Local Events


Local author, Graham Smith, turns to crime!

Graham Smith at workGraham Smith has been hard at work writing two new crime fiction books. Mark Smith (no relation!) popped in to have a word about his forthcoming book launch this Thursday, 19th March in Waterstones, Carlisle. You can hear the interview during Mark’s Wednesday Drivetime show this week.

After a long day in the office in The Mill hotel and wedding venue, there’s nothing Graham likes better than to relax with his laptop in the lounge of the Smith family home near Kirkpatrick Fleming and write crime fiction.

“The telly might be on”, says Graham, “but my mind is in another world”. You could call it escapism but for Graham it’s become a way of life, since he took up writing as a hobby in 2010. “I just had the stories inside me”, he explained, “and after a few false starts, I started to get something a publisher thought worthy of being published”.

His interest in crime fiction began as an avid reader, then progressed to writing reviews for CrimeSquad.com, a highly popular website for the genre. He’s well connected across a wide spectrum – friends with best-selling NY Times authors as well as up and coming unknown writers. Chatting with some big names in the field has given him confidence to get going; “Get it written then get it right” has become is his maxim.

‘Snatched from Home’ is a story of middle-class parents Victoria and Nicholas Foulkes, who’s children are kidnapped against Nicholas’ gambling debts. They don’t have any money, so turn to crime as a way to raise the ransom. Recently bereaved DI Harry Evans is fighting against enforced retirement and his replacement is waiting in the wings. If he must leave the police then he wants one last big case before he goes, so in a race against time Victoria and Nicholas try to evade the police and collect a ransom fund. The kidnappers have threatened to amputate their children’s limbs with an oxy-acetylene torch if they don’t pay up on time. Can they save their children before time runs out? Read the book to find out!

His other recent book, Major Crimes Team vol 1, is already out now, and follows the wider activities of DI Harry Evans and his Cumbria based squad in and around Carlisle and the Lakes.

He has more novels and drafts in the pipeline, including a sequel to Snatched from Home and a brand new series based in Utah, featuring a Glaswegian bouncer who ends up chasing after a serial killer.

Graham draws inspiration from local characters and colleagues around Gretna Green and Kirkpatrick Fleming, but assured me that all his actual characters are fictional!

Published by Caffeine Nights, both books will be available at the launch of Snatched from Home this Thursday in Waterstones, Carlisle at 6.30pm. He’ll also be signing his books in Dumfries Waterstones on Saturday 21st March from 12-2pm.


A further weekend of informal public consultation is taking place on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September at Moat Brae, George Street, Dumfries from 12 noon to 4pm.
Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the ‘Birthplace of Peter Pan’ is welcome to visit to see the latest proposals for the house and its ‘enchanted’ garden.
The heritage site at Moat Brae is due to open as an international visitor attraction and centre for children’s literature and storytelling in 2017, having been saved from demolition in 2009.

The open days have been running since early Spring, giving local people and tourists of all ages opportunities to see ‘behind the scenes’ at a significant stage in the revival of this important building. Visitors are encouraged to look around the house to see what has been
achieved and to find out about its history through the ages: as a grand family home in Georgian times; the inspirational Victorian childhood playground of world-renowned playwright JM Barrie; a C20th private nursing home and, latterly, as a derelict and decaying
building which was saved from demolition by the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust.

Dame Barbara Kelly, Chairman of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust said: “Over 1,200 people have already taken part in our informal consultation process on site, contributing their ideas, expertise and suggestions. There has been overwhelming support for our proposals and we hope that many more people will join us to find out for themselves about the plans we have to create a fabulous new visitor attraction for the town and the region.”

For more information about the tours visit www.peterpanmoatbrae.org

Hit The Road Tour – Jacob & Rory Green, Lewis Capaldi and Zoe Bestel

Hit The Road are back in Dumfries again, this time at the Brigend Theatre next Friday (26th September).
Local lass Zoë Bestel – Singer/Songwriter will be appearing, along with Jacob & Rory Green from Lochaber and Lewis Capaldi from West Lothian.

Hit The Road is a youth music project created by Glasgow’s Scottish Music Centre providing young musicians aged 14-19 years old the opportunity to learn about the live industry before performing on a professionally managed tour across Scotland.The project is funded by Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative (YMI) and The Big Lottery Fund. Former success stories include Model Aeroplanes, Eilidh Hadden and The Mermaids. The acts have recently completed pre-production with Davie Scott (The Pearlfishers, BMX Bandits) and his team of tutors in Glasgow and are looking forward to getting out on tour.
They will also visit The Mash House in Edinburgh on the 27th September and Sugar & Spice in Fort William on the 28th September.

