Dougie MacLean Elephant Sessions Lau Lewis & Leigh Na h-Òganaich Peatbog Faeries Skerryvore The Outside Track The Waterboys ...
The strong bonds of history and culture that link Canada to Scotland will be embraced through music at this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival.
The award-winning HebCelt is hosting three acts from New Brunswick, one of the country’s smallest provinces, to strengthen traditional ties during the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. The confederation was the process by which the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. Many of the early Canadian settlers emigrated from Scotland, including the Hebrides, and that heritage is still celebrated in songs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Singer-songwriter Tristan Horncastle, female fiddlers and dancers the Lumber Jills and children’s music act Shelley Bean & The Duckety Muds will perform at HebCelt which is being held from 19-22 July and will be headlined by The Waterboys, Imelda May, Dougie Maclean and Lucy Spraggan.
This year’s Canadian invasion has its roots in meetings HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan had while attending the East Coast Music Week (ECMW) in Sydney, Nova Scotia, last April. She said: “The event was a real eye opener on the wider Canadian east coast music scene. We know of and have previously hosted at HebCelt artists from Quebec and also Cape Breton, with whom we Hebrideans have a natural affinity. The opportunity to showcase artists from New Brunswick is very welcome and I'm convinced that those we have chosen this year will not only add to the variety of our programming but will be embraced by our audiences.”
As well as being a performer herself, Shelley Chase, aka Bean, is also behind efforts to promote New Brunswick artists to a wider audience. She said: “New Brunswick has an Irish, Scottish and Franco heritage with a ton of traditional musicians, but we have not exported much to Scotland in the past. We also have many, many country music artists that evolved that trad background of early settlers. I suggested to HebCelt we would be interested in a cultural project that exposed the Isle of Lewis and Scotland to a province they may not know much about that had many Scottish immigrants.”
“Canadians always want to know more about where our ancestors come from and Scotland and Ireland are very much at the top of the list, especially as so many folk songs talk about leaving Scotland and we are the second part of the story. The longing for Scotland and the homesickness that first wave carried to our province stayed in the music long after they passed. Our generation still sings of the longing for Scotland and so the natural curiosity amongst us is to see what they left and where we come from. I’d like to thank the government of New Brunswick for supporting us in this initiative. We hope to collect some songs that maybe did not make it across the pond and learn a lot of Lewis fiddle tunes.”
Since releasing his first EP in 2011, Tristan Horncastle has shared stages with the likes of Travis Tritt, Dean Brody and LeAnn Rimes. In 2015 he was nominated in the Canadian Country Music Association Awards’ Rising Star category and the Canadian Radio Music Awards for Best New Group or Solo Artist in the Country category, as well as three wins at Prix Music NB Awards for Album of the Year, Country Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice. Last year his album ‘Turnin’ Up A Sundown’ earned him a CCMA nomination for Recording Package of the Year and five nominations at the Prix Music NB Awards for Country Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, SOCAN Song of the Year, Video of the Year and Producer of the Year.
The Lumber Jills are all aged under 20, but have won multiple awards for their heritage music and dancing. They are making their first visit to Scotland, having promoted their culture across Canada and Ireland, as well as Belgium and France.
Shelley Bean has been working with children for over 20 years, mixing traditional music, dance and entertainment. A former early childhood educator, she has toured extensively both with the Muds – a rotating cast of some of New Brunswick’s best musicians - and other projects, performing for young audiences at events such as the Winnipeg and Calgary Folk Festivals and the Woodford Folk Festival in Australia. Her debut children’s CD was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award. Shelley has also been active with the ‘Agriculture in the Classrooms’ programme - where she is official artist in residence - and which is carried out in conjunction with the Federation of Agriculture in each province.
Lau are a pioneering contemporary folk trio comprising three of the UK’s finest traditional musicians: Kris Drever (vocals, guitar), Martin Green (accordion, wurlitzer, keys, electronics) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle). Lau have picked up four awards for ‘Best Group’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and appeared on TV on Later…With Jools Holland (BBC 2 TV). Lau continue to effortlessly bridge the seemingly diametrically opposed worlds of acoustic folk tradition, classical composition, pop song and electronica.
