Congratulations to Tolbooth Stirling who has been nominated in Venue of the Year sponsored by Musicians’ Union in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2022. Vote for Tolbooth Stirling now!. It’s going to be another great night at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards on Sunday 4th December in Dundee’s Caird Hall. Why not join us for a brilliant night of music and awards. Buy a ticket here.
We asked Tara of Tolbooth Stirling the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
Tolbooth Stirling is a vibrant music and arts venue, a welcoming space for all to enjoy with a year-round programme of music, comedy, ceilidhs, screenings, talks, and theatre. Our programme covers all genres but with a main focus on Scottish traditional music, and folk music. Tolbooth also houses a multimedia visual art gallery with regular free exhibitions, and a lively café bar.
All this happens in a fully accessible, stunning grade ‘A' listed building dating back to the 17th century in the historic 'Top of The Town' area of Stirling. With a checkered past as a courthouse and jail, famously housing Baird & Hardie following the radical uprising, it’s no surprise that the venue lends itself to a fair few tales. This depth of history and associated mystery adds to the atmosphere and drama, which coupled with the intimate layout, and world class performances, has helped establish Tolbooth Stirling as one of the best small venues in Scotland and beyond.
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
At Tolbooth we are passionate about supporting Scottish music and the arts, and about the positive effects that authentic cultural experiences can have on our community. Our team are dedicated to providing an environment where audiences arrive feeling welcomed and leave feeling moved and thrilled, having experienced something wonderful among a community of Scottish music lovers. We care deeply about the musicians and artists we work with and do what we can to ensure they have a platform, and feel nurtured and supported to continue to create incredible work. It's also important to us that young people are supported to learn traditional Scottish instruments and song, to ensure we are supporting the next generation of Scottish musicians, to that end we host Fèis Fhoirt each week at Tolbooth, and (as well as our cross genre free music and song writing lessons for young people at Tolbooth), we host YMI supported 'Tolbooth Trad' classes, and facilitate YMI outreach programme such as Scot's Sang.
Any particular career highlights?
After several years of covid related closure, while it's been a slow return to live events this year, the fact that we are coming together again for live music has made the entire year feel like a highlight for us.
A project that we are particularly proud of is the bespoke score and performance that was created for us by Duncan Lyall this year – 'A Tale of Tolbooth'. The project started off as a multimedia art exhibition at Tolbooth Gallery, funded by Creative Scotland, where five Scottish Visual Artists (Alice Campbell, Catherine Eckersall, Harry Kemp, Kirstie Young and Fiona Black) were commissioned to create work as their response to the Tolbooth’s unique history and current place in Stirling’s vibrant arts scene. The exhibition was sound tracked by a bespoke musical score created by Duncan, providing a multisensory experience. We were bowled over by the incredible piece of music that Duncan created for the exhibition along with Ali Hutton and Patsy Reid, taking not just inspiration from the building but using the building itself in the work, with the sound of Tolbooth’s bell tower chiming throughout the piece. The music was so wonderful that we felt we had to do more with it, so secured additional funding and commissioned Duncan to develop the work into a full performable piece, which he then performed live at Tolbooth this year, with Ali and Patsy creating an incredibly impressive and moving live show.
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for Tolbooth are to continue, and to build on, the work that the venue has been delivering for 20 years. It's a tricky time for live events, but we are determined to do all we can to support musicians, artists, and the wider events network while delivering an accessible programme that our community can be proud of. Something that we started this year, and that we hope to continue into next year is our Cafe Concerts series which is designed to offer new performance opportunities for musicians, while creating an informal audience experience as we try to encourage audiences back and reach new audiences for our performers. As well as new performance opportunities for established musicians, this series is also our way of providing a route into performing for up and coming acts who not yet established enough to play full theatre shows, but need support to help build a following. The programme tends to be a mix of both levels of musicians, and so far in this series we have hosted performances by artists such as Beth Malcolm, Lewis McLaughlin, Josie Duncan, Michael McGovern, Hector Shaw, Amy Papiransky, and Jellymans Daughter.
Tolbooth Stirling Social Media
The 2022 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards are back to normal on the 4th December 2022! You will be able to watch it live in person (buy a ticket here),Watch it live in the UK at 9pm (GMT) on BBC ALBA and and around the world here. Bands performing on Sunday 4th December include Elephant Sessions, Fara, Trip, Eryn Rae Trio, The Auldeners, Gordon Shand Scottish Dance Band, Irish Minstrels, Tayside Young Fiddlers, and a James Alexander Tribute.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians why not become a friend of Hands Up for Trad. In addition to our high profile events like the Scots Trad Music Awards, we also deliver a less well known, education programme for young people from 8yrs right through to young adults at the start of their careers. Read more here.