You can get tickets for the Dumfries gig via this link (FREE until Monday 21st September!):

Zoe Bestel

Zoe Bestel


A three dimensional portrayal of Wigtown’s buildings, landscape and people is being created for the town’s international book festival.

The colourful project, called Wee Wigtown, is being carried out by Anupa Gardner, who has been awarded the Spring Fling x Wigtown Book Festival Residency 2014/15. The “town-within-a-town” will consist of 11 large panels, up to 2.5m wide, which festivalgoers can walk between to gradually discover more about the area.Anupa said: “It shows the buildings and streets, the cherry trees, the blue hills, the harbour and all the other things which make Wigtown so special. It has been created using recycled materials donated by residents, and it even incorporates plants and earth from the town.“It has a very playful element and I hope people will have fun walking between the panels and discovering all sorts of different places and features.“We will also be playing recordings of local people talking about what makes Wigtown so special to them – the things and places they value like the County Buildings and the Martyr’s Stake.”Visitors will be able to add to the work by writing down what Wigtown means to them and having their words incorporated into the panels.Based in Edinburgh but originally from India, Anupa describes her work as a response to her surroundings which comes from her interest in people’s stories and their relationships with places. The huge portrait will be displayed in the town’s Bowling Pavilion during the festival and Anupa will be on hand to talk to visitors.

Adrian Turpin, Director of Wigtown Book Festival, said: “We loved the idea behind Anupa’s proposal to create a portrayal of Wigtown using contributions from local people and festival goers.

“Wigtown Book Festival is very much rooted within the community and Anupa’s model will reflect this. We’re also delighted to be working so closely with Spring Fling again for the sixth time.”

Previous residents have included Astrid Jaekel, papercut artist; Deirdre Nelson, textile artist; and Joanne Kaar, grass weaver and artist. The residency has gathered momentum as the book festival and Spring Fling, which is Scotland’s premier contemporary visual art and craft open studios event, continue to grow. This year the residency attracted 55 applicants from across the world.Leah Black, Director of Spring Fling said: “Anupa’s work is a real delight and this project is very different from anything we’ve seen in Wigtown before.“As well as taking part in the book festival she will also have studio space at next year’s Spring Fling so will have a chance to engage with even more visitors.”

Several other Spring Fling artists are taking part in this year’s book festival:

  • Photographers Morag Paterson and Ted Leeming will talk about their project and book Zero Footprint. This involved taking photos from precisely the same spot in their hillside studio over the space of four years.
  • Printmaker Lisa Hooper will talk about her journey from career conservationist to celebrated bird artist, using images and vignettes from her new book, First Impressions.
  • Helen Ryman will encourage others help her in her mission to paint the festival’s largest oil painting.
  • Children aged 7–11 year are invited to turn their stories and illustrations into magical trinkets in a workshop with jeweller Joanne Garner.
  • Ailsa Black will run an illustration and card-making workshop.

Last year’s artist in residence, Astrid Jaekel, is also coming back to Wigtown Book Festival 2014. Her WigtownPeep Boards project will match each bookshop in Scotland’s National Book Town with an international book town.Anupa Gardner 03


PennyHumphreysEmergence is the first showcase of creative works by an illustrator and two photographers who are now making the time to revisit a number of creative techniques and skills that fired their imaginations in the first place.

Having spent a considerable number of years as college lecturers the notion of exhibiting their own works was well overdue and the formation of the AMO3BA collective has allowed them to prepare a series of works, most of which are connected by the theme of landscape.

Penny Humphreys has primarily worked in pencil, venturing into acrylics for this series of vibrant, stylised landscapes that convey the changing light and seasonal colours that reflect the natural ambience and character of the Solway coast.

Ricky Nolan and Alan Bennington’s landscape photography share similarities in terms of mood and tone but the techniques that created the final images are significantly different. The photographic images have been created from a range of film and digital medias in darkrooms and digital suites, through hand-colouring and handmade hybrids. All prints were then prepared on museum quality archive papers.

The exhibition will run at The Art Room within The Old School, Brooke Street, Dumfries from Saturday 20th September – Saturday 11th October 2014, including an opening celebration on the first day from 12 – 2pm when you will have the chance to meet the artists. All welcome!

