It’s music to Souters’ ears – club is saved

Music teacher and performer Paul Capaldi from Galashiels who won five trophies at Perth Accordion & Fiddle Festival.
Music teacher and performer Paul Capaldi from Galashiels who won five trophies at Perth Accordion & Fiddle Festival.

THE Royal Burgh’s accordion and fiddle club has been saved.

Set up 28 years ago, the group of traditional musicians were set to pack away their instruments for the last time due to rising costs – but Scottish accordion champion Paul Capaldi, along with a series of anonymous sponsors, have stepped in to keep the club going.

Paul, from Galashiels, told The Wee Paper: “A few people got in touch and asked me if I would consider keeping it going. The club had simply run out of money. Each meeting you have a guest artist and depending who it is, the cost can be between £150 and £300. But if not enough people are coming through the door it is difficult to generate that income at every meeting.”

MC Robin Davidson said the club was founded by Murray Beattie in 1983 and has held monthly meetings in the cricket club since its inception, apart from a three-year stint in O’Malley’s.

Robin said: “We have had some very good bands and musicians such as Jim Johnstone, Bill Black and John Laidlaw. Musicians came from across Scotland and we got a lot of help from other players in the Borders.

“We were getting ready to fold in due to falling numbers until Paul stepped in. Hopefully the club can go on for another 28 years now.”

Paul, who also runs the Lauder Accordion and Fiddle Club, is aiming to attract a younger audience and wants to work with other traditional musical groups in the town.

“When the average age of those in the club is between 65 and 70, you realise you have to try and attract more youngsters if you are to keep it going, which can be difficult as the accordion is often seen as an old person’s instrument. Selkirk High have a great music department so hopefully we can get involved with them and I know Sheila Sapkota from Riddell Fiddles, so we are planning to get them along to play in November.”

And the music teacher is sure there is demand for the accordion and fiddle in the Royal Burgh.

“I remember the Alexander Brothers performed at the Victoria Halls a few years ago as a fundraiser for the Berwick Bandits,” said Paul. “We got an audience of around 200, and while a few tickets were sold in Galashiels and Hawick, the vast majority was from Selkirk.

“It showed there is a real passion for traditional Scottish music, in particular accordion and fiddle, in the town.”

The next meeting of Selkirk Accordion and Fiddle Club is September 8 at the cricket club, with Coldstream Fiddle Club chairman Ewen Galloway featuring.