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BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Winners Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton Play The Atkinson, Southport

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton will play The Atkinson, Southport on Friday 6 April.

The first gig of their new album launch tour, the duo can’t wait to play the venue, Ross said: “We absolutely love being on tour, there’s nothing better for us than playing to a live audience. We’re really looking forward to playing The Atkinson and seeing fans old and new there on the 6th April!”

Following on from the success of their debut album ‘Symbiosis’ Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton will release their second album ‘Symbiosis II’ this spring. Winners of the best duo category at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2017 and nominees for the same award in 2018, Ross and Ali have been busy in the studio creating an album full of new and original material.

Packed full of their own compositions, partly commissioned by some of their fans, Ross and Ali have welcomed lots of their fellow friends and musicians to record on this album.

Revolving around skilfully played guitar, cittern, whistles and bagpipes, which are the bedrock of the award-winning duo, the arrangements also include a full string section, the extensive use of synthesisers, drum kit and bodhran. The result is a much bigger sound with more adventurous and epic arrangements.

Ross and Ali met in the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band when they were 12 years old. The boys were guided by one of the most influential pipers in the last 30 years Gordon Duncan. Gordon instilled a great passion in them for playing pipes with other instruments and they have gone on to play in many leading Scottish bands including Treacherous Orchestra, Old Blind Dogs, Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Shooglenifty, Capercaillie.

Ross Ainslie is one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers, playing pipes, whistles and cittern. He is renowned for his highly acclaimed solo material, and as a skilled performer and prolific collaborator who performs regularly with bands Treacherous Orchestra (of which he is a founding member), Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Ali Hutton, Jarlath Henderson, Charlie Mckerron, India Alba and has performed with Kate Rusby, Blue Rose Code, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Capercaillie, Shooglenifty, Carl Barat, Papon, Karsh Kale, Flook, Breabach, Soumik Datta, Tim Edey, Patsy Reid, Hamish Napier.

Ali Hutton, from Methven in Perthshire, was inspired at the age of 7 to take up the bagpipes and rose through the ranks of the world-famous Vale of Atholl Pipe Band. It was there that he was taught, alongside Ross Ainslie, by the late, great Gordon Duncan. He has since gone on to become a successful multi-instrumentalist on the Scottish music scene. Ali has performed, and worked alongside some of the most respected musicians, and bands on the scene, such as Capercaillie, Dougie Maclean, Carlos Nunez, Deaf Shepherd, Clueless, Steve Forman, Salsa Celtica, and Shooglenifty to name but a few. During his apprentice years as a professional musician he was fortunate enough to become a member of the multi award winning bands Brolum and Back of the Moon. He toured with them for several years across Europe and North America. Ali has also found himself producing some of the most well received Scottish Folk albums in recent years. Ali is currently a member of Treacherous Orchestra, Old Blind Dogs, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson band, and the new duo, cleverly named, Ross and Ali.


Ross Ainslie – Highland Pipes, Whistles, Cittern and Banjo
Ali Hutton – Highland Pipes, Whistles, Acoustic and Tenor Guitar Duncan Lyall – Moog and Synth
Martin O’Neill – Bodhran and Drums
Steven Byrnes – Drums
Patsy Reid – All Strings
Gus Sicard – Snare Drum

Produced by Andrea Gobbi, Ali Hutton and Ross Ainslie
Engineered by Andrea Gobbi at GloWorm Recordings and Carrier Waves Mixed by Andrea Gobbi at GloWorm Recordings and Carrier Waves Additional Engineering by Barry Reid and Keir Long
String Arrangements by Patsy Reid
String Recordings by Jamie Pryke
Mastered by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound Studios
Design and Photos by Somhairle Macdonald.

Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton perform at The Atkinson, Southport on  Friday 6 April at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £14 and are available online at, by calling 01704 533333 or over the counter during opening hours. 

The Kings of Swing at The Atkinson this Spring

2018 sees King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys celebrate a remarkable 30 years on the road. More than the greatest jump, jive and swing band on the planet, they’ve become an institution and they perform at The Atkinson on Saturday 7 April at 7.30pm.

In their three decades, the band have delivered nearly 6500 performances in 21 countries, played on 36 radio shows and made 73 television appearances, including several on Blue Peter, The Teletubbies, as well as the Paradise Club series [where they were the house band], Challenge Anneka, The Gadget Show and on a prime time National Lottery advertisement – not to mention accompanying John Barrowman in a rendition of I Get A Kick Out Of You on Live And Kicking.

Rough, tough and always rocking, King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys have appeared at festivals, in concert and at clubs throughout the UK and Europe – and they still play the Birmingham Jazz Festival, where they have headlined for an unprecedented 14 years.

The band has also performed alongside B.B. King, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, Ray Charles, and toured with the actual Blues Brothers Band – the one from the movie.

Along the way, the band have recorded 11 albums for Big Bear Records, all distributed worldwide physically and online.

The band line up as King Pleasure [vocals and baritone saxophone], Boysey Battrum [alto and tenor saxophones], Bullmoose K Shirley [guitars], Mighty Matt Foundling [piano], Shark Van Schtoop [bass], and Gary ‘The Enforcer’ Barber [percussion].

Paul Jones on BBC Radio 2 called them “the hardest act to follow since the parting of The Red Sea”,

King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys comes to The Atkinson on Saturday 7 April  at 7.30pm. Tickets are £15.

