Performing Tam o’ Shanter

The lure and challenge of performing Tam o’ Shanter was far too enticing to  ignore. It’s the biggie, the epic masterpiece, all 224 lines of it, that Burns himself loved more than anything else he wrote.  On Burns Night I had a chance to tackle it.  Because of the sheer length of the poem it was a daunting prospect. In front of 180 people at Edinburgh’s Summerhall, at a sold out Neu! Reekie! Burns Night special, I gave it my best shot.

The footage was filmed and edited by Summerhall TV and features Craig Lithgow (guitar) and David Macfarlane (fiddle) from the band Emelle, accompanying the words.  I’d hoped it would be a flawless rendition but it didn’t quite work out that way.  Two mistakes ain’t too bad though. (Burnsians will spot a wrong word in the famous opening line.  Ouch. There is another one further on.)  That apart this is Tam o’ Shanter performed with as much gusto as I could manage on the night.  It’s such a great poem you can’t go far wrong. Enjoy.

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  1. Patrick S Hogg says:

    Love the style and pitch Kevin. Different atmosphere from most renditions at traditional suppers, which is a breath of fresh air as it should never be done the same everytime.The 8 syllable rhyming couplet is perfect for the performer to mimic horse gallop speed, a canter trot pace and a STOP, pause when it is essential for atmosphere, given it is the most cinematic piece ever written in Scots.It does venture into the darker psyche of man’s wreckless drunken behaviour and the gory supertitions of the time, the worst excesses of horrendous fears & terrors that could be imagined as Tam is leering right into Hell before his very een! Weel dun Kevin……….

  2. Great paper fantastic refreshing and honest reporting alba gu brath john mcnaul gallagher

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