Tom Fairnie and Bob Shields


Tom Fairnie and Bob ShieldsMy Little Radio Show on Radio Saltire is co-presented by two local songwriters and poets, Tom Fairnie (left) and Bob Shields (right).

They are both born and bred in Musselburgh where Bob now lives after having travelled as far as Edinburgh. Tom has ventured even further; all the way to West Lothian and back. He now lives on the east side of Edinburgh. Despite growing up in the same town, around about the same time (Bob is a few years younger than Tom) they managed to avoid each other until they both found themselves working for Edinburgh University and their professional paths crossed.

It didn’t take long for them to realise that they had a mutual interest in music and poetry and that they could write together. They have been co-writing songs ever since. They both write poetry and they generally share the task of writing the lyrics. Tom plays guitar and creates the melodies, although it should be pointed out that Bob has, on occasion, “interfered” with this process and can take some share of the blame for the resulting songs. One of those co-written songs is My Little Radio, which has provided them with a very appropriate theme song.

They have performed together in the UK and the Netherlands as part of a group of songwriters and poets, called The Travelling Waverlies, and have released a joint CD / EP called The Harbour At Symi. Together and separately they have played regularly in local venues and at Fringe concerts and festivals. They have given song writing workshops and often collaborate with other writers. They use their experience and an approach based on critical appraisal to try to improve their own writing skills as well as offering advice or constructive comment on other people’s work.

Tom Fairnie

Tom was one of the founder organisers of the Edinburgh institution that was Foakies, which, until recently, was a monthly event featuring singer songwriters and poets performing original work. He has been writing songs for many years and has a reputation as a writer of lyrical, melodic and accessible songs that make the best use of his guitar skills to provide sensitive, uncluttered arrangements. Tom’s CDs include The Journeyman, As Eden Lay In Darkness and Banishment. He is currently very proud to be a part of Tomfoolery, along with Jane Fairnie, Madelaine Cave and Graham Whyte.


Tomfoolery recently played a series of gigs in the Netherlands and Germany and are already looking forward to a more extensive tour in Germany later next year. They are due to release their first CD in December 2014. They perform original songs written by Tom in the Americana, country, folk, blues and gospel traditions as well as songs that lean more toward contemporary influences. Tomfoolery is Tom’s main musical focus and is providing a great incentive to write new songs, record more CDs and tour and perform to new audiences.

Bob Shields

Bob has been writing, publishing and performing poetry for many years and is regarded as the “poet of relationships” by his peers. He has brought an engineer’s attention to detail to the emotional minefield of human interactions. He has been performing his work to appreciative audiences in the UK, America and Europe. He is a former “Hardly Boy”, which was a group of four poets, namely, Mike Dillon, Kevin Cadwallender, John McGaughie and Bob. His published works include The Blood Behind The Kiss, Me & Billy The Kid (with Billy Cornwall) and The Geometry Of Shadows.

Tom and Bob share a similar background, an eclectic taste in music and a propensity to discuss music, football, politics and philosophy over a drink in Staggs. They hope to bring that same mix of anecdotes, dubious facts and fanciful wordplay to their radio show…without the rum.

Each show is themed around song writing topics and both Tom and Bob look forward to interaction with listeners and guests on what is undoubtedly their favourite topic.

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My Little Radio Show airs on Tuesday evenings between 9pm and 11pm