Blazin’ in Beauly

Blazin' Fiddles

From October 11-17, Beauly will ring to the sound of strathspeys, reels and other traditional fiddle music as Blazin’ in Beauly comes to town!

“Beauly has great musical significance,” says Bruce MacGregor, founder of Blazin’ Fiddles and the man behind the festival, who explains that it all stems from Scott Skinner (1843-1927), one of the main figures in the development of Scottish traditional music and a founder member of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society.

“Scott Skinner stayed in Beauly when he was broke, lodging with Donald Morison, the ironmonger, who actually built a soundproof room in his basement so he could play all night.”

The fact that Bruce knows Donald Fraser, the shop’s current owner, is a happy coincidence.

“Beauly has great musical significance,” says Bruce MacGregor, founder of Blazin’ Fiddles.

Donald’s grand-uncle, David Fraser, played the fiddle and was a member of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society and was probably a friend of Scott Skinner as well. Donald still has his grand-uncle David’s fiddle. Neither he nor his family play the violin but when fiddlers, for example Aly Bain or Duncan Chisholm, call at Morisons, they ask to play this fine instrument.

“Donald Riddell, my own fiddle teacher, lived close by and he taught three of the founding members of Blazin’ Fiddles,” continues Bruce. “There is a huge musical heritage in the area.”

Although the majority of music at the festival will be of the foot-tapping variety, there is history behind its name too. “Blazin’ actually comes from a period in Highland history where musical instruments were burnt on pyres because of religious fanaticism,” says Bruce.

This year’s Festival coincides with the Mod in Inverness and on the first Saturday night, on October 11, there will be a joint Fiddler’s Rally in the Eden Court Theatre, under Bruce’s direction. “It’s a hell of a good time for one and all!”