Munro aims to help HebCelt scale new heights

Donnie Munro is looking forward to HebCelt 2014
Donnie Munro is looking forward to HebCelt 2014

Award-winning singer Donnie Munro is the first star name to be announced for the 2014 Hebridean Celtic Festival as it looks to build on this year’s record-breaking event.

The former Runrig frontman has been confirmed for Thursday, 17 July when he will make his debut at HebCelt. Further headliners will be announced soon.

The 19th HebCelt, based in Stornoway in the island of Lewis, will be held from 16-19 July 2014. A limited number of Early Bird tickets for the 2014 event went on sale online at earlier this month.

Next year’s line-up will also include award-winning Canadian band Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys (Friday) and local Lewis outfit Willie Campbell and the Open Day Rotation (Saturday).

Festival director Caroline Maclennan, said: “We are delighted to announce Donnie Munro for HebCelt 2014. Donnie is internationally renowned for his writing and singing, both with Runrig and as a solo artist, as well as being a tireless champion of the Gaelic language and culture.

“This year’s festival was a resounding success but we are now looking forward to 2014 with the aim of making it even better and having someone of Donnie’s calibre on stage can help us achieve that.

“The other acts we are announcing are outstanding live performers in their own right and will bring something special to the festival.”

Donnie Munro, who was born in Skye, was lead singer with Runrig between 1974 and 1997 when he left to contest the UK Parliamentary seat of Ross, Skye and Inverness West. He subsequently contested the same seat in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 1999.

He launched his first solo album On the West Side in 2000 and his 2006 CD Heart of America won the Scottish Trad Music Album of the Year Award.

A former Rector of the University of Edinburgh and the first Rector of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Donnie is director of development at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture in Skye, part of UHI.

His appearance at HebCelt next year with a specially commissioned eight-piece band follows a highly successful series of acoustic shows in 2013, a sell-out Danish tour and, most notably, his reunion appearance with Runrig, in front of 13,000 fans, in August.

He said: “I have watched with enormous interest the fantastic success of HebCelt as it has grown year on year and I am absolutely thrilled to have been invited to perform at next year’s festival.

“I have a very deep affinity with Lewis going back over many years now, from my earliest performances with Runrig in places like Ness Hall, Back Community Centre, the Hanger at Stornoway Airport and of course the Stornoway Town Hall itself and more recently at An Lanntair.

“Lewis is a great island with a real passion for music and a huge musical heritage, producing many fine musicians and performers over the years. Performing in Lewis was always an exciting prospect and I am really looking forward to sharing in that experience at HebCelt.’

Old-time roots musicians Gordie MacKeeman & and His Rhythm Boys, from Prince Edward Island, were given the Galaxie Supernova Award at the 2012 Ottawa Folk Festival for outstanding live performance. They also received two Music PEI awards for Roots/Traditional Group of the Year and Instrumental Recording of the Year in 2011.

The band said: “We are absolutely honoured to have a slot at HebCelt 2014. We’ve been fortunate to tour the UK several times recently, and we always enjoy discovering new places and bands alike. Being islanders ourselves, I’m sure we’ll feel right at home at HebCelt 2014.”

The Open Day Rotation, is an eight and, sometimes, 15-piece band fronted by singer/songwriter Willie Campbell, formerly of guitar pop outfit Astrid and Glasgow collective The Reindeer Section. Willie’s debut Gaelic album ‘Dalma’ is due for release in 2014 featuring songs written by himself and Calum Martin, with lyrical contribution from Kevin Macneil.

Willie said: “We’re so delighted to be included in HebCelt 2014 line-up. Playing on the main stage feels like a step up for us and an opportunity we intend to make the most of.

“I have an album of Gaelic songs coming out in March with a similar sound to the Rotation, so with three albums of material to choose from, we’ll go for songs that will make the best of the larger space and our expanding line-up”

Last month HebCelt was hailed as one of the greenest festivals in the world after winning a prestigious environmental award.

It was the only Scottish festival to receive an Outstanding award from environmental campaign group A Greener Festival. It was also shortlisted in the Greener Festival category in the UK Festival Awards, alongside nine other festivals, including Glastonbury.

Earlier this year, HebCelt was selected for the third year in succession as one of the top ten UK summer festivals by music magazine Songlines and was shortlisted in the Best Independent Festival category in the AIM Independent Music Awards.

In 2011 it was ranked Best Large Festival at the industry-sponsored Scottish Event Awards and it won Best Event of the Year award at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards in 2004 and 2009.