A SHORT HISTORY OF AFF THE CUFF
Back in the late 1970s, Brian Petrie and Derek McLeod met in the Station Hotel in Carnoustie. Both had just acquired fiddles but didn’t know which end to stick under their chin. In stepped a young, fresh-faced, ginger-haired laddie from Muirdrum who agreed to teach these guys the basics. After a handful of lessons in Derek’s kitchen in Easthaven, the ginger lad had heard enough and disappeared into the Muirdrum sunset. Derek and Brian kept going and invited Mike Filmer (guitar) and Alan Kerr (vocals) to rehearse in Brian’s living room. ‘Bindertwine Bothy Band’ was born! The first and last gig was in Wormit Bowling Club in the very early 80s.
Sessions then moved to the Carlogie Hotel with a steady flow of musicians and singers joining and leaving. Derek buggered off for a while and ‘A Parcel of Rogues’ was born. Brian, Mike, Larry McCabe and Eric – whose surname escapes me! Three gigs and one botched recording session later, it was back to Mike and Brian with the return of Derek (confusing? – it gets worse!) now every week at the Almondbank Hotel in Carnoustie. Howard Evans (guitar and vocals) and Mel Ross (moothie) soon joined and the place was jumping for a good few years. ‘Shoot the Craw’ was born! In came Mel’s son on drums and Kenny Irons on bass. After a few gigs, Mike and Brian headed off to the pub and club circuit as a duo.
Meanwhile the session in the Almondbank grew and grew. Howard, Mel and Derek were joined (in no particular order) by Big Pete on flute and Irish pipes, Wee Pete on flute and whistles, Bob Doig on guitar and a familiar ginger, but now balding, fiddler from Muirdrum, who thought he’d seen the last of us. They were joined by Big Andy on guitar, Heather on flute and Lesley on bodhran. Along came Jim Duke on vocals with Mac Nicoll on guitar and more vocals with his then wife Marianne on squeeze box. A tight squeeze in a wee pub!! Neil Beattie arrived with bodhran (3 bodhrans now – what joy!!) and the occasional Borders ditty, with Dod Stewart squeezing in now and again.
By this time, Brian had returned on mandolin and the odd vocal (very odd sometimes!) ‘AFF THE CUFF’ was born when some of the session began doing gigs. Since the late 90s further changes have occurred. Big Pete left, Derek left, Heather left, Lesley left, Mel left, Mac and Marianne left. By the turn of the century there was Jim, Bob, Brian, Ian, Andy, Neil and sometimes Wee Pete. 2004 brought about another change of venue when the Almondbank closed its doors and the session moved back to the Carlogie bringing another new member – Andy Davis on pipes, whistles, bodhran (joy!) and vocals. The Carlogie closed, Big Andy departed and the session moved to its current location, The Aboukir Hotel. Ken Johnston, recently thrown out of England, joined on guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjolin and vocals. Since then members of the session have continued gigging regularly throughout Scotland and have kept up the Cuffie tradition of closing hotels and pubs all over Scotland from Montrose to Musselburgh!