Songwriting @ Girvan

PLEASE NOTE: Online versions of our competitions are not currently scheduled during our Online festival.  That situation may change or the competitions may be scheduled later in the year. 

Song writing has always been a big part of Girvan Folk Festival. Song writing, in a traditional style, has been actively encouraged over the years and some significant songs have emerged at the festival. A songwriter’s cup has been competed for and the list of names associated with that cup makes interesting reading.

Among our guests there are quite a few people who have written songs, even though we might not regard them primarily as writers. Some have written songs which have entered the tradition and the repertoire of a lot of singers. 


Entrants to the competition will be expected to be participants of the Festival, which will typically mean that they will be ticket holders for one or more events.  Access to specific mentoring opportunities will generally be restricted to full participants of the festival, although the overall aim is to encourage traditional style song writing and each request will be considered on an individual basis particularly if any entrant for any reason is not able to fully participate over the weekend.

What do we mean by ‘traditional style’ song writing?  There are no extensive rules or tight definitions but perhaps one over riding characteristic of the kind of songs that we think match the ethos of the festival, is that the songs could easily be mistaken for being traditional. Quite a few songs from well-known writers have received this ‘accolade’ and usually consider it a compliment.

Many songs have emerged at Girvan over the years. These include:  The Last Leviathan (Andy Barnes), As I Walked On the Road (Jim Brown), Doomsday in the Afternoon (John McCreadie), Lassie o’ the Morning (Jack Foley) – and one task we are taking on is to get a decent list of writers and songs together.  

Some of our recent Festival Guests who have written a significant number of songs include; James Patterson, Sandra Kerr, Dick Gaughan, Colum Sands, Dave Goulder and Mike Vass.  Every other person, including singers and musicians we view as being very traditional in nature, will almost without exception sing songs or play tunes written in the last 50 years. New writing is important and the reason why Girvan encourages it.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that every song is a folk song – but we are sensible people and we know what we mean!