I am thrilled to bits that the Summer Isles Festival has been nominated for Community Project of the Year at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards!
I started the festival three years ago, it is a registered charity, run entirely by volunteers and it is held in the Coigach Community Hall overlooking the Summer Isles. During the day there are food stalls selling local produce, cookery demonstrations, music sessions, music and art workshops, screenings of local interest films and displays of local artwork and at 5pm the concert and ceilidh begins. Over the last three years bands such as Niteworks, Shooglenifty, Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers, Hunter and the Bear, James Graham, Rachel Newton, Halcyon, Rura and many more have played at the festival.
Growing up in Achiltibuie I received regular piping tuition from PM Norman Gillies and the piping scene in the Highlands is very strong. Other than the occasional Fèis Rois workshops, there was not anywhere nearby to get accordion lessons so I learned most about playing the accordion from joining local sessions with players such as Ali Beag Macleod, Al Fraser and Margaret Starling at the helm. A lot of visitors to the festival come mainly for the afternoon music session. To see young and old musicians, locals and folk from far away joining in and playing music together makes for a very special session.
Motivation for running the festival has come from a few different places. One of my initial reasons was to be able to bring great bands to Achiltibuie and hear them with a high quality sound system and brilliant sound engineers. I think food, music and art complement each other really well and it has always been a dream to combine these elements into one event. Within the community there are many brilliant artists, musicians, chefs, local food producers and the festival is fast becoming a great platform to show off this strong creative community.
“celebrating our community, our enthusiasm and our cultural identity, through top quality music, local produce, arts and crafts.`’
This year the Summer Isles Festival Youth Fund has been set up which aims to support young people living in the Coigach area with creative aspirations. Hopefully in years to come this fund will mean that even more local talent can be showcased at the festival!
Next year’s festival will take place on the 29th August. Here’s to the 4th successful Summer Isles Festival! Tickets will be available online and at Achiltibuibe Artists Gallery at the beginning of next year.