Rab Noakes looks forward to 50th anniversary of The Great Fife Roadshow

The Great Fife Roadshow in 1970
The Great Fife Roadshow in 1970

In 1970 a group of Fife-based musicians embarked on a rambunctious tour of Scotland that has gone down in folk music legend.

And those heady days of The Great Fife Road Show are being celebrated with a 50th anniversary show in January with all the surviving members taking part.

Among the group of young musicians were Maureen (Chalmers) Blyth, Davie Craig, Barbara Dickson, Noel Farrow, Cilla Fisher, Jim Herd, Jimmy Hutchison, Brian Miller, Davey Stewart, Artie Trezise and Rab Noakes who is still going strong, recording and playing live, 50 years later.

Rab says the seeds for the Road Show were born a year earlier in 1969.

“A group of us went to play at a gig in Queen’s University, Belfast,” he said, “young Davey Stewart had been asked by a few pals who he had there to put a show together.

“It was the first time a show of that ilk had been done. Then after that the late John Watt got involved and put together a wee tour of East Anglia and called it The Great Fife Road Show.

“Then in 1970 was when we did the big concert tour of 25 dates.

“We played town halls, village halls and art centres. We were quite ambitious in the size of places we picked but it went really well and we had a lovely time.

“It was going out with all my pals and we were all really interested in song. There was a lot of shared interest.

It was a marvellous time going all around the country. We even camped out occasionally!”

The tour, which included took the troupe from Dumfries to Ullapool playing shows which Rab says had been well constructed.

“There were solo bits and combinations as well, Barbara Dickson and I would do a bit together. Artie and Cilla would too and of course they would go on years later to do the Singing Kettle.

“People would move off into different areas but we would always come back to play the greatest hits. Everybody was very enthusiastic – the set list was always under construction!”

For Rab and may of the others, the tour was a stepping stone to further success.

“It sort of drew a few elements together and from a professional point of view it was an interesting time,” he said.

“We were all learning how to perform on a stage and we were all getting involved in the production side too, so that gave a wee insight into how all that goes.

“John Watt was the great driver in all of that. Most of us had been performing in folk clubs, this was expanding into something else.

“So I would say that it did have a positive effect on my career. Anything that’s a strong component that goes into something that lasts a long time is of value.”

Now the group get to do it all over again at the Lochgelly Theatre, a venue Rab says he knows well.

“We’ve been getting ready for the night and putting forward song suggestions.

“We chose Lochgelly because I launched my last album there and it’s a lovely venue with lovely people. It’s a great venue from the audience’s point of view and great to play.

“We’re trying to make it an event. It’ll be well constructed, but also open to a bit of improvisation!

“Everybody will be involved from the original line up except John of course, and Des Haldane who died far too young.

“Then there’s others who made their presence felt within the unit after 1970, like Brian Miller, who will also be appearing.

“I’m really looking forward to it.”

• The Great Fife Road Show will take place at the Lochgelly Theatre on Saturday, January 18 at 8pm.

Tickets are available at www.onfife.com.