Accoustic Nights Continue At Kings

Summer Acoustic Series in Kings continues this week with accomplished local musicians, Darcy DaSilva and Roy Marchbank, both from Moniaive. They are full time musicians, Darcy offering personal tuition and Roy writing music for stage and screen.

Darcy DaSilva and Roy Marchbank began collaborating in 2013, captivating audiences across the UK.

Roy Marchbank is a virtuoso session guitarist who has toured and recorded internationally over twenty years for some of the best in the industry. His unique celtic fusion compositions and playing technique have brought him accolades from the likes of Dweezil Zappa Guthrie Govan and James Byrd. If you are a fan of serious guitar playing this is not to be missed.

Darcy DaSilva is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, specialising in piano. Her compositions are poetic and sensitive. Being a classically trained pianist, she possesses stark musicality with an exceptional ability to move people.

Mark Smith, from Kings said, “We’ve been enjoying a great season of marvellous performances from young artists this year, at the beginning of their journey, but with Darcy and Roy, we look forward to two seasoned musicians, with a great deal of experience and maturity behind them. If you enjoy good live music, this event is one you simply can’t afford to miss!”.

The event is free and open to all. Saturday 23rd August from 7.30pmdarcy and roy


Kings Coffee & Books is about to embark on another season of Saturday night acoustic sessions in Kings Coffee and Books, running with a programme of events starting this Friday through to September.

“This will actually be our fourth year of providing a stage to up and coming musicians in the centre of Dumfries. This year we’re especially focussing on some fresh young talent, and someone who has been creating quite a stir, 16 year old Emma McNeill, has the place of being our first-on, this coming Saturday, 19th July, from 7.30pm”, says Mark Smith, who is responsible for setting up the sessions in the popular town centre coffee shop.

“Kings has proved to be an excellent venue for acoustic events, providing a unique environment – chilled out audiences, enjoying great music, with some of the best coffee and tea to boot! Not only that, but it’s available for all ages – a lovely setting to bring the whole family”, Mark went on to explain.

In her very first year Emma won admiration from many other artists, music professionals, recorders and producers – as well as playing at numerous events, including The Wickerman Festival. She has the ‘voice of an angel,’ and ‘a stage presence that most experienced musicians would envy’ are some of the things said about her. She appeared performing live on Alive 107.3’s Thursday Night Showcase which caused a stream of texts, calls and emails to the station!

There’s no charge for the event, although a ‘busker’s bucket’ will be there, for people to show their appreciation, if they wish.

People can come and go, from 7.30pm in Kings Coffee and Books, in Dumfries Town Centre (Next to the SPC, behind Burtons/Dorothy Perkins)emma mcneill


On the 19th and 20th of July Dumfries town centre will become the stage for an ambitious seven stage promenade theatre event called life,love & Liberty. The event was first held in 2012 to celebrate the life of Robert Burns. Excellent reviews and a high level of audience satisfaction have encouraged a repeat performance of the production to be staged again next week. Life, Love &Liberty producer Sid Ambrose commented “that it would be more of the same combined with a few new twists, to entertain the Burns aficionados and Scottish history enthusiasts who were keen to see the theatre show return to the streets of Dumfries.

The most obvious differences for the audience will be the inclusion of more community groups in the performance and tweaks to the script, for example a red devil will make an appearance and young dancers from the Louise Mcvie dance school and Saint Michael’s theatre will weave their way along the promenade route keeping pace with the spectators. Sid also added that a new leading lady had recently been cast to play Jean Armour. Scottish actress Joanne McGuiness has among her credits starred in The Wee Man which was a Scottish gangster film depicting the life of real criminal Paul Ferris. When asked about her Jean Armour role Joanne was said to be delighted at the chance to play such an important historical character and was really looking forward to working with the community cast.

A new director has also been found after celebrated actor John Cairney stepped down from the role, John both directed and scripted the 2012 performance after being commissioned by Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival. John commented “at 83 l have decided to ease up on my workload and let some young blood have a crack at the director’s role”. The new director Gavin Paul is a familiar face to many following his portrayal of Burns during the 2012 Life, Love & Liberty performances, as well as his one man Burns Rough Cut show which aired at the 2013 Big Burns Supper. Gavin will both direct and star as the bard this summer.

