A CELEBRATION of one of Scotland's most revered singer-songwriters will be held at Cove Burgh Hall on Saturday as part of the fifth Cove and Kilcreggan Book Festival.

More than six years since his death, the remarkable musical legacy of Michael Marra is still winning the late Dundonian singer-songwriter new fans across Scotland and around the globe.

And the man who wrote the life story of ‘the bard of Lochee’ is hoping that this Saturday's show at the Cove and Kilcreggan festival will add yet more numbers to that growing army of Marra enthusiasts.

James Robertson, who lived next door to Marra and his wife Peggy in the Angus village of Newtyle, saw his biography of one of Scotland’s greatest musical treasures, who died aged 60 in October 2012, published last year.

And he’ll be telling just a few of the stories from Marra’s fascinating life at Cove Burgh Hall this Saturday, November 24, at 7.30pm – in the company of another of Marra’s long-time friends, leading Scottish folk musician Rab Noakes.

Their performance will be a 'stripped-down' version of a show first staged at Celtic Connections in Glasgow earlier this year.

“I’ve known and loved Michael Marra’s music since the late eighties or early nineties,” James said.

“My wife and I were looking for a place to move to a number of years ago, and by coincidence, ended up living round the corner from this man whose music I absolutely loved.

"So I got to know him pretty well for the last 10 years or so of his life.

“Rab was instrumental in putting Michael in touch with the man who would become his manager in the early 1980s and who got him a deal with Polydor in London, so he, too, knew Michael very, very well.

“The show is a mixture of readings from the book and Rab playing some of Michael’s songs, interspersed with conversations between us about various aspects of Michael’s life and work.”

Part of the enduring appeal of the Marra songbook lies in its creator’s determination to let his music do the talking – he was particularly fond of saying that he wanted to see his name “not in lights, but in brackets”.

“He was a very self-effacing and modest man,” James continued.

“He wanted to write songs other people would perform – he loved writing for musical productions, and he and Rab wrote the music for the BBC’s 1990 drama series Your Cheatin’ Heart – and since his death more and more people have gone back to the Michael Marra songbook, which I think he would have loved.

“He was also a really, really good human being – he was generous, kind, thoughtful and intelligent, and that shines through in all his work.

“And not just in his songs, but also in the theatre, which he loved; he was also an actor, he wrote short stories, and he was a very accomplished artist.

“Whatever he touched, he was just so good at – and if he wasn’t good at it, he would work away and work away at it until he was.

“The show goes beyond the sadness of his loss and celebrates his life. Michael might be gone, but his songs will survive, because he was such a special songwriter.”

Saturday night’s show forms just one part of a packed book festival weekend including appearances by crime writer Val McDermid, Scots Makar Jackie Kay, BBC correspondent Allan Little, TV and radio presenter Sally Magnusson, and many more.

“I was at the first Cove and Kilcreggan festival,” James continued, “and I’ve been to a number of the subsequent ones, and I never cease to be amazed at the quality of writer the organisers manage to attract.

“It’s an incredibly strong line-up this year – these are people who travel all over the country to the very biggest book festivals, and it’s fantastic to see them coming to Cove and Kilcreggan.

“It’s going to be a special weekend.”

For full details of this weekend’s festival schedule, and to book tickets for the few events which haven’t yet sold out, see coveburghhall.org.uk/what-s-on.