Campbell Cameron: Benderloch Palladium to Glastonbury, the music plays on

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It’s the time of year when wee snippets begin to slip into the media raising the pulse. Radio 4 makes mention of the farm. BBC 1 starts promoting summer in the countryside – if you tune to Radio 1 then you hear about the bands. Dust off the festival straw hat. The pulse quickens further at the sight of the line up…a band that has been together as long as any popular beat combo in the world, are going to headline. This is no ordinary festival of music – This is GLASTONBURY 2013.

The band has more longevity than the Beatles, by 40 years. They have played together on 29 studio albums – created 107 singles – 30 compilations and 17 live albums. They are THE ROLLING STONES.

On 900 acres of Somerset farm come together 150,000 plus folk to set the stages up, feed the army of folk, sell the merchandising goods, pour the beer and enjoy the music. In short, to make sure we all have a great time. This year the 135,000 tickets sold out in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Wow!

This is Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts – The finest music festival in the world.

In 1970 Michael Eavis and another 14 investors held the first festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton.

That year Marc Bolan and T Rex topped the bill and 1500 tickets were sold. The next year 10 times as many came and paid and David Bowie topped the bill. The mold was created.

This is a charitable event with volunteers raising money for many small and large good causes. Oxfam, Water Aid and Greenpeace are major beneficiaries but many of those who have helped the festival become the biggest and best are donating their wages to much smaller charity ventures.

CC Glasto 2Much of the success depends on that ethos as presented by Michael and his daughter Emily who are the joint organisers – it is laid back and the hippy ethos of peace and love abounds. For a city of this size – and a city it is …to have as little disorder and crime – minimal drunkenness and loads of good will  and fun is nothing less than amazing.

This year for me the acoustic stage has a huge attraction. Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings, proper legends, plus The Proclaimers and KT Tunstall -  just 4 of the major acts.

But that is only one of 100 stages and the attraction of discovering a great new band like Stornoway or Glasvegas the other year on a wee stage is addictive. Bumping into Seasick Steve and Maggie Bell on different occasions was special. Paloma Faith was delightful and Ellis and her struck it off as did Mark with Two Door Cinema club and We are Scientists.

It’s a small but effective media team we are!

So as the month goes on we at For Argyll and Oban Fm will keep you up to date with our preparations and the week that is Glastonbury 2013.  Oh… its gonna be an adventure!

And before this adventure, the music played on at the Benderloch Palladium

Been grand times over the last month or so it has. We had the Hollow Mountain String Band open the light entertainment season here at the Benderloch Palladium and that was followed by folk royalty in the form of Alan Reid and his sidekick – Rob van Santé [above]. The CDs rolled in too – Trail West and Manran both produced new offerings for our delectation. And what of VAMM and Angus Lyon? – each pressing the vinyl lately.  And finally. The new one arrived from the Battlefield Band, which brings me neatly round to Alan Reid again.

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Reid is a founding member of the Battlefield Band and is now celebrating his sixth decade in music. He has been that distinctive vocalist that penned songs and tunes that were the staple of the band for all those many miles on the road and over the seas. Lately he had been spending his time researching and completing an album based on the life of John Paul Jones – the pirate or patriot – depends on where you are standing it seems, but most certainly the man credited with forming the American navy. A new project will trace the life of Henry Bell another brave seafarer and the man to first power ships rather than sail them – most notably with The Comet. Alan and Rob brought them all to life in the Victory hall to a delighted and enthralled audience. Real Troubadours both.

Before that – Steve MacNally and the Hollow Mountain Sting Band came and brought us the foot tapping Americana and mountain music of the States. Great tunes on fiddle and guitar with support of the big bass had the capacity audience wishing there was room for dancing. No CD from the quartet yet but we will keep you posted when the big day comes. It will be soon.

Trail West from Tiree and under the direction of Tyree records, the Skerryvore label – have stretched in the four years since forming and are now a tight four piece ceilidh band. “The One that got away” is a fine debut with some great tracks including Donald Meek’s set and The island Boy both featuring young men who left their beloved Tiree and made good in the big City.

Manran are another fine group of youngsters from the west. Norrie MacIver and Gary Innes may be the best known of this broth of boys. Innes is a star as at home on the shinty pitch and in front of a camera commentating on the delicate game as he is on the accordion. Playing for Fort William he has lifted the cups as captain and on the box he has been an improving talent with his own band. Coming together with MacIver they formed Manran and almost immediately became the first band to chart in the Top 6O for many years with the distinctive Latha Math. Gathering a big following as a result, the first self titled album was very well received and appearances at New Year on BBC Alba and then Celtic Connections followed. Now comes The Test – the difficult second album. Well I can report that they passed and with aplomb. More great Gaelic vocals in that original style – unmistakeable of McIver – splendid in every way make this a must for your collection.

Fellow accordionist Angus Lyon pulls together a premier division set of players to feature on his 3G release – not a bit player in sight here and all at the top of their game. The talent that is emerging from the colleges and Fèis here in Scotland is world class. 3G explores the tunes from the generations gone before. Folky, jazzy and feisty – Lyons composition skills are only outweighed by his musical touch. Well worth a listen.

VAMM bring together even more of the emerged talent in the form of Catriona MacDonald, Patsy Reid and Marit Falt for their self titled first album. VAMM is a northern isles word for bewitch or entrance and the new album does just that. Bringing Nordic, Scottish, and northern isles influences to bear in a grand set of tunes. All bring a wee bit of that earlier influence – Patsy from Braebach and Catriona from Blazing Fiddles from their previous rooting. Marit brings her Nordic heritage to the stage and the gel is splendid. One for introspection and a late night dram of a fine malt.

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Coast is a band that is finally gelling in a very special way. Coast played Oban a couple of years ago and it was a fine night with a new band introducing its set  to most of us. Two years on and Coast were back but with only Chris and Paul Eastham. as founder members, still aboard the ship. Just as well they are, as it is the brothers early upbringing in Balivanich on Benbecula that gives the band it’s Celtic edge. The new guys are so individually talented that gelling might well have been an issue…but it was not so at the Gathering Hall in Oban. Slick, tight and delivering – big time. Andy Davy has joined on guitar and made the spot his home. The big riffs are still there and he brings them off with aplomb. The percussion is tribal with Chris augmenting Andrej Chernjavskij, the drummer, on all sorts of clever pieces. That just leaves Hamish the Bass and one might overlook him but he makes the rhythm section tick too. Not by overwhelming it but in a much more subtle way.

Then, there’s the talisman, Paul Eastham, on vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboard skills. Classically trained, this is a guy who knows an anthem when he meets one. Oceanos, The Caller, Believe, To the Windward, and the grand finale’ America, all had the sizable audience singing along and Paul was the conductor – bringing them in and making the crowd part of the song. So a band with a strong and vital future and a new album in the making. Don’t take my word for it – Iain Bayne, a man who knows a thing or two about rock anthems says so. Who is he? He is their manager …and in his spare time – he is Runrig’s drummer. Nuff said.
…..and the music plays on.

Campbell Cameron, Music Editor

Photographs by Campbell Cameron

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