Good news comes in threes for Hebridean Celtic Festival 2013

Lewis lad Alasdair White can't wait to perform at home for the first time with the Battlefield Band at HebCelt 2013.
Lewis lad Alasdair White can't wait to perform at home for the first time with the Battlefield Band at HebCelt 2013.

Two of Scotland’s top live acts and a livewire American band who have become one of the most popular on the UK roots circuit have signed up to appear at the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival next summer.

The Battlefield Band, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and The Hot Seats are the first acts to be revealed for the island festival which will be held from 17th to 20th July, 2013.

Regarded as one of the great institutions of the traditional music scene, the Battlefield Band, who release their 28th album in January, have been performing around the world for over 40 years and were named Scottish Folk Band of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards in 2011.

Their gig on the festival’s main stage on Friday, 19th July, will be a homecoming for fiddler Alasdair White who was born in Stornoway.

The line-up also includes fiddler, piper and vocalist Ewen Henderson, originally from Fort William, as well as Sean O’Donnell (vocals/guitar), from Derry, Northern Ireland, and guitarist and piper Mike Katz, originally from Los Angeles.

Alasdair said: “We’re really pleased to be playing the HebCelt in 2013. It’s my home turf so it’s particularly important to me. It’s actually the first time I’ve played in my home town with Battlefield Band since I joined them at the age of 18 and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’ve been going to the HebCelt since I was a kid - I attended the very first one when I was about 13!” he continued.

“The workshops have always been a superb opportunity to learn from visiting musicians, but perhaps even more important for me was to see bands of a really high calibre up there playing on a fitting stage, right on your doorstep.

“I always hesitate to use the word ‘inspiring’ too lightly but in actual fact this was.

“It’s a real honour and a pleasure to come back now and perhaps even do the same thing for other young musicians.”

The Battlefield Band’s performance will be followed on Saturday, 20th July by the internationally-acclaimed Red Hot Chilli Pipers who last appeared at HebCelt in 2008.

Their ‘Bagrock’ style is in demand around the world and has seen them voted Scottish Live Act of the Year in 2007 and 2010. They are making a return to Lewis five years after last appearing on the HebCelt stage.

“To be invited to return to the festival five years on from our original performance in 2008 is amazing”, said piper Kevin MacDonald. “A lot has evolved in our band over these five years and we have had many difference experiences but I can tell you personally that nothing has yet surpassed my first experience of Heb Celt – outstanding people, place and atmosphere.

Also confirmed to appear on the Thursday and Friday are Virginian five-piece The Hot Seats whose hard-to-characterise music mixes Bluegrass, skiffle, ragtime, blues and rock ‘n’ roll and list among their influences Woodie Guthrie, Frank Zappa and George Formby.

The band have gone down a storm at events including Celtic Connections, Shetland Folk Festival, Didmarton Bluegrass Festival, Maverick Festival, Speyfest and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where they were awarded a coveted Herald Angel in 2008 for their outstanding contribution to the event.

The band’s Josh Bearman, who shares stints on double bass and banjo, said: “No trip to the UK is complete without a good string of dates in Scotland, and we couldn’t imagine being in Scotland and not playing the Western Isles.

“One of the most memorable gigs for all of us was when we played An Lanntair in the summer of 2011.

“We have been hoping to return to Stornoway for another wild and fun-filled night and we are ecstatic to be coming back for HebCelt.”

The 18th HebCelt is attracting huge interest across the globe seven months ahead of the event. Advance tickets – which are being held at 2012 prices of £70 (£55 for concession and £15 for children under 14) for the main arena events – have already been snapped up by fans across the UK and Ireland, Europe and America.

Festival director Caroline Maclennan, said: “Next year’s festival is already off to a great start with confirmation that The Battlefield Band, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and The Hot Seats will be in the line-up. All three are fantastic live bands and will add to the special atmosphere for which HebCelt is renowned.

“With some more fabulous names still to announce, our 18th birthday looks set to be special occasion.”