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Meet the Fiddler

Pete Clark is one of Scotland’s top fiddlers. Pete leads the famous traditional music session at the Taybank Inn every Thursday when he’s not down in Glasgow teaching at the Royal Scottish Academy for Music & Arts. If he’s got a moment free, he’s probably off fishing. Pete champions local music. “Niel Gow, the famous 18th century fiddler and composer grew up just half a mile from here, leaving us an amazing heritage. Musicians in the area are keen to keep his music alive and you’ll hear it in local concerts and sessions”. Here’s Pete’s overview of music and culture in the area:

Where can you go to hear live music?

The Taybank Inn has a guitar based session on a Wednesday night and a traditional music session on a Thursday. Musicians and listeners are welcome at both. If you want to play fiddle, you could join in with the Strathspey & Reel Society when they meet on Mondays at Dunkeld Primary School. Mid Atholl Strings also welcomes visiting musicians and plays at Ballinluig Hall on Wednesday nights. The Bankfoot Inn also has regular Wednesday evening sessions.

Do you have any local music festivals?

Yes. The NIel Gow Festival in March is well established, with concerts, workshops and guided walks all celebrating local fiddling hero, Niel Gow (1727-1807).

Dougie MacLean, famous for the alternative Scottish anthem, Caledonia, grew up in this area and still lives here. It’s always worth checking his website to see what’s coming up.

Any other big cultural events?

The Birnam Highland Games are held on the last Saturday in August and have run for over 150 years. They feature pipe bands, all kinds of competitions for Highland dancing, piping, races, caber tossing and lots more. It’s quite spectacular and a lot of fun.

Do you have cultural events during the year?

We are really lucky to have the Birnam Arts Centre. It has a vibrant programme that runs all year with high calibre artists spanning music, drama, comedy, films, talks, streamed opera, classes and lots of community events. It’s also got an excellent café and is family friendly. We’ve also got the Birks Cinema just up the road in Aberfeldy.

Have you got anything for art lovers in the area?

We’ve got quite a few galleries over in Dunkeld and Birnam Arts has a steady stream of art exhibitions all year. For 10 weeks each summer, you can see the Dunkeld Art Exhibition which raises money for the upkeep of Dunkeld Cathedral. Each year around 200 artists from all over the UK show paintings, prints and sculptures and the exhibition attracts some 10,000 visitors each year.

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