It’s a hot day. Feels like it’s getting close to 40c…
That’s because I am in the south of Italy. In the city known to Italians as the Venice of the South - Lecce. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of water here though. Ever since I arrived I can’t stop drinking. Not any of the good stuff though. Today is day 259 of my Alcohol free challenge. One Year no beer. That also means no Vino and no Limoncello or Aperol Spritz.
To be honest I have surprised myself during this AF period. Constantly improving and trying new things. Exposing my faults. Learning to use technology better as well. It’s so great to never have a hangover. I feel liberated. I started meditating and my playing and Karate is getting better. For years there’s been a pressure, as a musician, to drink. An expectation of sorts. Part of the act as a Scottish accordionist. Playing in Bars a lot as well. I feel I am free from all that now. I’m not sure if I will ever want to go back. I enjoy the new found focus and clarity. I feel a happier person and those around me can see I am. I think I am getting better at everything I do and pushing forward with things I dreamed about in the past. Taking more risks as well.
For example. Next month I have arranged a ceilidh at the Beach Ballroom, really taking a risk here with this one. Done it from my lap top in the South of Italy. I have often been asked over the years by people to do an afternoon ceilidh so that folks can join in with their families etc, so here we are. Afternoon ceilidh time. I am trying to spread the word via Facebook, and through some public advertising sites.
If this is successful, if we can cover our costs and not lose money on it then we will try this again. We will need people to help though. Please spread the word and please come to the ceilidh and dance. Aberdeen can be a difficult place to get people motivated to do anything a little different. Our culture is in danger of becoming consumed in cheap thrills from an American UK fast food type culture. (some of you will agree with me) That’s fine if you enjoy those things (It’s said - even a person who has steak every day, will sometimes want a cheeseburger J) but it’s good to save a little room for something uniquely Scottish and fun to do with your family and friends. A ceilidh doesn’t have to be just for a wedding. A ceilidh, is translated as a social gathering among families and friends. This one we have planned at the beach will seem strange maybe. It’s at 2pm. In daylight. I am hoping that enough people will be available and able to enjoy the experience. There will be some afternoon food served, sandwiches and cup-cakes so there’s something most people should like to eat. Afterwards you might want to go for dinner somewhere nearby or take in a movie at the Cinema.
Another thing, please buy the tickets in advance via Eventbrite. There’s an embedded link window on our own website under the Buy Tickets Page and also on our Facebook event page. It’s much easier at our end if the tickets are sold in advance. It saves us doing the door and keeps our costs down. We also know where we stand financially and saves sleepless nights before the gig.;-)
I hope to see you there and if not please help spread the word.
Sunday 19th August 2018. 2pm at the Beach Ballroom.
Join us this Hogmanay in rural Aberdeenshire for a lovely evening of fine dining and Scottish entertainment washed down with an Iron Broo Ceilidh.
Say goodbye to 2018 and hello to a bright 2019 with a great ceilidh from our own band and finish with our disco.
We have played our ceilidh’s at the MacDonald Pittodrie House Hotel many times over the years. It’s a great venue for Scottish weddings and events and a popular choice for many couples getting married. I once even featured as a special guest on a Garioch Blend Hogmanay video recoded at the hotel, away back in 1999! I appeared as a solo accordionist. I can let readers into a little secret though, the video was actually filmed on a hot sunny afternoon in September! If you look closely you’ll see, there’s hardly a dram on a table to be seen. It was great fun to be a part of the filming and I made some great friends with the Garioch Blend and enjoyed playing gigs with them at ceilidhs, Scottish old-time dances and concert parties for a wee stint. We travelled the North of England, Scotland and around Orkney in a transit mini bus. I believe the Hogmanay video has been shown on television during a Hogmanay show, though I would have been at a gig though and missed it.
It’s funny to be doing a real-life Hogmanay gig at Pittodrie House nearly twenty years later.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this hotel and really look forward to playing for them this Hogmanay ceilidh Ball.
Still available from all good record shops
I remember also when I was a teenager I used to go Clay Pidgeon shooting at Pittodrie House with my father and his friends. It had a good layout and was always very busy with people shooting. I can hear lots of upper class accents and green wellies and cigar smoke. It had a grand reputation and still does. It has an amazingly long driveway up to the front of the hotel and I used to joke that “I don’t fancy taking the bins out!”. It was quite intimidating for a young Aberdeen loonie with a broad doric accent.
