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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

The Mercenary Fiddler AKA Elsa Jean McTaggart

Elsa Jean McTaggart

Genre: Music

Venue: The Space at Symposium Hall


Low Down

“Five-star and ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award winner 2012, Scottish fiddler and singer/songwriter Elsa Jean McTaggart returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with her new show The Mercenary Fiddler. The show will feature well-known fiddle songs like The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Orange Blossom Special, River Dance, and Fairytale, plus some of Elsa’s original songs: Fiddle in the Tax Office, Phantom Fiddler, and many more! This is a high energy foot-stomping show for all ages that will have you singing, clapping along and dancing in your seats.”


This was a very pleasing hour in the middle of a bustling, noisy fringe.  Elsa Jean McTaggart is back in Edinburgh; indeed, she is back from overseas, with a partner, a new set, and plenty of witty banter inbetween Scottish, Irish and a few other folk tunes, including a bet with the Devil himself.

This family-friendly hour shows a fiddler at the height of her powers, but this performer, accompanied more than competently by her partner keyboardist, can also make us smile, laugh and be drawn into a bit of background to the folk songs she has chosen for us and plays (and yes, there are CDs for sale after the show!).

I would have liked to have seen more of the piano and a sharper percussion (delivered electronically). But that doesn’t in any way spoil a thoroughly enjoyable music set, which contains touching moments of personal story, laced with light-hearted banter about the songs, about Scotland and the reasons why the performer is back home. There is plenty of clapping along and McTaggart’s playing is a spectacle in itself – she is fast, playful and knows how to rock a folk tune. The repertoire ranges from Scottish to Irish with a hint of Spain thrown in for good measure. This enables the mood of the set to change and adds variety to the hour. The tendency is towards up-beat and upflifting, yet occasonally we are in more atmospheric places and I hope to see more of that variety in the future. Living overseas, and then coming home to your birthplace means you’ve collected stories and a few tunes along the way. This impressive gig hints at more to come. It’s a shortish hour at the Space and just the right medicine for an evening during August’s madness.

The audience clearly wanted more at the end, which is always a good sign! If folk music is your thing, then Scottish fiddler, songster and storyteller,  Elsa Jean McTaggart comes warmly recommended.