Calum Macdonald’s favourite memory of the Hebridean Celtic Festival does not feature him playing on stage, but drifting on the sea.
The Scottish rock legends will mark HebCelt’s 21st birthday next week by making their fourth headline appearance at the Stornoway event where they are regarded as royalty.
Calum, one of the band’s founder members, recalls a memorable visit in 2000 which ended with him joining drummer Iain Bayne on a fast RIB to Ullapool as his wife was about to give birth.
“There are so many musical memories at HebCelt over the years, but my stand-out memory is non-music related. Iain’s first child Erin was imminent and his wife was heading towards the labour suite, so a speedy solution was arranged to get him back home.
“It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I just had to hitch a ride as well. It was a beautiful Hebridean night with a full moon and the Minch was flat calm. Half way across, rib owner Woody cut the engine and we just sat there for a moment in the stillness. Unforgettable.”
Runrig, who are in the HebCelt Hall of Fame for their outstanding contribution to Celtic music, regard HebCelt as a ‘homecoming’ gig in the heartland of Gaeldom. They will close the four-day event on Saturday, 16 July during a nationwide tour in support of their 14th - and last - studio album, ‘The Story’.
“HebCelt is very close to our hearts and each time we return is always special”, said Calum. “We have such an obvious affinity with the music and the place - the Hebrides being the source and inspiration of so much of our material over the years.
“For us, it is quite simply the chance to perform a homecoming gig. When the festival first started we were very excited, because we immediately saw an opportunity to be able to bring the band back to the Western Isles. That’s now happened three times, and each time the experience has been very special for us all.
“We’ve watched the festival grow over the years to a point where it is firmly established and a massive contribution to Scottish and Gaelic cultural life.”
News that Runrig were to headline the ‘coming of age’ festival quickly led to a scramble for tickets among their faithful following. Saturday night and the festival weekend sold out in record time .
After HebCelt, Runrig will be playing another hugely popular gig at another familiar venue for them - Edinburgh Castle.