PAISLEY’S annual Spree festival kicks off next month with a programme sure to excite fans of traditional – and not so traditional – music.

The festival is from October 13-24 and is being run in conjunction with the town’s bid to be named the UK City of Culture for 2021.

The event opens with what promises to be an intriguing collaboration as the festival twins with the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) to present a concert featuring artists from Scotland and the Indian region.

A Musical Tapestry – at the Spiegeltent on October 13 – will celebrate the ties between the two areas, especially their pasts as hubs of the textile industry and, indeed, their shared use of the famous Paisley pattern.

The concert will be performed in Rajasthan on October 6 and then in Paisley the following week.

Piper Ross Ainslie (right), one half of Folk Duo of the Year Ross and Ali, as well as being a founder member of Treacherous Orchestra and a long-time collaborator with Jarlath Henderson, is taking on the role as musical director for the project which will also feature Blue Rose Code and Angus Lyon of Blazin’ Fiddles. They will be joined by Smita Bellur, a traditional vocalist performing in Urdu, Kannadi, Punjabi and Hindi, and the first female to gain accept-ance in a field generally dominated by male so-called mystic singers.

Alongside her will be Asin Khan Langa whose vocal talents are matched by his musical ability with the traditional Indian Sindhi sarangi – a stringed instrument used in North Indian traditional music. Percussionist Sawai Khan completes the line-up for what is certain to be an intriguing meeting of musical cultures.

Festival organiser Lisa Whytock said: “The British Council and Creative Scotland made some funding available for projects that celebrated the connections between Scotland and India. This was perfect timing for both the Spree and the RIFF festivals as we have been keen to collaborate for quite some time.

“We looked at the similarities of Paisley and Rajasthan and the connections between the Paisley pattern and textiles in both cities and the musical and digital tapestries were born.

“The theme of this year’s festival is friendship and in fact all of our shows are collaborations or unique performances of some kind.

“It is therefore brilliant to be able to open the Spree with an international concert which is a collaboration with one of our closest festival friends, RIFF.”

Elsewhere, local hero Paolo Nutini will return to his hometown to perform at Paisley Abbey on Friday October 20, while Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon plays with Orcadians Fara on October 15.

If you don’t have tickets for Nutini’s sold-out show then make sure and catch the excellent Breabach, who dominated last year’s Trad Awards thanks to their stunning Astar album. The west coast five-piece are bringing along special friends for their October 20 show at the Spiegeltent, including era-defining singer/songwriter Kris Drever of Lau, and Talisk, winners of the 2015 Young Folk Award. It promises to be a special night.

One of Scotland’s national treasures, Dougie MacLean, also returns to the festival, this time alongside Quebec’s De Temps Antan, whose reimagining of traditional Quebecois musical history is infused with a boundless energy. They play the Spiegeltent on October 18.

“I have a real fondness for Paisley and The Spree is one of my favourite festivals in Scotland,” said MacLean. “I’ve played both the Abbey and Spiegeltent before and both are great spaces to perform in.

“This year the festival asked me to celebrate their theme of ‘Friendship’ and so I will be appearing with new musical friends De Temps Antan from Quebec. It should be a great night!”

Other highlights to look out for include Frightened Rabbit performing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Paisley Abbey on October 17, Pictish Trail (right) bringing his unique brand of dancey electro folk to Paisley Arts Centre at Lost Map’s Strange Invitation on October 22, and Emma Pollock performing with RM Hubbert on October 15.

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “With Paisley being the only Scottish place on the UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist, The Spree is a perfect showcase of both our ability to attract top international talent and our thriving local scene.

“The sold-out Paisley Abbey shows with Paolo Nutini and Frightened Rabbit will be among this year’s highlights but there’s a varied programme of more than 60 events across the town, with many art forms including dance, theatre and spoken word all featuring, plus a programme of free shows for kids.”

For full listings, including free events and workshops, go to