Edinburgh’s Guid Crack Storytelling sessions began at the Waverley in the late eighties. That was when the Scottish International Storytelling Festival was also starting up, and there was a need for a spot where local talent could develop and shine.
The Waverley, in Edinburgh’s St Mary Street, was already a famous folk venue. Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty performed there as did may rising stars of Scotland’s cultural scene, such as Dolina MacLennan. The key was the hospitable welcome of Waverley proprietor Ean Walker.
The Walker family had been associated with the Waverley for four generations, reaching back to a time when St Mary’s Street was a vibrant local community. Ean’s style was distinctly traditional, and customers were sometimes surprised to be courteously but firmly ushered out for ‘using bad language’ or a mobile phone.
The storytelling crowd seemed to appeal to Ean’s instincts: ‘not big drinkers’ he would say, ‘but nice people’. During later years of illness, it was known for Ean to arrange from his hospital bed for the pub to be opened especially for Guid Crack.
But sadly in December 2015, Ean Walker passed on in his late eighties. Another great Old Town character lost.
The pub was closed for an extended period, but Guid Crack received a warm welcome at the excellent Circus Café, now Fig Tree Bistro, across the road. That relationship will continue with special events and pre-session meals, but on Friday 27th April, Guid Crack will return to upstairs at The Waverley for its monthly storytelling sessions. The sumer season and first session on Fri 27 Apr is launched as part of TradFest, and will continue on the last Friday of each month through to October as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.
The guest storyteller for the first returned session will be the fantastic Ron Fairweather, with musical support from Fergus McNicol. As ever, the main business will be contributions ‘from the floor’, and it will be hosted by Donald Smith, who has been involved as a storyteller and organiser since Guid Crack began, who states:
‘It’s great to see the Waverley so beautifully enhanced and conserved, and to be able to revive these sessions in their spiritual home. It's also very important to keep the Netherbow area alive as a place of culture and community.’
Fri 27 Apr | 7.30pm (2hrs 30) | The Waverley Bar, St Mary's Street, Edinburgh