FolkWorld #60 07/2016
© Hebridean Celtic Festival

Atlantic Blast

21st Hebridean
Celtic Festival

13 - 16 July 2016

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis,
Outer Hebrides of Scotland
Blue Rose Code
Eddi Reader
Hayseed Dixie
John McCusker Band
Julie Fowlis
Ó hEadhra and Mackenzie
Red Hot Chilli Pipers
Whisky Kiss
Artist Video 20th Hebridean
Celtic Festival 2015

The Atlantic Blast show will feature some of the areas’ most famous piping tunes from the likes of PM Donald Macleod, to more modern compositions, whilst exploring the links between pipe music and song.

‘Blast’ had its first outing during the festival’s 15th anniversary and went onto star at Celtic Connections in 2011. Featuring the considerable talents of Calum Alex MacMillan (Pipes, Whistles/Vocals), Norrie Maciver (Guitar/Vocals), James Duncan Mackenzie (Pipes/Whistles/Flute) and D C Macmillan (Drums). The cast will also feature emerging local talent through the inclusion of Stephen Drummond (Accordion) and Jayne Macleod (Stepdance).

Eddi Reader

John McCusker, Eddi Reader

Artist Video John McCusker @ FolkWorld:
FW#6, #17, #26, #60

Artist Video Eddi Reader @ FolkWorld: FW#60

With a career spanning over 3 decades, Eddi Reader has effortlessly developed into one of popular music’s most thrilling and affecting performers. Though first brought into the limelight as front woman for Fairground Attraction - whose #1 single, Perfect and parent album, First of a Million Kisses, both topped the British charts, it was Eddi’s subsequent solo albums that signalled her ability to assimilate different musical styles and make them all very much her own. In particular, The Songs of Robert Burns was a timeless interpretation showcasing the poems of Scotland’s national bard and gained her an MBE for outstanding contributions to the arts.

What sets Eddi apart is the depth and quality of the emotional performance and ability not only to move the listener, but to connect her experience to that of her audience. From the traditional to the contemporary, Eddi Reader extinguishes the preordained boundaries of genre, bringing joyous life to all forms of song. Her rare blend of meltingly true vocals and towering romanticism combine with an astute and pragmatic nature to make her a unique and powerful figure in contemporary British music.

John McCusker Band

"One of the UK’s most gifted and versatile musicians in any genre, John McCusker is equally in demand as a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer". The Guardian

Born in Bellshill, near Glasgow, John began playing whistle & fiddle as a child, and joined the legendary folk outfit Battlefield Band aged 17. During his 11 years with the band, John also released his first two solo recordings, 1995’s self-titled debut and 2000’s Yella Hoose. John went on to win Radio 2 Musician of the Year in 2003 and also The Sprit of Scotland Award for music in 1999 and again in 2009.

While emerging via the folk scene, John has long been renowned for his skill at transcending musical boundaries. As a live and studio guest he has shared stages with Bonnie Raitt, Patti Smith, Steve Earle, Rosanne Cash, Paolo Nutini and Jools Holland, and featured on recordings by Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene, Teenage Fanclub & Idlewild. Film and TV work includes soundtracks for the movie Heartlands (2002) & 16 Years of Alcohol (2003), Billy Connolly’s World Tour of New Zealand (2004), Jennifer Saunders BBC sitcom Jam and Jerusalem (2008) & Starlings (2012) sitcom for Sky TV. His most recent albums include Under One Sky & the reissues of Yella Hoose & Goodnight Ginger re-mastered deluxe edition. Other recent activities include a traditional touring project with Celtic music stars Michael McGoldrick and John Doyle, a songwriting trio with Kris Drever & Roddy Woomble.

Julie Fowlis

Artist Video Julie Fowlis @ FW:
FW#31, #34, #41,
#42, #45, #54

In 2007 John was jointly commissioned by the Celtic Connections festival and Cambridge Folk Festival to compose Under One Sky, uniting Scottish and English musicians of different genres, from Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis to Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. John has been a member of Mark Knopfler's band since 2008, playing arenas around the world including a double bill with Bob Dylan at The Hollywood Bowl & 20 nights at The Royal Albert Hall.

John’s expanding portfolio as a producer includes debut albums by Kris Drever and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble. He’s also manned the controls for top folk chanteuses Eddi Reader, Heidi Talbot, Eliza Carthy & Linda Thompson. In 2013 John performed as a soloist with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Proms in the Park, playing his own compositions live on BBC TV. 2016 will see John Celebrate 25 years as a professional musician, publishing a book of his compositions, releasing a new solo record & embarking on an extensive UK & European tour.

