HebCelt showcases the best of Gaelic talent

Still going strong after 50 years - The Lochies help HebCelt celebration Gaelic culture at this year's Festival.
Still going strong after 50 years - The Lochies help HebCelt celebration Gaelic culture at this year's Festival.

An early Gaelic super group, one of the islands’ great musical dynasties and the recent winners of the Radio 2 Young Folk Award will help the Hebridean Celtic Festival celebrate its cultural heritage this year.

The award-winning HebCelt will hold a Gaelic Showcase at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway over four days of the event, which runs from July 16th to 19th.

Among the talented performers on stage will be The Mischa MacPherson Trio, who won the Radio 2 award last month; the famous family group The Campbells of Greepe, and island legends The Lochies and Friends; as well as singers Maggie MacInnes and Rachel Newton.

The Lochies and Friends will play on Wednesday, July 16th.

Named after the district of Lochs in Lewis, The Lochies have been performing for over 50 years and have earned a devoted following with their music, which celebrates their Hebridean culture.

They were formed when John Macmillan – ‘Seonaidh Beag’- teamed up with his brother Angus Macmillan and Donnie ‘Gazette’ MacInnes for the 1968 Royal National Mod at Dunoon.

They later performed at concerts across the country and made regular appearances at the Highlands and Islands Society of London.

They recorded six albums and, since making a comeback at Ceòl is Cràic in Glasgow 2012, The Lochies have been in great demand selling out concerts in the Central Belt and in Lewis.

At HebCelt they will be joined on stage by Calum Alex Macmillan, Iain MacInnes, Norrie MacIver and Anna Murray to play songs from the group’s extensive repertoire.

On stage the following night will be The Campbells of Greepe – Caimbeulaich a’ Ghnìoba –five members of the same famous family who between them have won ten Mòd gold medals through three generations.

The group, which incorporates the name of their home crofting township in Skye, includes sister and brother Kenna and Seumas Campbell, Kenna’s daughters Mary Ann and Wilma Kennedy and her niece Maggie Macdonald.

Mary Ann Kennedy, the multi award-winning, singer, producer, writer and broadcaster, said: “This year’s Gaelic showcase is a real window on the whole world of Gaelic song and tradition.

“The Campbells are honoured and very excited to be part of a gathering that includes Gaelic legends like The Lochies and rising stars like Mischa for a programme that shows the great riches of our music and culture.”

Friday is the turn of the Mischa MacPherson Trio, all former pupils of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton, who also picked up the Celtic Connections 2014 Danny Kyle Award in January.

The trio consists of singer and clarsach player Mischa, 20, from Sandwick in Lewis; guitarist and composer Innes White, 19, from Dingwall; and Conal McDonagh, 19, who was brought up in Poolewe, Wester Ross, and plays whistles and pipes.

They met at Feis Ross and have since performed on the International Ceilidh Trail in 2011 and toured top UK Folk Festivals as well as international venues.

Also on stage on Friday will be Rachel Newton, from Edinburgh, who spent a lot of her youth in the north-west Highlands, attending a Gaelic medium school and was involved in the Fèis movement.

She later formed the duo Rachel and Lillias, joined the Emily Portman Trio and co-founded Scots Trad Music Award nominated six-piece band The Shee.

Rachel has also worked extensively in theatre, winning a CATS Award for Best Use of Music in 2009, and her singing is featured in Raindance award winning film The Inheritance.

And on Saturday the showcase will feature singer and clàrsach player Maggie MacInnes, who was born in Glasgow but comes from a long line of Gaelic singers from Barra.

She was voted Best Gaelic Singer of the Year in the 2004 BBC Scots Trad Music Awards and at HebCelt she will perform as part of the Maggie MacInnes Trio with Brian McAlpine (of Session A9) on keyboards and accordion and Anna Massie (of Blazin’ Fiddles).

The Gaelic Showcase is an integral part of HebCelt which was first held in 1996 to raise awareness of Celtic music and to promote the Gaelic language to a wide audience.

Caroline Maclennan, festival director, said: “We are passionate about protecting and developing our unique cultural heritage.

“The Gaelic Showcase is one way we can promote this wonderful asset by bringing together some well-established performers, who have maintained the traditions of Gaelic music and song over many years, and some emerging talent who are adding new riches to this treasure trove.”

In addition to the showcase, the main festival programme will feature on Friday, July 18th, Ceòl Na Cloinne, a group of young musicians and singers from Harris formed eight years ago by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Community Learning and Development Service to give young traditional musicians the opportunity to play sessions together.

The current line-up plays a lively and varied selection of Scottish traditional and contemporary tunes, strongly influenced by their Gaelic cultural roots.

The 19th HebCelt will feature its biggest ever programme with more than 30 acts and will be headlined by Levellers, Big Country and Donnie Munro.

It will also include performances by Cara Dillon, Rachel Sermanni, Duncan Chisholm, Cajun band Magnolia Sisters, from the US, and Canadian outfit Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.

For more information about tthe 2014 Hebridean Celtic Festival – including full line-up and ticket details – please visit www.hebceltfest.com