Scottish Traditional Singer

Barbara was brought up in Fife, learning Scottish and Irish songs from her grandparents . She was delighted to meet up with many other traditional singers and musicians when she left home to become a skint student at Dundee Uni and was persuaded to start singing for her supper. At that time she became a founder member of the band Coelbeg.

Barbara’s middle name is Alice. As a bairn she refused to learn the deliberately misnamed “Hard Hearted Barbara Alice” from her Fife granny and to this day she has never sung ‘Barbara Allen”- nor that other “Barbara” one by the Beach Boys. She still sings many of her grandparents’ songs though and is delighted to have had numerous, recent opportunities to air them despite a 20 year break from performing during which she had 3 bairns and pursued a medical career. She did get a telling-off from Sister once for singing “Mrs McGrath” to a Mrs McGrath, but nowadays people rarely tell her off for singing traditional songs, either solo, or with the talented and weel-kent singers and musicians she collaborates with from time to time.

Check out her latest collaboration with Dundee musician and producer Christopher Marra – Leaf an’ Thorn. Chris has been a musician since his teens, working in many distinct fields from bighair rock to sophisticated pop with Danny Wilson via London’s Theatreland. The majority of his time was spent recording and performing with his brother Michael Marra, producing albums for Michael and the legendary Saint Andrew.


Founder member of Ceolbeg and one of the finest Scottish revival singers, Barbara has re-emerged from her life as a doctor and mother with this, her finest recording. She’s set Scots traditional, Jacobite songs, Bothy ballads, gypsy songs alongside lyrics by Brooksbank, Burns, Dylan and producer Michael Marra (quite a few to unusual but well-married tunes) with the imaginative, skilful modesty of her acoustic band. A moving album full of great songs and timeless character.

by Norman Chalmers
– Scotland on Sunday 28/8/11

One of the Scottish folk scene’s best voices was quiet while Barbara Dymock concentrated on her career as a doctor and bringing up her family. Now the singer with an early version of the popular folk band Ceolbeg is being heard again, and has released an album that brings out all her considerable strengths. Equally convincing and engaging whether singing quiter, more persuasive songs or rambunctious tales such as The Beefcan Close or the album’s producer, Michael Marra’s brazen, brawlin’ and sozzled Muggie Sha, Dymock is a singer with bags of character. The arrangements here, whether introducing fiddle, guitar, banjo, flute, whistle, mandolin and moothie or focusing on just Dymock’s voice and self-created harmonies, all show her clear, natural storytelling talent in its best light. The Appalachian-flavoured Edward and the unaccompanied segueing of Robert Burn’s The Gallant Weaver and Blythe Was She are particularly good examples, but in the old days you would have dropped the needle anywhere on this album and found something worth hearing.

by Rob Adam
– The Herald 18/9/11