For more information about The Atkinson’s programme  join the e-mailing list by visiting

Meet the Easter Bunny & Receive a Chocolate Treat!

This Easter join Marty MacDonald, Henrietta the Hen and Professor Pinky as they enter the Easter Bunny’s singing competition – but who will Fluffy think has got The Eggs Factor?

From the team behind Marty MacDonald’s Farm and Santa’s Christmas Wish comes the most chocolatey Easter show ever…

Marty MacDonald, Henrietta the Hen and Professor Pinky are all going to enter, but can’t choose which song to sing… can you help them practice and see if YOU have The Eggs Factor too?

The prize is an exciting visit to the hidden Chocolate Factory – and a special chocolate treat from the Easter Bunny himself!

Come and join the fun, songs and laughter down at the Chocolate Factory in…Easter Bunny’s Eggs Factor- then meet the Easter Bunny afterwards and receive a special Easter treat!

Songs include children’s favourites Old MacDonald Had A Farm, Wheels On The Bus, The Grand Old Duke Of York, The Hokey Cokey, I Am The Music Man, Jack And Jill, Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush and more!

Easter Bunny’s Eggs Factor comes to The Atkinson on Friday 30 March at 2pm. Tickets are 9.50 / £7.50 children / £30 family ticket.

This family show particularly suitable for 2-7 year olds and lasts for 40 minutes, followed by our popular meet, greet and treat with the Easter Bunny himself – includes a free Easter treat for every child.

A Great Little Place Becomes Part of The Atkinson Family

The Award-winning social enterprise A Great Little Place is opening a new café in The Atkinson.

From September A Great Little Place, run by Autism Initiatives, will take pride of place in its new home in the Lord Street venue that welcomes 500,000 visitors a year to its Museum, Galleries, Library, Theatre and Shop.

For The Atkinson it will mean working with an established local brand that is known for its high quality and value for money. We are able to work with A Great Little Place to maximise the programme with pre-show meals, themed events, festival food and more.

The two organisations have shared values and vision. They will be an extension of The Atkinson family and together we will be able to provide the best in quality to visitors.

Sue Yarnell, Manager of A Great Little Place said:


We’ve steadily been growing our reputation and customers from our first café in 2010, so moving to such a central and historic location is a fantastic development. It will provide even more opportunities for the people with autism we support in work placements.”

Emma Anderson, Director The Atkinson said: This is a really exciting partnership between two organisations who have a track record in working to improve lives in Sefton. A Great Little Place has a fantastic reputation and we are delighted to have them as part of our offer. They will be a massive asset to our visitors and will mean we can offer the very best food and beverage experience for day visitors, as well as increasing our capacity for pre-show meals and corporate events.”


This partnership is about more than just a café – its also about working together to improve the lives of people with autism and their families and by having the organisations together , new opportunities for training, work experience and training are going to be explored.

A Great Little Place will relinquish its lease on Houghton Street and staff will be relocated to the new town centre venue.

On Saturday 30 September at a special Coast themed Family Fun Day the actor, writer and producer Henry Normal (The Atkinson’s new patron) will officially open the cafe and the new Museum corridor that brings the story of the coast and all its creatures to life. 

Keep an eye out in local press and online at  or  for more information on the new partnership and the opening event

Bootle Schools Come Together to Celebrate Local History

A digital map of Bootle’s captivating history has been developed by pupils of Bootle schools.

Each of the schools focused on a specific aspect of local history and found out about the history of their schools and their connections with famous people; they discovered about mysterious buildings on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, as well as Johnson’s dye-works.

The pupils did their own research and investigations into their chosen area, taking part in ‘History Days’, outdoor visits and engaging with re-enactors who brought aspects of the history to life in the classroom and provided artefacts for the children to handle.  For many it was the first time that they had been able to visit The Atkinson.

The Atkinson has supported this project as part of the programme of activities linked to the museum development, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery.  This has enabled the schools to work with leading web designers Fuzzy Duck in creating the Bootle History Website – which means the schools are able to digitalise the map and add new important discoveries  all the time.

The Strand Partnership is a collaborative of 24 schools in South Sefton, who work together to improve the training and development of staff, programmes for pupils and to develop collaborative working across the sites.  

Every year the Strand Partnership schools come together to work on a project and this year we are delighted that it was with The Atkinson, who were able to help them develop this incredible  map of historical events and places for their local area. This new digital resource will be added to for years to come and act as an educational resource to teach local heritage in schools whilst helping to instil a real sense of pride of place in their home town. 

David Atkin – Strand Facilitator said:

Everyone agreed that the project was a great success, but we also agreed that it was just a start!  There was plenty of work left to do, much more research to undertake, many more things to be discovered!

The Strand Schools Council History Project, ‘Our Bootle History’ has engaged pupils and staff across South Sefton and created a very modern new resource which will benefit our schools forever.”

Emma Anderson, Director, The Atkinson said:

“This has been a fabulous project for us to be involved in. The schools have worked incredibly hard and have developed something very special and that they can be proud of and develop further. Bootle has such an interesting and varied history that it is important that local pupils learn about it and can feel proud of where they come from.”

The Bootle History Map is being launched on 6 July at a special event at Bootle Cricket Club for everyone who has worked and been involved in the project.

To see what the pupils discovered check out the digital map at

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