ORGANISING a party in a brewery is, so the saying would suggest, one of life’s easier tasks. When that party is being held to mark no less than a 300-year anniversary, then it’s essential that all the right ingredients are in place.

For Belhaven, long-standing supporters of Scottish traditional music, their landmark birthday is the perfect excuse for a party – and one to which the cream of Scottish folk is invited.

This Saturday, the company’s ancient Dunbar brewery will play host to a day-long celebration of music and beer. On the bill will be Capercaillie, Niteworks, Elephant Sessions, Assynt, Breabach, Tide Lines, Talisk, Kinnaris Quintet and Dougie MacLean. It’s a dream line-up – fitting for a company who have ploughed so much money into traditional music in Scotland.

The National:

Gordon Muir, Belhaven Brewery’s marketing controller and festival organiser, explained: “It’s not every year you get to mark a milestone as big as 300 years and so we wanted to celebrate this with Belhaven’s two loves, beer and Scottish music. Belhaven’s 300th Birthday Bash is the ultimate party for those fans and our loyal customers who enjoy nothing more than a few beers and great live music.

“The line-up demonstrates the breadth and vibrancy of the Scottish folk scene at the moment. Many of these bands have travelled the globe performing their tunes in Sydney Opera House, Byron Bay, America and more, while Tide Lines sold out their November Barrowland show in just six minutes, so this event is a great opportunity to see some of the most in-demand traditional artists play in the fantastic setting of our brewery in Dunbar.”

“We’ve plenty of things for the whole family to do including storytelling and games for youngsters, selfie sessions and music masterclasses for the teens, and beer-tastings and brewery tours for the adults.

Belhaven have been instrumental in the advancement of the scene in recent years through the Belhaven Bursary, second only in the UK to the Mercury Music Prize in terms of cash, which has been such a boon to those acts lucky enough to win it.

READ MORE: The folk rock outfit breaking the chains of trauma and taboo over mental health

Both of the previous winners, Elephant Sessions and Talisk, will be playing on Saturday and both have spoken about just how important the £25,000 award is for up-and-coming bands.

“[The bursary] allows us to increase the profile of the band significantly and put us places where no-one has heard of us.” said Mohsen Amini of 2019 winners Talisk. “So then we can be selling bigger gigs and getting better slots.

“We’ve also been able to enhance the live show and bring in a light technician to make us more of a late-night party band, which also makes it more interesting for theatre shows and the like.”

For 2018 winners Elephant Sessions, the bursary has allowed them to significantly raise their profile to the extent that this year they were welcomed back to Glastonbury for a second time.

Fiddler Euan Smillie told The National: “The bursary was huge for us. It was a big help for covering touring costs. We travel with a crew of seven now so it can be very difficult to get on the road, so it helped get us to places we wouldn’t have been able to go before. This year’s trip in particular to the US and Australia, helped provide a buffer by covering most of the travelling costs, and it’s allowed us to get to the next level. It has put us in a great position for the coming year. It is going to have a lasting effect for us.”

Joining Talisk and Elephant Sessions on stage will be stalwarts Dougie MacLean and Capercaillie. Bridging the gap between the new generation and the old, these veterans of Scottish folk were at the very forefront of the folk revival which has seen Scotland become home to one of the most vibrant and forward-looking folk scenes anywhere in the world.

MacLean, famous of course for his anthemic Caledonia, is sure to be a hit with his beautifully pitched songs of exile, of loss and of home.

Capercaillie, meanwhile, have a line-up which is packed with folk legends. Michael McGoldrick, Charlie McKerron et al will join Celtic Connections supremo Donald Shaw and vocalist Karen Matheson as one of the original bands of Celtic rock hit the stage in Dunbar.

The immensely popular Tide Lines will be showcasing their own brand of Celtic rock which has seen them travel the globe, while electro-Gaels Niteworks are sure to go down a storm with their dance beats overlain with Gaelic song, fiddles and pipes.

The National:

Kinnaris Quintet will be bringing some sequined glamour to the affair as the all-girl five-piece continue their upwards trajectory which has seen them become festival favourites across Scotland and beyond this summer. With two fiddles, a five-string fiddle, Jenn Buttwerworth’s guitar and Laura-Beth Salter’s delicate mandolin, they are not to be missed.

Breabach, meanwhile, continue to build on the success of their latest album, Frenzy Of The Meeting, and this is a rare chance to catch them before they head off to North America and Europe.

There is something captivating about the songs and tunes on Frenzy of the Meeting, an immediacy that speaks to a band at the height of their powers.

Up-and-coming three-piece Assynt complete the line-up, with their unashamedly west coast mix of driving pipe tunes, fiddle and guitar.

Three hundred years is certainly an anniversary worth celebrating but, for fans of Scottish traditional music, it is Belhaven’s ongoing commitment to the genre that is the real cause for celebration.

Oh, and apparently their beer isn’t bad either ...

For further info go to