HebCelt’s ‘Blue on Green’ updated for 21st birthday

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The award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival will celebrate its ‘coming of age’ this year with a birthday present that was gift wrapped in Nashville.

To mark the festival’s 21st year, an updated version of its theme song has been produced with the help of musicians from both sides of the Atlantic.

‘Blue on Green’ was originally written in 2009 by Calum Martin (pictured), one of Scotland’s top traditional music artists and a pioneer of Gaelic rock music, to capture the anticipation which surrounds the annual staging of HebCelt and the impact the festival has on the islands.

Inspired by the large blue tent which hosted the festival’s earlier main gigs on the Lews Castle green, it has since been used by the festival and broadcasters, including the BBC, to promote programmes about the event.

Calum has now produced a new version of the song and had it mixed and mastered in Nashville, home of the country music industry, by respected producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Scott Neubert, who played on the original.

It will now be made available as a free download on the HebCelt website: here

Scott, who has worked with many country acts including Hal Ketchum and Trace Adkins, also plays guitar, dobro and banjo on the song, while fiddle is provided by Jason Roller, whose credits include playing with Dolly Parton, Dave Mason and Gretchen Wilson.

Bobby King, a Nashville-based bass player, also plays on the recording, as does drummer and producer Peter Young and Lewis piper and Indie musician Iain Morrison, while local singers Iain (Spanish) MacKay and Sean Harrison took care of vocals.

Calum, whose daughter Isobel Ann Martin sang on the original and will be performing in the HebCelt show Hebridean Women this year, said: “It’s been some years since the song was written and I thought it would be good to update it to mark HebCelt’s 21st birthday and celebrate what the festival does for the island. I was keen to do a modern version of the song and involve some young local people to give it a fresh feel.

“I do a lot of work in Nashville, and have recorded my own albums there, so I got my friend Scott to look at it and he ended up re-mixing it and playing on the recording.

“I wanted to retain the Scottish element, with the original pipes, and we’ve gone for an Americana-meets-Scottish feel which is really popular at the moment and I’m very happy with the end result.

“Everyone has given their time for free, but these guys produce world class material and it’s taken the song to a different level.”

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan added: “We are hugely indebted to Calum for the time and energy spent on updating ‘Blue on Green’. The re-mixing and the new vocals give it a very different feel and we are delighted with this new version.

“The fact he has used local singers also fits well with the festival’s ethos of supporting young emerging talent. It’s a great advert for the festival and the breadth of local creative talent and we would encourage people to download it from the website.”

The 21st HebCelt will be held from 13-16 July in Stornoway. Runrig will head a line-up of nearly 50 acts over the four days, including the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Hayseed Dixie, Julie Fowlis, Astrid, John McCusker, King Creosote and Breabach.