Packed programme for Aberdeen's True North Festival

Music fans will be in their element next month as the award-winning True North festival attracts the cream of contemporary music to some of the best venues across Aberdeen from September 20-23.

Thursday, 16th August 2018, 10:56 am
Updated Thursday, 16th August 2018, 11:03 am
My First Gig, aimed at 9-12 year-olds, returns to the festival at The Lemon Tree.

Festival organisers Aberdeen Performing Arts have announced a packed programme of Fringe performances, workshops and events.

Headline acts Mogwai, Glasvegas, Traceyanne and Danny, The Magic Numbers and Mull Historical Society have all been announced, as well as a very special tribute evening as Irish vocalist Camille O’Sullivan brings together a line-up of stars to perform the work of David Bowie.

The Lemon Tree will host an opening party on Thursday, September 20, which promises to kick off the festival in style, with a celebration of grassroots Scottish music featuring the talented and eclectic line-up of Zoe Graham, Solareye and Man of Moon.

The hugely popular ‘My First Gig’, designed for 9-12 year-olds, will be a highlight of the weekend, which also includes a three-day workshop for young musicians, as well as panel discussions on subjects covering issues such as mental health and wellbeing in the music industry and funding for artists.

Free performances from festival artists and local talent will also be taking place across the city centre, including a pop-up stage in the atrium at Marischal Square, under Kelpies artist Andy Scott’s spectacularly imposing Leopard sculpture, as well as performances in venues including Rye and Soda and SPIN Bar and Diner.

It is also expected that there will be some further ‘secret gigs’ announced via social media featuring festival artists in unusual or unexpected locations.

Organisers are delighted that the Belmont Filmhouse will be joining in on the fun for True North weekend, showing films that complement the festival line-up perfectly, including Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Wednesday, September 19, 7.30pm), a film scored by festival headliners Mogwai, and David Bowie’s film The Man Who Fell to Earth (Saturday, September 22, 1.35pm), as a nod to Camille O’Sullivan’s ‘Lady Stardust’ curated tribute evening to the iconic artist.

Ben Torrie, Aberdeen Performing Arts’ director of programming and creative projects, said: “We are so excited to be able to release the full programme for this year’s True North festival.

“The fringe programme is a hugely important part of what makes True North what it is with free performances across the city from both festival artists and the wealth of amazing local talent this city boasts.

“The festival will also inspire the next generation of music fans and musicians with workshop, panel discussions and the incomparable My First Gig.

“We can’t wait for the weekend now and look forward to welcoming music lovers from far and wide to the city.”

Fresh from playing at Belladrum Festival recently, Glasgow-based Zoe Graham is steadily building a reputation for herself on the Scottish contemporary music scene.

There is an impressive maturity and attention to detail in Zoe’s music that sets this accomplished young songwriter apart from her peers.

Dealing in grim fairytales and unlikely truths, at once home-grown and universal, Solareye is best known as the lyricist and principal songwriter with alternative hip-hop group Stanley Odd.

Having released his debut solo album, ‘All These People are Me’ in May, Solareye’s music tells stories, paints pictures, raps about rapping and pushes some boundaries along the way.

Critically acclaimed Edinburgh duo Man of Moon will also be joining in the opening night party. This duo’s textured, monochromatic sound belies their young age, and they have already been lauded as the “new kings of art rock”.

The Young Bands Workshop, which takes place over three days, will be tailored towards young musicians with an interest in forming bands and working in the music industry.

Led by accomplished performer and tutor, Graeme Smillie, young participants will learn about writing songs, setting up gigs and performances, and get a general overview of working in the music industry.

The workshop will end with a free sharing of work in The Lemon Tree on Saturday, September 23, at 3pm.

My First Gig takes place on Sunday, September 23, in The Lemon Tree Studio. This hugely popular event returns to True North by popular demand, and offers an opportunity for 9-12 year olds to experience their first ever live gig in a safe and supported, yet independent environment within The Lemon Tree.

The Aberdeen Performing Arts Creative Learning team will be on hand to supervise whilst children enjoy the music from The Harmonica Movement, with face-painting, glitter tattoos, refreshments and much more also on offer.

Parents can take the weight off and relax in the ‘adult crèche’ at the same venue with newspapers, games, teas, coffees and snacks all available.

On Saturday, there will be a one-hour panel discussion at His Majesty’s Theatre’s Education Studio at 6pm before Mogwai take to the stage, where industry experts and health professionals will discuss the topic of mental health and wellbeing for artists, musicians and people working in the music industry. This panel will be supported by Help Musicians UK and Choose Life.

Finally, on Sunday, there will be a second panel discussion featuring musicians, industry experts and funders, which will be a vital insight for anyone looking to start out in the music industry, and will reveal where to find out about funding opportunities, writing funding applications and supporting career development.

Tickets for the Launch Party, workshop and My First Gig are now on sale. Panel discussions are free but ticketed, with tickets also now available. These can be bought online at, in person at the box office at HMT or The Lemon Tree, or by phone on (01224) 641122.

Tickets for the film programme are available directly from the Belmont Filmhouse. All other Fringe events are free and unticketed.