The multi-award winning HebCelt returns for its 20th annual festival during 15 – 18 July 2015. This unique event is set against one of the most atmospheric backdrops, the Scottish Hebridean island of Lewis with its distinctive Gaelic culture and heritage.
And what makes this event special? Simply the music you will hear which encompasses Celtic cultures tinged with contemporary traditional, rock, indie-folk and world influences. The setting in Stornoway’s Lews Castle grounds which offers access to the wider natural beauty and archaeological treasures the area has to offer. And the island community who reach out and offer a welcoming hand to all to make this one of the most special experiences.
The Hebridean Celtic Festival (Scottish Gaelic: Fèis Cheilteach Innse Gall) is an international Celtic music festival, which takes place annually in Stornoway on Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Many other acts take part in the event, including visiting international artists, solo artists and local musicians. The main arena is situated on the Castle Green, in front of Lews Castle. Other events take place in the An Lanntair arts centre and elsewhere in Stornoway. There are also concerts in the villages of Borve and Breasclete in Lewis, and Northton in Harris.
Organised largely by a dedicated volunteer force, the event established in 1996 has seen growth over the intervening years. Over and above the music, the Festival also offers workshops, street arts, Gaelic storytelling, language tasters, and opportunities to explore the rich culture and heritage of the Outer Hebrides. A more recent addition is an annual inter island shinty match (a field hockey game) for the Hebcelt Trophy, played for the first time in 2007.
First Acts Announced ...
A band that can boast to having had Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant and Sinéad O'Connor in their line-up will be one of the main attractions at this summer’s 20th anniversary Hebridean Celtic Festival.
The Grammy-nominated Afro Celt Sound System, who are also marking their 20th year in 2015, are a group that 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".
Musician, composer and producer of the band, James McNally, said: "Afro Celt Sound System are delighted to be heading back to Lewis to perform at Heb Celt 20. It is one of our favourite festivals on the planet. We know that 2015 is a very special year for the festival with it being the 20th anniversary and the main reason we wanted to celebrate with you all is that it's our own 20th anniversary too. Let's just say it's going to be one hell of a party."
Glasgow-based Treacherous Orchestra, who were nominated in the Best Group section in the 2013 Radio 2 Folk Awards, will also be on stage (along with Highland outfit The Elephant Sessions, named as Up and Coming Artists of the Year at last year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards).
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."
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."
Photo Credits: (1) HebCelt logo (unknown/website); (2) Afro Celt Sound System (by Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup); (3) Treacherous Orchestra (by Walkin' Tom); (4) Éamonn Coyne (by Festival Interceltique de Lorient).