True North Fringe to include music masterclass, My First Gig and outdoor sessions

A songwriting masterclass, a festival for little ones and relaxed live music sessions are just some of the events that make up True North Fringe, announced today by Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA).

 True North Fringe – fringe events that complement the concert programme of True North– will also include outdoor acoustic and urban acts, brunch sessions and a panel discussion led by music industry experts.

 True North, which has its roots in the heritage of singer-songwriters in the North-east, will take place in venues around the city and in outdoor locations in an expanded four-day programme from September 22 – 25.

 Children can ditch their parents for the day and embark on their first festival experience with My First Gig. Taking place at the Engage Stage at The Lemon Tree from 2pm – 3.45pm on the Sunday, My First Gig is recommended for ages 9-12 and will give youngsters a real taste of festival life, with a performance from harmonious duo Bella & the Bear, support from Scotland-based singer-songwriter Lizabett Russo, and festival facepainting and food and drink added into the mix.

 APA Creative Learning Manager Lisa Mathieson, who is behind the event, said: “This is a fantastic chance for children to come along and experience their first gig independently. They can leave their parents in our ‘grown-ups creche’ downstairs, then head upstairs for lots of festival fun with music from the brilliant Bella & the Bear and Lizabett Russo. They will be in safe hands and fully supervised by a fully qualified and experienced team, while parents and carers can relax with a cuppa downstairs in the Lounge.”

 A two-day Songwriting Masterclass will take place on the Saturday and Sunday at The Anatomy Rooms on Queen Street. Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Fiona Bevan will lead the workshop. Among Fiona’s credits is her incredible partnership with chart-topping musician Ed Sheeran – together they co-wrote hit track Little Things for boyband One Direction. Songwriters involved in the masterclass will have the chance to showcase their work in a unique performance at 5pm on the Sunday.

 APA Director of Programming and Creative Projects, Ben Torrie, said: “We’re so excited to have Fiona on board as our expert mentor for this workshop, and are sure she will have a world of knowledge to pass on to budding singer-songwriters. We’ll release more information about this event in the coming weeks. Places will be limited, so keep your eyes peeled for information on how to get involved.”

 Carrying on the singer-songwriter vein are the Brew North Sessions– a specially curated series of gigs taking place in seven city centre bars, featuring festival artists and top local talent. Set to kick off at noon on Sunday September 25, ticket holders will travel from bar to bar to sample great music from Lizabett Russo, Aberdeen’s own Daniel Mutch and Colin Clyne, as well as Robbie Flanagan, Craig Davidson, Macduff-born Leanne Smith and Aberdeenshire-based Jenny Sturgeon. The bar crawl, which is free to attend, will be led by True North crew and will begin at Brewdog Castlegate before going on to Blackfriars, Illicit Still, The Stag, McGinty’s, Brewdog Flagship and 6D North. Those attending should be on the lookout for perks along the way.

 On the Saturday, the Outdoor Stage at The Roof Garden atop St Nicholas will come to life, with music from lunchtime to early evening including performances from Empty Sounds, The Harmonica Movement, The Popping Candies, The 101 and Best Girl Athlete. Also on the outdoor stage will be festival act HQFU, performing an outdoor set in addition to her Lemon Tree Late gig.

 Relaxed, intimate Brunch Sessions will take place at the Acoustic Stage at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, with performances from Scottish alternative band Kid Canaveral on Saturday and local alt-folk musician Rick Redbeard on Sunday.

 On Sunday September 25 at the Engage Stage at The Lemon Tree there will be a Panel Discussion led by festival artists and music industry experts. The topic of discussion will be Phenomenal Women – with participants encouraged to share their sources of inspiration, discuss women and success, and talk about what’s ahead for the next generation of women in the music industry, and what organisations like APA can do to support young emerging female artists. The event is being presented in partnership with music hub 57 North and will be free but ticketed.

 APA Chief Executive Jane Spiers said: “Our True North Fringe lineup perfectly complements the concert schedule across the festival and we’re delighted to be offering such a varied range of performances. Our Fringe sessions have a particular focus on singer-songwriters, with a series of relaxed, intimate gigs in such wonderful settings as the Maritime Museum and Roof Garden. We’ve really built on the success of last year’s inaugural True North and this year’s festival promises to take the city by storm.

 “We’re delving deeper with our panel discussion and songwriting masterclass to really explore and appreciate the influences of women in music and the role of music in everyday life. Our workshop with the incredibly talented Fiona Bevan is a fantastic chance for aspiring songwriters, both local and from across the country, to pick up tips that could send them on their way to becoming the next big thing.

 “Here at APA we have so much experience in putting on concerts that make a great and lasting impression on our audiences – and My First Gig gives families the chance to let their little ones engage with music in the same way, in a safe, fun environment.

 “There are so many highlights across the festival and demand for tickets has been incredibly high, so I would urge people to book now for both True North and Fringe events, to avoid being disappointed.”

 Hotel deals are available across the festival Thursday to Sunday with the purchase of any True North ticket or pass. For more information on tickets, accommodation and festival lineup, visit

 The full festival lineup includes an opening concert at HMT on Thursday September 22 from iconic soulstress and Brit Award-nominee Laura Mvula. Former Pulp and Longpigs member Richard Hawley will take over HMT on the Friday evening, while Mercury award-nominated King Creosote plays the Tivoli Theatre on the Saturday. On Sunday HMT will play host to a special Kate Bush celebration concert entitled Running Up That Hill - featuring a bill of top contemporary talent paying tribute to one of the most iconic songwriters and performers of our time.

 This year’s festival is supported by EventScotland, a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

 Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting True North for the first time this year. Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events and the festival is great boost for Aberdeen, giving visitors the chance to see top-class, internationally renowned acts alongside local talent. With Fringe activities ranging from songwriting workshops to showcases, children’s gigs and outdoor performances, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.”

 Tickets for My First Gig are on sale at and (01224) 641122 from today (Weds August 3). Tickets for further True North Fringe events will go on sale in the coming weeks, and tickets are required for all events except Brew North Sessions.

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