Thanks to funding from Argyll & Bute Council, the Blas Festival will be spreading its wings to Argyll and the Islands between 2 and 10 September extending its celebration of Gaelic culture.
A common passion for song from three Celtic nations will be evident in Bunessan, Mull on Friday 2 September in the guise of Aon Teanga. Translated as ‘one tongue’ one of Scotland’s most influential musicians, Mary Ann Kennedy, joins forces with Ruth Keggin, leading vocalist of the Manx Gaelic revival and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin from a renowned Connemara seann-nòs family. With Clare fiddler Ultan O’ Brien completing the line-up, their songs explore common Gaelic roots from the most ancient ballads to original contemporary writing.
On Wednesday 7 September, the Victoria Halls in Helensburgh will ring to the tunes of Box playing legend Sharon Shannon from County Clare, a superstar of Irish music who has toured with the Waterboys and enjoyed success featuring with Steve Earle on his world No1 song Galway Girl.
Sharon Shannon’s band will be complemented by a debut performance from an ensemble introducing the issues and concerns of women from time immemorial through Gaelic song, featuring 2014 National Mòd Gold Medallist Eilidh Cormack, Dàimh’s Ellen MacDonald and BBC ALBA continuity presenter, Ceitlin LR Smith, all accompanied by the talented guitarist, Innes White who has recently featured in the Mischa MacPherson Trio and John McCusker Band.
Sharon Shannon will then travel north to Oban for an appearance at the town’s Corran Halls on Friday 9 September. There she will be joined by Nuallan, a group of pipers formed in 2012 through Cape Breton’s Gaelic College to represent, promote and explore the Gaelic style of piping brought to Canada from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Also taking to the stage will be the Margaret Stewart Trio which, in addition to Gaelic singer Margaret, from Lewis, features piper Angus Nicolson from Skye and harpist Ingrid Henderson from Lochaber, all amongst the finest exponents of Gaelic music and song in Scotland today. Their new interpretations of piping-inspired songs and the ancient pibroch melodies adds a fresh and interesting twist to the canon of Highland music. A group of young musicians from Scotland and Ireland taking part in Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Guth na nGael project and Gaelic poet, Niall O’Gallagher, will complete the line-up as part of the festival’s long-standing collaboration with Comhairle nan Leabhraichean, the Gaelic Books Council.
The Blas foray into Argyll ends with a Cèilidh in Islay’s Ramsay Hall on Saturday 10 September where family connections will be to fore in the shape of Glenelg brothers Iain and Murdo Cameron, both of whom were brought up surrounded by cèilidh music and Gaelic. The boys play all over the country and abroad with many bands. Margaret Ford won several Gold Medals at National Mòds and has performed extensively live and on numerous TV and radio programmes. Her daughter, Joanne, has a keen interest in Gaelic music and language, has been playing fiddle since the age of 8 and was a member of the Lochaber Cèilidh Trail for two years.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Community and Culture, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “The Blas festival celebrates the rich culture and heritage we have here in Scotland and is a great way of promoting Gaelic. I am delighted that the Council’s contribution has enabled the event to expand into Argyll this year.”