Wednesday 19th August 2015
There will be ample opportunity to dance the night away at Blas 2015, with three ceilidhs on the programme featuring the very best of Scottish dance bands who are appearing with other top performers.
The first takes place on the opening weekend of the festival in Dingwall where Fèis Rois Cèilidh Trail are joined by Rona Lightfoot, Ali Levack, Innes White and others. The largest of the 44 Fèisean in Scotland, Fèis Rois has been a trail-blazer for many years, inspiring and developing young musicians in Ross-shire and beyond through a comprehensive annual programme that encompasses three Fèisean, classes & workshops, Cèilidh Trails and work in schools through the Youth Music Initiative.
The dancers and ceilidh-goers then are spoilt for choice on the closing Friday of the festival, September 11 when Cathy Ann MacPhee, Royal National Mòd Traditional Gold Medallist Ruaraidh Cormack, Strath Gaelic Choir and the Robert Nairn Dance Band will have the toes tapping and the boards rattling.
The Robert Nairn Highland Dance Band hail from the North West corner of the county of Argyll and their music encapsulates the Gaelic, piping and dance traditions of their district and the Highlands as a whole. The button box-led band have won ‘Scottish Dance Band of the Year’ at the MG Alba Trad Awards in 2011 and have made four appearances on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Take the Floor’ since 2011.
One of Gaeldom’s greatest ever singing voices, tradition bearer Cathy Ann grew up on the island of Barra, steeped in the language and culture of her family. Now living in Canada, she performs and teaches regularly throughout North America and Europe where her stories and song create an engaging tapestry of Gaelic song and life.
Further north, in Strathy, Fergie Macdonald, and his band, accompanied by Huradal and Fèis in an Oir will be supplying the dancing delights. Fergie is another Blas veteran celebrating a significant milestone as he marks his 60th anniversary. Fergie formed his very first band in 1955 and is widely credited with introducing ceilidh music to the world, with radio and television performances and 35 albums to his credit. In 2014, Fergie’s song “The Shinty Referee” reached number 1 in the World iTunes Charts, becoming the first traditional music artist in Scotland to do so.
Huradal brings together four traditional young musicians and dancers from across Scotland in a dynamic ensemble which showcases the rhythmical links between puirt-à-beul (Gaelic mouth music) and step dance. Dancers Sophie Stephenson and Mari Britton are joined by Mòd Gold Medalist Eilidh Munro (clàrsach/vocals) and Robbie Greig (fiddle/guitar).
Established 11 years ago as a result of The Highland Council’s desire to create a festival that would match the vitality of Cape Breton’s Celtic Colours, the Blas festival is now an international event showcasing Highland culture and its continuing success has been welcomed by the Scottish Government and Highland Council.
Blas 2015 will take place at venues across the Highlands and Argyll between 4 and 12 September.
Tickets for all Blas events can be bought online, or by phone, with details on the festival’s websitewhere further information is available on the full programme of events.