AUDIENCES didn’t shout “Judas” or take an axe to the power cables when Aidan Moffat “customised” old folk songs while playing the Highlands and Islands a couple of years ago, but, as tours go, it wasn’t always the easiest of rides. The ex-Arab Strap singer was attempting to bring a contemporary twist to cherished items from the Travellers’ tradition and, unsurprisingly, certain people took offence to his typically bawdy new lyrics.

What was surprising, however, was that some of those heckling him were the same age as anyone you’d expect to see at his regular gigs in the central-belt cities. Quite often the older members of the audience were laughing and singing along. The evidence is there for all to see in Where You’re Meant To Be, a documentary film about the tour that receives its world premiere at the Barrowland Ballroom tomorrow as part of the Glasgow Film Festival.

“When I did my version of The Parting Song at the Cullerlie ceilidh in the farm park in Echt, they seemed to quite enjoy it,” he remembers. “Those are people who are deeply into traditional music but they seemed far more accepting of what I was doing.

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“I tended to concentrate for the set on songs that made me laugh, and rewrite them, because people’s perception of folk music is pretty dour. People who aren’t familiar with the folk scene don’t expect to go to a folk gig and sit there laughing. But people who are within it were quite open to that idea, certainly the older generation.”

One person with whom Moffat did bump heads, however, was the great Scottish singer and custodian of the Travellers’ heritage, Sheila Stewart. Before she died in December 2014, she and Moffat met a few times, and their often spiky conversations, caught on film as they drove around the country, are central to the film’s themes.

“At one point Sheila did say ‘Do you know what? You can do what you like,’” Moffat explains. “But after that, when she was being filmed and I wasn’t there, she would say she was disgusted with what I had done. She must have known she didn’t have long to go. She would talk about how she was the last in her line to keep the songs and her tradition alive, so I think she became more deeply protective about what she had.”

Where You’re Meant To Be, directed by Paul Fegan, is at times a rather poetic and beautiful film. It has its laugh-out-loud moments and a couple of scenes that are profoundly moving. But at its core lies a question that goes to the heart of music, of any genre, that is considered to be part of a people’s identity. Should these traditional songs, handed down over generations, be preserved as if they were museum pieces? Or should they be developed so that they remain fresh and relevant to new audiences? The film’s triumph is that it proves both attitudes can, and should, co-exist.

“I didn’t know anything at all about folk music when I was a kid,” Moffat admits. “My parents were never into it; there wasn’t really anything traditional in my house. When I started with Arab Strap, the idea of singing in my accent and writing with Scots words and phrases wasn’t inspired by anything other than the fact that I didn’t really hear it anywhere else other than The Proclaimers. It’s curious that I’ve ended up doing something that seems to have its roots in that traditional Scottish folk song – something that’s very much about the storytelling, not about the singing.”

Where You’re Meant To Be plays the Barrowland, Glasgow, tomorrow and Glasgow Film Theatre on Wednesday before a screening and live performance tour in late March/early April (details at www.whereyouremeanttobe.com). A live album recorded in Drumnadrochit will be released on March 25.