In addition to the main promenade performances which will take place on the 19th and 20th July, life, Love & Liberty will act as an umbrella for a number of other Burns related events taking place in Dumfries that week. These include ,ten minute Burns suppers in the Globe inn, an exhibition of Burns correspondence by Dumfries Burns club and a Burns commemorative service at the Brow Well.

Co-Producer Ali Donowho explained “Out with the Burns supper season the 21st of July is of international significance to Burns enthusiasts, this was his death date in 1796 and Dumfries receives an influx of people every July who wish to pay their respects. Life, Love & Liberty will act as a focal point and signpost people to related events taking over July.”

Life Love & Liberty will feature over 40 actors, singers and musicians who will lead the audience back in time to the turbulent 1790’s when revolution threatened Europe and Burns was a young excise man, finding himself inspired to write some of the world’s best known love songs by the fair ladies of Dumfries. This is a celebration of the life of Burns in the town where he died.

For further information on this exciting and unique event please visit www.aburnspageant.co.uk . Tickets will be on sale from Mid steeple box office priced at £8.00 for adults and those over 14, under 14,s can attend free of charge provided they are accompanied by an adult contact Midsteeple box office www.dgboxoffice.co.uk for information on how to purchase tickets.


Punchy, dark, dramatic and sexual – Blood Orange explores the efforts of Far Right extremists to infect rural Scotland.


The play draws on the bitterness and upheaval caused by last year’s SDL (Scottish Defence League) march in Dumfries.


Writer Graham Main confronts Edinburgh Fringe audiences with a tale from the deepest shadows of the club scene. It follows attempts by extremists to kick start a cycle of racist hatred they hope will end in murder.


Main, who runs the Electric Theatre Workshop in Dumfries, was among the many local people who turned out to oppose the SDL when it sent busloads of supporters to the rural south west town last year.


The experience made him want to raise awareness about how the rise of the Far Right in Scotland is spreading from the major cities to the countryside.


He said: “The arrival of the SDL brought a lot of people out who were determined to show they had no place in our community.


“But it really made me realise how complacent we are about the rise of the Far Right in all its many forms and the ways in which neo-Nazis work to recruit young people by stirring up hate and seducing them into their warped ideologies.


“We all too often think of the rise of the Far Right as something that’s largely a problem for the major cities, but it’s becoming more and more clear that this isn’t the case. So we are doing all we can, nationally and internationally, to raise awareness of what is happening.


“Perhaps most frightening of all is that wherever it is performed, Blood Orange has struck a chord with younger members of the audience precisely because the themes, characters and storyline genuinely reflect their world.”


The plot follows skinhead attempts to recruit young people in Dumfries in the run-up to an anti-Islamic demonstration.


It focuses on one man’s fall from grace when he is urged to take revenge after being persuaded that the arrival of Asian shopkeeper’s caused his family’s business to collapse – prompting his mother’s suicide.


Blood Orange has already enjoyed international success, having recently been staged as part of the 13th Prague Fringe Festival.


Between 1-21 August it will be at Summerhall, one of the most vibrant Edinburgh Fringe venues.  To book seats go to festival14.summerhall.co.uk/event/blood-orange


The Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre will be opening its doors to two week-long summer film schools for 9 to 18 year olds over the school holidays.

During the one-week video production course, Scene1Take1 Summer School, students will learn the whole process of video production from the initial idea through to a final film. Over five days, the course shows students how to plan, storyboard, script and then shoot and edit their own short film.

The first part of the process is to learn the basics of production – developing an idea, planning, script writing, location finding and storyboarding. Once students are ready to start filming they work in small groups using the video cameras to shoot their production on location. Once the film is ‘in the can’ students edit their masterpiece which will be shown to family and friends on the last day of the summer school. The programme is very much ‘hands on’.

There are two summer schools running over the summer. The first takes place on Monday 14 to Friday 18 July, and later in school holidays from Monday 11 to Friday 15 August, 10am to3.30pm each day and costs £30 per student, or £50 for two places.

To take advantage of the £50 offer, the two places must be booked at the same time. It can be two friends/siblings booking on the same week, or it could be the same child booked on the July and August summer schools. Students are required to bring their own lunch and drinks/snack for the day.

The summer school is led by Lee Vann-Wakelin, a trained professional with a passion for crafting moving image.  In his spare time he puts all of his efforts into helping engage, train and advance local film makers through his weekly youth film making club Scene1take1.

To book a place contact the RBC Film Theatre Box Office on 01387 264 808, or email [email protected] to request an application form.