The individual members of Lau have all won multiple awards and recognition for their solo work and in February 2017, Kris Drever was nominated for Folk Singer of The Year 2017 and Best Original Song 2017 by BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017, whilst Martin Green was nominated for Best Original Song and Best Album 2017, the ceremony taking place at The Royal Albert Hall April 2017.
Hailing from the Isle of Skye, the Peatbog Faeries are the figurehead trailblazers of the Celtic Dance Music renaissance. Drawing upon a dazzling myriad of influences from traditional jigs and reels through jazz, hip hop, reggae and more, they take traditional Scottish music and bring it fresh-faced and breathless into the 21st century.
They are Peter Morrison (pipes and whistles), Ross Couper (fiddle), Tom Salter (guitar), Innes Hutton (bass, percussion) Graeme Stafford (keyboards) and Stuart Haikney (drums). They have toured the world taking their inventive and unique brand of music and light show to audiences far and wide, never failing to fill the floor and delight the crowd.
This is high octane Celtic dance music as you’ve never heard it before. Be prepared to dance!
Lewis & Leigh
Al Lewis from Wales and Alva Leigh from Mississippi – released their debut album ‘Ghost’ (Celticana Records) on August 26th 2016. A stunning collection of self-penned originals, ‘Ghost’ is the culmination of a collaboration that began in 2014 when the two solo musicians first began writing together. Recorded in January 2016 at Urchin Studios in London with Matt Ingram, ‘Ghost’ celebrates the differences in their individual experiences whilst finding common ground.
Three well received EPs have built a growing following and Lewis & Leigh received two nominations (Best UK Song & Best UK Act) at the inaugural UK Americana Awards earlier this year. A stand out acoustic performance around one microphone at that event led to invitations to join Billy Bragg’s songwriters’ round at Glastonbury (where they were the only artists playing two shows – the Acoustic and Leftfield stages), to open shows for Deacon Blue on their UK tour in November and to make a return visit to the US Americana Festival in Nashville in September.
Few bands have changed as much as The Waterboys. Formed in 1983, on their first three albums Mike Scott sculpted a layered post-punk sound, culminating in 1985’s sky-scraping This is the Sea. Since then the music has never ceased to evolve, from the influential mix of Celtic, gospel, country and rock on the classic Fisherman’s Blues, to the fired-up poetic passion of 2011's An Appointment with Mr Yeats and 2015's acclaimed return to prominence, the rootsy, funky Modern Blues. The latest live version of the band band is the same as recorded Modern Blues and successfully toured the world last year: Mike Scott on vocals, guitar and piano, Steve Wickham on electric fiddle, great Memphis keyboard player and showman Brother Paul, ace drummer Ralph Salmins, legendary Muscle Shoals bassman David Hood and sharp Austin guitarist Zach Ernst. Their sound bridges the toughness of British/Irish rock and the soulful, funky swagger of the American south.
The relevance and popular reach of The Waterboys has never been greater. Their songs have recently been performed by artists as varied as Ellie Goulding, who scored a top 3 UK hit with “How Long Will I Love You” in 2013; Prince, who sang "The Whole Of The Moon" onstage last year; mainstream poppers Boyzone who recorded "The Whole Of The Moon" in 2014, US indie rockers The War On Drugs, who've played "A Pagan Place" as a staple of their live set for several years; and cool new American band Dawes who have rearranged "Fisherman's Blues" to astonishing effect in their 2015 shows. Meanwhile "How Long Will I Love You", "Fisherman's Blues" and "You In The Sky" were featured in the recent hit movies About Time, Dom Hemingway and What We Did On Our Holiday.
Photo Credits: (1) Hebridean Celtic Festival, (3) Peatbog Faeries, (4) Lewis & Leigh, (5) Mike Scott / The Waterboys (unknown/website); (2) Lau (by Walkin' Tom).