25 April 2012

Boutique-licious: A Guide To Scotland's Independent Music Festivals

I don't about you guys, but I fell out of love with big festivals a long time ago. Getting drunk in a crowded field, whilst drinking over priced watered down beer, just doesn't have the same appeal as it once did. Having been to a few festivals on the continent, and the short lived Indian Summer Festivals, took the shine off things that little bit for me. I guess I am not alone in feeling this way, as in recent years the number of independent festivals that have sprung up across Scotland is really quite phenomenal. With a focus on quality homegrown products (both in terms of bands and produce), the emergence of so many new independent Scottish music festivals is something that I can't sing highly enough about. So if you're sick of sharing a field with 85,000 other people, then you should get yourself along to one of these...

Brew At The Bog

When?  Saturday the 5th of May

Where? Bogbain Farm just outside of Inverness

Who's Playing?  Highlights include Washington Irving, Endor, Over The Wall, The Seventeenth Century and many many more cracking Scottish bands

How Much?  £10.00 to £45.00

What makes your festival so special?

Yvonne Murray (Brew at the Bog organiser) Brew at the Bog has been described by the Scotsman as one of the top 5 boutique festivals in Scotland...and the festival hasn't even taken place yet! There's 3 things I think that will make Brew at the Bog stand head and shoulders above anything else this year.  The lineup is a knockout, Bogbain Farm is shaping to be one of the brightest new venues in the country and is only 5mins from Inverness, and BrewDog are supplying the tastiest beers you're ever likely to drink.  

Who are you most looking forward to seeing?  

YM - That's not fair! How can I pick anyone over the other - I seriously think our lineup is pretty special and I swear I am so looking forward to hearing everyone. I just need to make sure we are so organised beforehand that we can relax a bit during the festival! However, I have really been enjoying Bensh, who are an Austrian/Welsh band and so I think that'll be pretty cool! Also looking forward to seeing folk having an ace time at Bogbain!

Kilmarnock's Dirty Weekender

When?  Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd of June

Where?  Kilmarnock

Who's Playing?  Highlights include We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Lafontaines and Rod Jones of Idlewild fame, plus many more

How Much?  £12 - 25

What makes your festival so special and who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Ben Grant from The Indiebendent "For me Kilmarnock's Dirty Weekender is special because the Dirty Weekender is an independently organised and funded festival that literally has something for everyone. So many different genres from Ska to heavy rock or maybe some acoustic goodness inbetween. 
Personally I'm looking forward to finally catch The LaFontaines in the flesh aswell as seeing This Silent Forest and Julia And The Doogans for first time in a long while. Another one to watch out for is local acoustic singer songwriter Sean Kennedy he's been away working hard writing some new material so I'm excited to see what comes of his hard work."

Downhill Downtown

When?  Friday 8th - Saturday 9th of June

Where?  The Nevis Centre, Fort William

Who's Playing?  King Creosote, The Phantom Band, Admiral Fallow, Stanley Odd, Bwani Junction and a lot more

How Much?  £6:00 - £17:50 (+booking fee)

What makes your festival so special and who are you most looking forward to seeing? 

Derick Mackinnon (New Found Sound)  "I think it's more to do with the fact we're programming music alongside the Mountain Bike World Cup, rather than being a stand alone, unique music festival. The UCI World Cup is one of the biggest and most established sporting events in the UK, combined with some of Scotland's most exciting and respected artists it all adds up to a real celebration of Scottish culture surrounded by the stunning landscapes that Fort William has to offer I'm looking forward to the whole thing, the mountain biking as well as the artists."

The Insider Festival

When?  Friday 15th - Sunday 17th of June

Where?  Inshriach House, Aviemore

Who's Playing?  Highlights include Meursault, Stanley Odd, Optimo, The Little Kicks and much much more.

How Much?  £25 - £100

What makes your festival so special and who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Walter Micklethwait (Inshriach House)  "I guess what makes is special is the care and attention that go into it, from the food to the theme to the line up to to the way everything is designed and built. Its a complete a labour of love and each year it evolves but at the same time it doesn't shout too much about it, I like the way people respond to that. Three years practise mean its going to be a really polished operation this year and the Olympiad idea offers almost limitless comedic scope.  

Tunes wise it might be time to sneak off into the woods and complete my Glasgow education with Optimo who i have never seen... Kan are always great (Friday) and the despots and dictators ball on Sunday night ought to round things off in dapper style with the Loveboat Big band. We are probably just about to announce the full line up. "

Solas Festival

When?  Friday 22nd - Sunday 24th of June

Where? Wiston by Biggar, South Lanarkshire

Who's Playing?  Highlights include Admiral Fallow, Stanley Odd, Washington Irving, plus loads more

How Much?  £15-85

What makes your festival so special and who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Leanne Clelland (Solas Festival organiser) "Solas Festival does seem to engender that feeling of being special - and each year we are surprised and delighted by that. 
Perhaps it's because it's a space for people at all stages of life. You'll not find anything that you're too young or too old to get involved in. And, the artists, festival-goers and volunteers all seem to revel in the unique, welcoming, relaxing space that comes together against the back-drop of the Summer Solstice.

We work really hard to make sure that people feel that they are doing more than just paying out their money to consume the arts. Solas Festival is a space were they can uncover the artist within themselves - be that in our open mic venues, unsigned stage or in the creative arts sessions. The festival is also more than just an arts festival but much more of a holistic event which has something for mind, body and soul.

