City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Breakfast with Burns

By Irene Brown - Posted on 04 August 2009

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John Sampson and Stewart Hanratty (musicians/singers), John Cairney (actor), Alicia Devine (actor)

On Saturday 1 August, Henderson's famous vegetarian restaurant (known affectionately to locals as Trendy Hendy's) imaginatively offered a taster (please excuse the pun!) of their Fringe Show, Breakfast with Burns.

The idea of good food, chat and music in the company of chums is just too tempting! I have to confess to being chums with John and Stewart - of Cafe Cadenza fame - so knew for sure the music would be good.

If you weren't awake after a good helping of porridge, berries, scrambled eggs, hash browns, juice and coffee, then you certainly were after John Sampson's wake up call on his galloping hunting horn.

The audience was then taken back to the 18th century, aided by the tapestry screens at the bar's entrance, with the apt playing of an old tavern song before being treated to a variety of tunes whose words were either by Burns himself or whose music was of Burns' time.

Stewart Hanratty magically managed to make his guitar sound like a harpsichord in the James Oswald piece. John Cairney, the stylish MC as well as performer for the event.

He then introduced Alicia Devine who mingled familiarly through the breakfast audience re-enacting the imagined girlie talk in Mauchline's bleaching green, and first encounter between Jean Armour and the man she was to marry, Robert Burns. Her pinnie and bonnet replaced with a shawl, she adroitly became Nancy McLehose movingly reading a letter from the widowed Jean Burns.

When Cairney himself took stage, he engaged the audience with a relaxed, informal manner as he spoke of Burns and how he was "re invigorated by him each time". That's pretty good going after 50 years.

Cairney recited Epistle to a Young Friend, Address to the Unco Guid and part of Welcome tae a Bastart Wean as part of his conversation on Burns in this year of the 250th anniversary of the Bard's birth.

This is an event worth attending for its variety, entertainment and guid grub! Henderson's artist in residence, Paul Martin, also has works on display of Burns.

About the performers

John Sampson first learned to play the trumpet in Salvation Army band. After his ‘defection' he studied the recorder and over the years has added to his repertoire posthorns, crumhorns, pipes and whistles. He has performed alongside Phil Cunningham, Anne Lorne Gillies and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and is a musician and performer of astonishing versatility and virtuosity.

They also have another show 'Burns, Before and Beyond', it explores the music of Burns, his
influences and legacy, and it is on at 10.30 (10.00 for breakfast) on
the 29th August and from the 31st August until the 5th September.

Stewart Hanratty, singer, guitar player and songwriter, is a long-time collaborator with John Sampson, who has a wide ranging experience of musical genres from rock, pop, folk and blues to jazz and latin. He also works regularly in theatre.

John Cairney, after appearing in a brief television sketch in 1959, the year of the Bard's bi centenary, as the poet Burns, went on to develop a one-man play on the poet which premiered at the Traverse in 1965 and has since been performed the world over. He says he was inspired by a railway poster of the time (currently on display at Henderson's) where he saw the strong resemblance between himself and our image of Burns.

Alicia Devine has almost 20 years of experience as a performing stage and screen star in the UK and abroad. She gives a one women performance exploring Robert Burns through the eyes of the women who loved him.

Show times

John Cairney - Coffee with Cairney
3-7, 10-14 & 17-21 August, 10.30am - 11.30am

Alicia Devine - Loving Burns
8th, 15, 22 & 24-28 August at 10.30am - 11.15am