Selkirk Sessions filled the Royal Burgh’s pubs and clubs with local musicians last weekend, despite the drab weather.
Guitarists, fiddlers and singers turned up in Selkirk, travelling from around the Borders, Northumberland, and the west, for three days of ‘take it as it comes’ sessions, a competition and ceilidh.
“There were quite a lot of camper vans and tents - which was surprising, given the weather,” the festival’s chairman Davey Scott said.
“The people who come always enjoy it. People said it had a really nice and friendly feeling. It was quite well supported, and the standard of musicians was quite high.”
The rainy Friday night saw three sessions running simultaneously, in Selkirk’s Tory Club, Bowling Club and Town Arms pub - each featuring around 20 musicians, and ending late into the night at 1.30am. But, Mr Scott observed: “The Tory Club had more musicians than visitors, just because of the weather.”
A slightly fairer Saturday afternoon saw the competitions kicking off in Angus O’Malleys bar, where musicians turned up to compete for the ‘song/poem’, ‘instrumental’ and ‘chorus’ quaiches, inscribed by ‘Souter’ Colin Turnbull.
“At 2.30pm we still had more judges than competitors - it looked a bit dodgy,” worried Mr Scott, “but then everyone came in, and it went on until 4.45pm.” The winners were: Davie Rodgers from Selkirk in song/poem category; the fiddlers Riddell Rabble in the instrumental class; and Patsy McArthur for the Chorus Cup, which is judged on the chorus that gets the best singing from the audience.
Two more unplanned sessions followed on Saturday evening, running from 8.30pm to 1.30am, anchored by local musician Brian Cherrie in Selkirk’s Bowling Club, and by Guy Smith of Dere Street in the Tory Club. “The whole dance floor was taken up with people,” Mr Scott recalled, “so there were around 30 musicians.”
On Sunday morning Riddell Fiddles held a workshop, before the Sunday ceilidh burled away in the Tory Club, where Selkirk Pipe Band turned up, all in full uniform, to join the scratch band. “It was great to see the cooperation between musicians,” Mr Scott said.
But the low number of younger participants was “a disappointment this year”, he added. “Things go up and down. Because it’s unstructured and unscripted, it’s difficult to control who comes. We’d like to encourage more youngsters to come.”