Folk Radio UK will be out and about at a number of Festivals this summer being entertained by some of the finest folk, acoustic and roots artists around. One of our reviewers, Johnny Whalley, has three gatherings highlighted on his calendar which he’ll be covering including Tiree Music Festival (20 and 21 July), Wickham Festival (1 – 4 August) and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention (8 – 10 August), over to John:
The trusty Whalley family VDub will be there (her name’s Morag if you want to introduce yourselves), and I’ll be chatting to as many artists and organisers as I can manage, so watch out for reviews and interviews over the next couple of months. Here are some Tiree snippets to whet your appetite.
Last year, Tiree Music Festival was voted Scotland’s best small festival, was that in spite or because of being hosted on a tiny Inner Hebridean island, I wondered? Who better to ask than Daniel Gillespie, Tiree native, Festival Director and member of high energy Celtic folk rock band Skerryvore. He’s in no doubt that the island location is key, “the location and setting of the festival is the unique selling point of the event. Where we can’t compete with the bigger festivals on budget for bands/acts, we have the most stunning festival setting in the UK, if not the world!” So no risk of underselling from Daniel, then, but with the island having the nickname “Hawaii of the North” and descriptions of white sandy beaches, lush greenery and stunning seascapes proliferating, I can’t wait to get there.
Despite Daniel mentioning the relatively small budget for artists, this year’s headliners are about as big as they come in Celtic music. Capercaillie are about to enter their fourth decade of writing, arranging and performing some of the most innovative and engaging traditionally inspired music. Embarking on a 30th anniversary tour this summer, their appearance at Tiree is followed by sets at heavyweight Festivals such as Cambridge, Sidmouth and Shrewsbury. Clearly, Tiree can punch way above its weight when it comes to attracting the very best.
Other artists appearing this year will also be familiar to many Folk Radio listeners, amongst them Manran, Breabach, Washington Irving and Blazing Fiddles. However, looking into some of the less familiar names a couple of intriguing aspects to the festival emerge. Checking out band pages, I find that Skipinnish, Gunna Sound and Trail West join Skerryvore in having box players who hail from Tiree. Based on the island and playing on The Gordon Connell Ceilidh Stage is The Cornaig Ceilidh Band. Five bands, not bad going for an island with a population of little over 500. Key to this hot spot of musicianship is that name, Gordon Connell. The ceilidh stage is named in homage to this self-taught box player and “the island’s legendary music mentor”. Named Music Tutor of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2010 this is a man I’m really looking forward to meeting.
Breabach on the making of Bann (March 2012)
No surprise that the weekend will be dominated by Scottish bands but the net is cast further afield and, Coast, a band from just a few miles away from my home base in Hampshire will be there. For the last 3 years the festival has organised a competition to find new talent, TMF Unsigned. This year’s search has just concluded and both the winners, Amber Road, and runners up, Macanta, will play the main stage during the weekend. So much new music to be discovered over a single weekend, plus The Community Village to explore and I mustn’t miss the island’s agricultural show and evening beach party that kick off the festivities on the Friday. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.
Tiree Music Festival 2012 Video:
Tiree Music Festival runs from 20-21st July 2013.