When the daffodils bloom and the clocks move a young man’s fancy turns to….well many things.
One of those is certainly music festivals. All through Europe they abound. But the choice – if it were limited to only those to the West of Scotland – is still immense.
Ponders Mull – Oban – Tiree – Heb Celt – Groove – Colonsay – Tarbert – Belladrum – Bogbain farm.
All of them perhaps.
Runrig in Stornoway is only equalled by The Levellers on Tiree. Skerryvore and Skipinnish in Oban is a pair but snap – they are for Tiree too. No doubles with Groove on Loch Ness, just dance music – but of course Tiree is famous for producing dance bands with its mainline genetic for top Accordion players.
But, that’s enough of the mixed metaphors, and on to the substance.
All of those with tickets for sale – have tickets on sale now.
Tiree has just released its final batch and the race is on. Its decision time now and book the boat time. Cal-mac have pulled out the stops and added extra ships to sail with the revelers and to make sure you get back in time for the day job.
The Levellers top the bill and provide a bit of Brighton Rock along to mix with the Celtic version from The Red-Hot Chili Pipers, Skipinnish and from Ireland – Flook.
So having highlighted [high lit? – I’ve never nailed down the past tense of yon word] a few of the attractions – what of the rest?
Well, Tiree and Oban Live are the brain children of the Gillespie Brothers of Skerryvore and both festivals have grown exponentially. As the popularity of coming to the Hawaii of the north has grown, Oban Live was invented – and the faithful come to pay homage to Skerryvore and Skipinnish who have both reached the high peaks of Celtic folk Rock.
Tiree, back in 2010, entertained a sell-out 600 inaugural folk festival and by last year it was a sell-out 1700.
Skerryvore Decade has gone from pipe dream to a two day delight in the form of Oban Live with several thousand fans coming each day this May. It has a 90% plus satisfaction rate and with the musical trinity of Gaeldom – Capercaillie, Skerryvore, and Skipinnish – in one spot, can it hit 100% this year? KT Tunstall will top the bill at the home of Shinty – Mossfield Park on the 13th and 14th May.
Heb Celt is the Isle of Lewis gem and it comes to celebrate a double decade this year with a fantastic line up including Braebach, Rura, Rusty Shackle and to top off a remarkable year, Runrig with their much acclaimed new ‘Final Studio album’ – The Story, in live performance.
Braebach join Blazin’ Fiddles, Bruce and Walker and Kris Drever on Colonsay for the friendly wee festival over 4 days in September.
That same weekend, it’s Manran and the Democrats in Tarbert on Loch Fyne; and the weekend before it’s ‘Best of the West’ food and whisky fest at Inveraray Castle for Gary Innes and Manran – who will not be long back from touring Europe, having been in Australia.
Food and fine drink feature at all the festivals – this is the west of Scotland after all – but Brew at the Bog on the first weekend in June at the Bogbain Farm festival in Inverness is worth a mention for its USP – craft beer plus gin, wine and whisky featuring alongside great acts like the C Duncan sensation and Idlewild in renaissance.
It’s right up there with Scallops and whisky on the beach at Tiree in the sun.
Relentless dance music covers Groove Loch Ness – one night of wonder in August with the turntable groove masters of the club scene, Duke Dumont and Boys Noize creating the scene of the biggest nightclub under the stars.
But it all kicks off this month in Mull, the home of the hand dived scallop and with mussels a go-go, not to mention the delights of the Ledaig Distillery [say ‘Letch ache”’ when on Mull and impress the locals]. Then add the sea air in your nostrils and the skirl of the new mega pipe line-up of headliners Skipinnish to sublime vocals of new front man Norrie MacIver to tantalise your ears – and your sense sensation is complete. That one is good to go on April 21st to 24th – inside at four venues you will know well in Tobermory: Macgochans, the Mish, the Macdonald Arms and the Park lodge.
Festivals – they are fine, full of friends –new and old and most importantly – they are on your doorstep.
Campbell Cameron, Music Editor
Note: The top photo catches the beach delight of the Tiree Music Festival [© Campbell Cameron]