody" (concert with Danny Spooner) ... Camperdown, Victoria, Australia

“A stunning evening” … Wheal Dream Folk Club

“Little wonder that he enjoys a healthy reputation as a much-in-demand performer (proficient and appealing both as singer and anglo concertina/ button accordion player) replete with versatility and good humour – a true folk entertainer.” Living Tradition Magazine

Discography

No Idle Jest, The Swan Necked Valve, Deil in the Lum.
This Side of the Ocean and Road to Mandalay with the Friends of Fiddler's Green

Set List

Bonny wee lassie’s answer
Braes of Gight
Laundromat Lover
Billy Taylor
Swan Necked Valve
Dockyard Gate
Bottle of the best
No More Fish
There’s bound to be a row
Willie Brewed a Peck of Malt
Cholesterol
Last trip home
Pills of White Mercury
Tak a dram
Sands o’ the Shore
Deil in the Lum
Brisk Young Lad
Light Dragoon
The funeral

Jock o’Hazeldene
Errant Apprentice
Sae Will We Yet
Works Outing
Hot Asphalt
The False Bride
A Man’s a Man
A Wee bird Cam tae ma Apron
Auld Lang Syne
Hamlet