BALERNO BUSKERS :: 2013 – 2022
This article probably marks the end of an era for a number of former and current Scots Music Group students, who have enjoyed a whole decade of busking in Balerno Farmers’ Market and elsewhere: the market takes place once a month on Saturday mornings.
The whole idea of busking to raise funds for SMG came from Sue McIntyre (Sellar) when we were planning the first trip to Spain for members of Ceilidh Caleerie Dance Band in 2009: out of this came The Caleerie Buskers, who played at other Farmers’ Markets on Castle Street, Stockbridge, Juniper Green, Morningside, Portobello, and even as far afield as Bo’ness.
At that time there was already a regular busker at Balerno, so it had to wait until he gave up doing it. In March 2013, we played our first session of 2 hours, which was well received, and we continued thereafter most months, in rain, wind, snow, frost and hail – and occasionally we were blessed with sunshine! The players came from a mixture of SMG sources, but mainly Ceilidh Caleerie and Sarah’s Tuesday and Wednesday classes – some of whom were attending all of them: the repertoire of tunes was drawn from these too, as well as adding in anyone’s favourites. Some players travelled considerable distances from all over the Lothians to be there, for which I am very grateful. We tried to fit the music to any themes the market might have, such as Apple Day in November, Christmas tunes in December, and even some English Morris tunes for the Mayday maypole dancing (not entirely successful – health and safety prevented any repetition of that as said maypole threatened to fall over!)
We also played as a group in other places – “from Cathedrals to Care Homes”, and took part in several Edinburgh Canal Festivals and at day care facilities, with there being quite an overlap between this and some of the other SMG playing groups. Our activities were, of course, interrupted by the unexpected advent of the coronavirus pandemic with all of its restrictions: our last time playing together for quite a while was Saturday 14th March 2020. Although the market re-opened in September that year, it wasn’t practical for us to go back – masks on, 2 feet apart, “just do your shopping and go”. It wasn’t until April 2022 that we felt able to get back to playing, and continued for a further few months, playing our final session in September 2022. However, we had sadly lost a number of our staunchest players along the way, to fatal illnesses: these lovely people are very much missed. And others were tied up with family and other commitments or also experiencing health problems: it was becoming very difficult to get a viable number of players together.
It was so good while it lasted!
My sincere thanks to all who braved the elements and played their socks off, and to Balerno Village Trust for supporting Scots Music Group with a donation each time we played, as well as allowing us to collect.