I have a long, and growing, list of must-sees. I'm very excited about seeing Admiral Fallow in one of our intimate venues. 
But I'm also really curious about the unsigned stages. Last year, we had Rory Butler play at the festival and this last year has been a roller-coaster of success for him, including wining a Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections.  So, I'm really looking forward to seeing who might be the next star in the making from this year's as-yet unsigned talent.

And then there's a fantastically eclectic line-up from the traditional and folk music scene. Nic Gareiss is the world's pre-eminent trad dancer and will be joined by poets Padraig O'Tuama and Aonghas MacNeacail. Raghu Dixit - a name which might not mean a whole lot to you now - is about to take Scotland by storm with his incredible Indian folk sound. I've been listening to him on repeat while I'm working and his work is really bewitching.

I have a couple of young sons and they just can't wait for the freedom to ramble in the magical forest, catch tadpoles and listen to storytellers like Mrs Mash and Waste of Paint. And while they're off roaming, I might grab a nice cuppa and listen in to a talk by Andy Wightman or Sonya Sharma. Only a few weeks to go and we can't wait!"

Kelburn Garden Party

When?  Staurday 30th June - Sunday 1st July

Where? Kelburn Castle & Country Park near Largs

Who's Playing?  Highlights include The Phantom Band, Panda Su and Behold The Old Bear

How Much?  £68 (Includes camping and Under 13s Go Free)

What makes Kelburn so special?

David Boyle (Kelburn organiser)  "The quick answer is the sheer mind blowing beauty of the site and the creativity that it inspires, but really I think it's a combination of ingredients that come together to form an utterly unique event. Set in a lush country park by the sea, Kelburn is a wonderland like no other festival site and is the inspiration for The Garden Party. With a Graffiti Castle and the islands of the west coast as the backdrop and a dramatic wooded glen through the middle, with waterfalls to swim in and hidden gigs, workshops and outdoor theatre tucked away to discover, there is no festival experience that can match it.  The programming is inclusive, open minded and always exceptional but after 3 years we, like our festival fans, take that for granted. With a focus on supporting the best in Scottish talent, there’s everything from swing jazz and rock and roll to cutting edge dubstep and underground DJs, acoustic sessions and ceilidhs to indie and hip hop. This sensory overload is enriched through details in magical lighting installations, floating lanterns, barrel fires and painstaking d├ęcor and underpinning it all there is an intangible yet unmissable vibe of creativity and collaboration, energy and love, and unadulterated fun.  Kelburn is only great, can only be great, because of the team of artists, contributors and volunteers who insist on creating the best festival in Scotland. That care and hard work is easy to sense but difficult to describe. You'll have to come and find out for yourself.  

What am I most looking forward to see?  

There is so much I can’t wait to see this year but the most magical moments for me, and what makes Kelburn Garden Party so special are the secret hidden gigs: The orchestra in the walled gardens, the ska band in the glen, or the drum circle high on the hill looking out over the islands. The intimate atmosphere at these one off sumptuous locations is overwhelming and not to be missed - if you can find them!  In truth though, when people manage to transcend the mundanities and weariness of life and become truly alive, you can see it in there eyes and feel it lifting the mood around them. I don't know any event that is as friendly or as fun as Kelburn and that's entirely thanks to our festival fans, so really, it's them whom we are most look forward to seeing.

The Big Tent Festival

When?  Saturday 21st - Sunday 22nd of July

Where? Falkland in Fife (just north of Glenrothes)

Who's Playing?  Highlights include The Proclaimers, Karine Polwart, Woodenbox, plus a lot more.

How Much?  £30 - 155

What makes your festival so special and who are you most looking forward to seeing?
Angela Michael (The Big Tent Festival organiser)  "...well lots of things but probably the beautiful historic setting of Falkland Estate teamed with all the extra activities and debates on the environment as well as a diverse music line up and the great food.  Big Tent is also very affordable, probably the best value boutique festival anywhere in the UK for families and groups….two stages, 30 music acts and lots of debate, speaker slots, poetry, songwriter sessions and lots of locally sourced organic food.  I am personally looking forward to the Federation of the Disco Pimps just because of the great name and the fact that they play funk infused big band music!...oh…and I am looking forward to the food…I go to lots of festivals and Big Tent has the best selection of food at any festival I have visited in a very long time."

Doune The Rabbit Hole

When?  Friday 22th- Sunday 26th of  August

Where? Duncarron Fort, Carron Valley (near Croy)

Who's Playing?  Highlights include The Phantom Band, Withered Hand, John Knox Sex Club and a shed load more

How Much?  £30 -78 (Under 12s go free)

What makes your festival so special and who are you most looking forward to seeing?
Jamie Murray (Doune The Rabbit Hole organiser)  "This year's Dtrh is going to be an ecstatic celebration of music and art. Despite all the great acts that are on board like Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells and the Phantom Band (look out for more headliners announced on May 7th!) I still think that the setting is the most remarkable thing about this year. We're in the Duncarron medieval fort which really is a site to behold, alongside a giant loch and river, within a forest and only 40 minutes from Glasgow and Edinburgh. On top of all that we've got a raft of caterers on board to tantalize your tastebuds as well as a cinema (featuring movies curated by the acts) and a devoted spoken-word stage within a giant medieval longhouse. It's going to be a pretty amazing weekend!"


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