Festival Folk @ The Oak/The Wee Folk Club

Byrne's material tonight takes in a range of styles and moods, but is mostly taken from poetry written in Scots dialect traditions, and there were clearly a number of jokes that I wasn't the only one to miss through my ear not being attuned. The audience was also very keen to join in with personal favourites, which although quite affecting was also slightly alienating for a newcomer.Some songs were easier to pick up on though, and I particularly enjoyed 'The Last Trip Home', one of two very moving pieces sung tonight about the changes modernisation has wrought on traditional rural culture; the other was 'Generations of Change', a saga of four generations of life in a Fife fishing family sung in a guest spot by Scott Gardner.Regardless of your familiarity with the canon, though, Byrne is a skilful performance – he has a gentle but powerful voice which allows him to sustain some difficult a cappella numbers, including a clear-eyed take on his own grandfather's alcoholism. His guitar technique is bright, lively and dextrous, adding strong melodic support to what would be dirges in less capable hands.A different artist is appearing in this series every night until September 5th, so I can't tell you to go out and see Steve Byrne, but on tonight's evidence if you want to experience traditional Scottish music this is probably the place to go; just be aware how traditional, and how Scottish, it'll probably be.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

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The Blurb

Thirty five fine nights of acoustic folk and traditional music and song by renowned and up-and-coming singers and musicians from Scotland and beyond, in Edinburgh's famously welcoming folk living room. www.royal-oak-folk.com

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