Well I can't believe that the Summer is finally over. I know that technically it was over a month ago but as a musician, my summer always lasts until the end of September. The end of September always marks the end of the busy "Summer schedule" and thankfully, I don't have as many gigs on during the week and I can get back to doing all the "normal things" that I've not done in a very long time. Such as getting back to the gym and cutting the grass behind the house.
I have to say though that I'm also very sad that the Summer madness has ended. It really does fly by when you're busy and this Summer was the busiest I've ever been. Filled with so many great gigs all over the country. Highlights this summer have to be.....
Heb Celt - Heb Celt this year was the busiest one I have ever had. I was playing every single night with different groups and I enjoyed every gig I did. This was also the first time I had played at Heb Celt with Skipinnish and it was amazing. We did our first show on the Friday night at An Lanntair to a sold out audience and it was brilliant fun. Then we had the main stage on the Saturday night. I was really worried that we wouldn't get a big crowd as we were playing at 4:45pm and normally it can be quite quiet at that time out at the site, but I was wrong. I couldn't believe my eyes when we walked out onto the stage to a full tent. It was the best crowd I had played to on the main stage there and the energy from the crowd gave the whole band a massive lift. We wanted to play all night but we had to get off so that Runrig could go on for their set :) Heb Celt never disappoints and I only wish that next year would be my 12th year in a row playing there but it looks like I'll miss it for the first time due to another big date in my diary :)
Tiree Music Festival - I love this festival. Great crowd and no matter how bad the weather is, it doesn't dampen the spirits of everyone there. I'm not going to lie, the trip we took over to Tiree was one of the worst experiences of my life though. Skipinnish have their own boat and the only way we could get from Heb Celt to Tiree on the Sunday was to brave the open water between Lochboisdale and Tiree on our own boat! It was so bad that a few of my band mates got really close to some buckets and, to avoid throwing up and damaging my voice, I stood outside the whole way over for 3 hours getting soaked and covered wave after wave. It certainly was an experience and one I hope to never repeat again.
Speyfest - Speyfest this year was my only solo gig and this was set to be my 3rd appearance at the festival. Since I had joined Skipinnish I wanted to give them my full attention this year and not take on any solo work but I already had Speyfest booked in from the previous year. This is a great festival and I was so happy that so many folk came out to hear me and the band. Brian, my piano player got a bit too excited and ripped his shirt open at the end of one of the songs. It was so hot on stage and he thought he had a t-shirt on underneath his shirt but I'm afraid he didn't. The ladies enjoyed it though!
Belladrum - This was going to be my second time on the main stage at Belladrum and the first with Skipinnish and it was a brilliant gig. The crowd were amazing and for me, there is nothing better than hearing an audience as big as that singing along to every word you sing. It's a brilliant feeling. It was also great that BBC Alba were filming the gig and we got to see it all back again. It was even better that the rain decided to stay away.
Shrewbury Folk Festival - I've played at a lot of English festivals through the years but this was one of the ones I had always heard great things about but had never played at. Skipinnish were asked a week before the festival to play there. Unfortunately this was due to a member of Shooglenifty being unwell and so the band had to pull out of the gig. Although the circumstances weren't the best, we were more than happy to go down and play our first ever English festival as the new Skipinnish. From the second we got down there we were looked after so well. The team they have there are fantastic and everything went so smoothly. Our first gig was on the main stage on Sunday afternoon and it was brilliant fun. The crowd seemed to enjoy the gig and they sang along as much as they could. Our second gig that night was on stage two and that was even better. A lot of folk had come to see us for a second time and there is a bit more room to dance over at stage two which was great for us as we love it when the crowd get up and dance along.
Blas - This year I went on tour at Blas with a new band I am involved with called Kilda. We are a three piece band that were put together for Live Music Now and we were fortunate enough to get asked to appear at the Blas Festival. Myself, Scott Wood and Mhairi Marwick had a great time touring around the Highlands and visiting schools and care homes. Blas is a great festival for taking bands and putting them in wee villages that normally wouldn't get a lot of live music or bands from all over the world. We were touring with a band form Cape Breton and the Highland crowds really enjoyed them. To relax we even managed to get out in Scott's kayak while we were up in Glenelg.
Other highlights from my Summer included getting to meet my niece for the first time. My sister and her husband live in Australia and they were over for a visit with little Andie. I was a bit worried that she would keep us up at night in the house but she was a little angel. She even managed out to one of my gigs and my voice was so soothing that it put her to sleep. Well, that's what I'm telling myself! Her parents said something different! :)
Lastly, myself and the skpinnish lads went into the studio to record our new single. This was really exciting for me as it's the first track we have done together as the new lineup. We still don't have a release date for it but once I know I'll post it up here. We went to Castlesound studio to record it which was great as I've been there many times before and we got to work with the brilliant Stuart Hamilton.
So that's my Summer folks. Hope you all had a great one too. Now we are looking forward to the festive season and I'm looking forward to getting started on the new Skipinnish album. Below are a few pics from the Summer fun!