First acts announced for Hebridean Celtic Festival 2015

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A band that can boast to having had Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant and Sinéad O’Connor in their line up will play this year’s HebCelt Festival.

The Grammy-nominated Afro Celt Sound System, like the festival, are marking their 20th year in 2015.

They are one of the first acts to confirm they will be playing the July event, along with. Glasgow-based Treacherous Orchestra, who were nominated in the Best Group section in the 2013 Radio 2 Folk Awards and Highland outfit The Elephant Sessions, named as Up and Coming Artists of the Year at this year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.

The Afro Celt Sound System, a strong festival favourite, fuse modern electronic dance rhythms with traditional Irish and West African music. They were formed by Grammy-nominated producer-guitarist Simon Emmerson, and have featured a wide range of guest artists, including Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant and Sinéad O’Connor.

After a number of festival dates in 2007, the band went into hiatus, but re-grouped in 2010 and played a number of shows, including a return to WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance.

This year they launched a new website and announced the upcoming release of a new album, ‘Born’.

Treacherous Orchestra, who release a new album, ‘Grind’, in February, are an 11-piece ‘super collective’ of mostly Scots musicians, with one member from Ireland, having been formed at Celtic Connections in 2009.

They feature one of Scotland’s top pipers in Ross Ainslie; outstanding fiddler Adam Sutherland, from the village of Errogie on Loch Ness-side - who recorded his first solo album ‘Squall’ at Ullapool’s Ceilidh Place this year - and bodhran player Martin O’Neill, who’s played with Stevie Wonder.

Each member of the band is a talented musician in his own right and many of the group are also gifted composers, producers and engineers. The cumulative impact is described as a ‘loud and frenetic combination of pipes, drums, flute and strings’.

The band’s Eamonn Coyne said: “Treacherous Orchestra can’t wait to play material from our new album ‘Grind’ live at HebCelt 2015.”

The Elephant Sessions made a name for themselves on the live circuit before the release of their debut album ‘The Elusive Highland Beauty’ and their recent success in the Trad Awards.

The line-up includes drummer Greg Barry, from Dingwall; fiddle player Euan Smillie, from Kilmuir; Alasdair Taylor, from Inverness on mandolin; guitarist Mark Bruce, from Edderton; and the one non-Highlander, Seth Tinsley, from Hexham in Northumberland, on double bass.

Mark Bruce said: “HebCelt has always been one of those festivals that we have longed to play. It’s the one everyone talks about as being amazing and we can’t wait to come.”

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “Our first three acts for 2015 offer an exciting and diverse mix of music for our audience.

“The Afro Celt Sound System draw on music from across the world and are a fantastic act to see as well as hear.

“Treacherous Orchestra have some absolutely wonderful musicians and are a powerhouse on stage.

“The Elephant Sessions are one of the fine, new generation of bands, as their recent award success has shown.

“We are determined to make this year one of the best parties in HebCelt’s history combining some festival favourites with the best of emerging artists and our programme should reflect that.”

The festival’s landmark 20th year kicked off on 1 January, as part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, when artists representing HebCelt performed at a special ceilidh being held as part of a series of free live gigs in the Old Town.