The John McCusker band features some of the finest traditional musicians and singers in the UK : Andy Cutting, Adam Holmes, Innes White & Toby Shaer.

Julie Fowlis

Julie Fowlis is a multi-award winning Gaelic singer who is deeply influenced by her early upbringing in North Uist. With a solo career spanning ten years and four studio albums, her 'crystalline' and 'intoxicating' vocals have enchanted audiences around the world.

Julie first played the festival as a nervous teenager in 1999 and her relationship with HebCelt audiences has grown as she has developed into one of the foremost champions of Gaelic music and culture.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Artist Video Red Hot Chilli Pipers @ FolkWorld:
FW#39, #42, #43, #44 #45, #53, #57

Nominated as 'Folk Singer of the Year' at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and 'Best Artist' at the Songlines World Music Awards 2015, Julie is a warm and engaging live performer who has graced stages around the globe, from village halls in the Highlands to theatres in Paris and Vienna, London and New York, to singing live at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games in 2014, to a TV audience of over 1 billion people. We are delighted to welcome her ‘home’.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Taking their signature ‘Bagrock’ sound to the masses, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers have become a global phenomenon, rocking far-flung shores from Melbourne to Milwaukee and everywhere in between.

Bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show so hot it carries its own health warning. The band’s achievements have reached incredible heights with their ground-breaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and Rock/Pop Anthems which they proudly call ‘Bagrock’.


Artist Video Rura @ FolkWorld:
FW#48, #48, #50, #51, #57, #58

They have a pool of the very best musicians from Scotland and across the globe - many holding World Champion titles and all serious players with impressive credentials and qualifications. The Chillis have never been more in demand for their infectious style of feel good music which appeals right across the age range to people all over the world.


Live Act of the Year at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards, RURA are "one of the most exciting bands on the Scottish folk scene" (Songlines).

With their second album, 2015's Despite the Dark, accompanied by extensive UK and international touring, RURA have well and truly reinforced their reputation as one of Scotland’s most powerful folk-based bands. Their exquisitely rugged, yet refined blend of fiddle, highland pipes, voice, flute, bodhran and guitar has proven a resounding hit across the board.

Bruce Guthro

Artist Video Runrig @ FolkWorld:
FW#6, #10, #24, #54

The five-piece’s fire first ignited in 2010, as award-winners at Glasgow’s world-renowned Celtic Connections festival, where they have now appeared on a remarkable seven consecutive occasions. Since then, Steven Blake, Adam Brown, David Foley, Adam Holmes and Jack Smedley’s powerful instrumentals and haunting songcraft has been a highlight of many of the world’s leading folk festivals – including Cambridge, Tønder, Winnipeg, HebCelt and Shetland, amongst countless others.

They are undeniably one of Scotland’s most sought-after, universally appealing acts. One listen – live or recorded – and it’s easy to see why.


What can we say that hasn’t already been said about RUNRIG? Their 40+ year career is the stuff of legends and we are absolutely thrilled that they are taking the next chapter of ‘The Story’ to HebCelt audiences.


Artist Video Talisk @ FolkWorld:
FW#57, #58

Their powerful blend of music has grown and developed over the years but the band has never lost sight of the Gaelic roots that gave life to their music. Their songs are anthems for our time, stirring the hearts and the minds of music fans the world over.

At home on a Hebridean stage, RUNRIG are always at their passionate, crowd rousing best. As Rory said: "Of all the festivals we have played there is no doubt that HebCelt stands alone in the band’s experience. It is the festival that is closest to the music and the people that inspired us. It is very much home ground."


Winners of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, Talisk have already made a big impression on the folk music scene since their formation in August last year. The group also won a coveted Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections 2015 and have performed live in session on BBC Radio 2.

Mohsen Amini (Concertina), Hayley Keenan (Fiddle) and Craig Irving (Guitar) utilise their strong individual backgrounds in Irish and Scottish music to create an award winning sound. The trio’s engaging and energetic performances have already landed them slots at some of Britain’s biggest festivals, including Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections and Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival.

Photo Credits: (1) John McCusker & Eddi Reader, (2) Julie Fowlis, (3) Red Hot Chilli Pipers, (4) RURA, (5) Bruce Guthro (Runrig), (6) Talisk (unknown/website).

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