Bringing the nights to life in Letham with film and song

The Sinderins at Letham Nights 42
The Sinderins at Letham Nights 42

A Fife event series which has a proud history of hosting live music is celebrating a special milestone this weekend.

Letham Nights will be holding its 50th event at Letham Village Hall in Cupar on Saturday, combining a day of film and music and a guest appearance by the critically acclaimed, Mercury prize nominated Fife musician King Creosote.

Devon Sproule - hugely talented American singer-songwriter who has performed at Letham Nights. She appeared on Jools Holland in 2008.

Devon Sproule - hugely talented American singer-songwriter who has performed at Letham Nights. She appeared on Jools Holland in 2008.

It kicks off at 2.30pm with a screening of From Scotland With Love by community cinema Letham Lights.

The film features a soundtrack written by King Creosote.

At 4.30pm there will be a Q&A session with King Creosote and then there will be a break until 8pm, when the evening’s music gets going. First up to perform will be the Rag House Band – a ukelele collective who play a mixture of folk, blues and roots with amazing harmonies then it is over to King Creosote.

The show sold out within hours of being announced, but there are still tickets left for the Letham Lights film screening.

The Letham Nights team includes: Michael Farrell, Roy Campbell, Ron Montgomery, Mick Pritchard and Claire Heminsley with extra help from Anna Heminsley, Zoe Darbyshire and Janey Paterson.

The Letham Nights team includes: Michael Farrell, Roy Campbell, Ron Montgomery, Mick Pritchard and Claire Heminsley with extra help from Anna Heminsley, Zoe Darbyshire and Janey Paterson.

The Letham Nights music series was launched in 2008. Organiser Keith Taylor explained why it has become very popular: “As far as I am aware it is one of a kind and something for Fife to be quite proud of yet still remains a bit of a cult secret.

“It is run entirely by volunteers and not for profit,” he said.

“The journey of Letham Nights has demonstrated that even small villages in the middle of nowhere can put on genuinely high quality music and that by working over time to build an audience you can create quite a special atmosphere and a real sense of community.”

Michael Farrell, chairman of Letham Nights, said: “Letham Hall has a proud history of hosting live music. It was where Jimmy Shand played for years.

“The acoustics are fantastic and after having a few family parties there we realised that there was potential.

“We had a few connections so we just decided to give it a go and bring something a bit different to the hall.

“By starting up these events we would be bringing really high quality live music to our doorstep.”

Letham Nights holds six shows a year – around once every 6-8 weeks. Michael said there have been around 70 different acts which have performed at the events held so far.

“They include many local artists but what really took us by surprise when we started was just how many musicians contacted us looking for a stage to play live,” he said.

“We had offers from Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Manchester. Then came the international ones - Chicago, Melbourne, Calgary, Texas. We couldn’t believe it!”

But what have the stand out performances been?

Michael said: “It is so difficult to pick out the best ones because almost all the shows have been brilliant.

“But if you are making me choose my favourites I would have to say Devon Sproule and Dundee band Sinderins. We have also had some amazing support acts.

“We couldn’t be prouder of getting to 50 and we fully intend to keep it going and improving it.

“We now have another group of volunteers running a new community cinema, Letham Lights, and we are collaborating closely with them for this show.

“It certainly brings something different to the area and makes us a wee arts hub in a rural setting.” For more information visit www.lethamnights.org.

Film nights

Inspired by the success of Letham Nights, the new community cinema Letham Lights has been developed as a result of the Grow Your Own Cinema project.

The scheme, by Cinema for All and Voluntary Arts Scotland, was set up to encourage voluntary arts groups to put on their very own film events.

After attending a training day in Kirkcaldy, some of the group decided to diversify – and Letham Lights was formed.

Their first screening was a farming documentary, Addicted To Sheep, preceded by short films starring local children. Keith Taylor, chairman, said: “We have launched a spin off community cinema in the village bringing back the idea of film as something that unites a community rather than being consumed on your own in your living room.

“We have been supported by the arts group Cinema for All, which helps communities use film events to bring people together, to set up a fantastic cinema experience in the local hall.” The community cinema is also volunteer-run and not for profit.

“We are looking forward to many exciting collaborative projects. We already have plans to run special screenings for school groups, the elderly and hopefully even an outdoor screening in the woods.”

He added: “As part of the 50th celebration we’ll be showing the heart warming From Scotland With Love, which was commissioned in 2014 to link in with the Commonwealth Games.

“It was composed by sifting through thousands of hours of archive footage of every day life in Scotland from the 1920s to 1960s and then edited together to cover different themes.”