Pittodrie House is set in the countryside among trees and farmland at the foot of Ben-Achie. It has an old Victorian Garden with large specialist trees, a lot of the old Victorian and Edwardian stately homes of the time had exotic trees planted back in their day. Like Monkey Puzzle and American Red Woods to name a few. After travelling up the long tree-lined drive way you approach a clearing and the sandstone iconic northeast hotel’s front façade is revealed in all it’s splendour. There is a really nice small bar inside. It has a really traditional Scottish feel to it and a good selection of Whiskies. I am not really ever in that bar these days, but I remember it when I was younger. All the shiny bottles of different sprits, illuminated by the back lighting. Calling to you… The dark reddish leather velour that was on the bar stools and the brass edges at the old wooden bar. I remember it well.
For setting up at a ceilidh or wedding we always enter round the back of the hotel at the tradesman’s entrance. We load the gear in through the side fire exit. Near the function room entrance at the rear of the hotel. There’s also a small bar area off the function room with a nice fireplace and a curved bar. You could often find the band here waiting for the meal to finish prior to the ceilidh dancing. I think we must have sunk quite a few pints and plates of stovies in this room over the years. Best not let our GP’s find out about this little secret…
If you want to book tickets for the Hogmanay ceilidh you should contact the Pittodrie House Hotel for one of their inclusive meal and ceilidh tickets. They are offering also a room deal for the evening if you wish to stay over. You can’t book a ticket for the ceilidh only through us. All ticketing is done through the Hotel for this event. I will include their Hotel Brochure on our NEWS page for download. There's also a link below to download a PDF of their festive brochure.
Hope to see you at one of our ceilidhs soon!
Wow. Sorry to be posting pictures of Santa already! It’s only June and already we have booked our Christmas ceilidh at the Beach Ballroom. It was very successful last year so there was no hesitation in booking the same venue. We sold out pretty quickly last year and I hope this year will be the same.
The wonderful Stovies and Macaroni will be included in the ticket price as before.
We always enjoy playing at the iconic Beach Ballroom. I particularly like the Star Ballroom upstairs as it is a more intimate venue and enjoys great views up the beach and out to sea. It has a great atmosphere for a ceilidh.
The only downside from the band’s point of view is getting all the gear up the stairs as there’s not a lift and some of us are feeling the cold hand of time pull us back as we struggle up the narrow passage way with heavy equipment. Yes, and it's difficult to fit two of us in there at the same time. It's a narrow staircase when you have a big speaker cabinet to carry. The nutritious Stovies at half time taste so good when you’ve broke a bit of sweat.
As usual we will be calling the dances and will start about 8pm taking a break for Stovies back of nine sometime. I remember there was a lady last year was a bit upset, as she’d understood the Stovies were served first, as you would get a meal. But this is not the tradition of a ceilidh. The Stovies are always a buffet item usually served at half time. I think she thought it was a sit-down meal. So, if you have family with you and you usually eat early in the evening as is the norm in Scotland, around 6pm I would still be having my supper as usual and looking at the Stovies or Macaroni as a supplement to keep your ceilidh energy levels as high as possible. The staff serve all the food at the same time during the break. It’s not an ‘order’ item as in a restaurant. Just so we are clear. There is also a Bar available for refreshments.
Anyway, we look forward to seeing you and already ten people have booked tickets in the first few hours of going live. Get your tickets here
Let’s end 2018 on a high.
We were thinking recently… Over the years we have probably played at over 1500 gigs. Probably over a thousand of them weddings. Each time we play we get a little better at what we do. We never stop learning and improving. We get a real reward knowing that what we do makes a difference.
Our ceilidh music gets to make its mark at someone’s special event or their wedding.
We’ve often been on stage with our instruments while a bride and groom cut their cake and I’ve wondered if that has meant we are on the mantlepiece in someone’s living room, perhaps in the background of their wedding photo for years to come. Their future grandchildren gazing at the old photo above the LCD fire and wondering what the strange people in the background were doing with real instruments. Alas, probably that will be the extent of our fame in ceilidh music. But I will die an optimist.
We have continued to improve all aspects of our performance and equipment. Despite the crisis and the threat of gravity and too much Stovies.
We love what we do and after 20 years of playing and practicing we are still ramping up the gigs and exploring new frontiers with our music. We are ready for anything…
A new tune for my Grandma, Elizabeth Littlejohn, (Lizzie) who has been a great inspiration to me since I was very little.
Our next public ceilidh as the Iron Broo Duo will be at the Blue Lamp on Wednesday the 2nd of May 8-11pm.