We had arranged to be down in Galloway for the Newton Stewart and Minnigaff Traditional Music and Dance festival weekend this year. We hadn’t been before so I had looked at the website in advance to see where sessions would be, and what concerts might be interesting.
I thought we would start on the Friday at the Bruce Hotel – the website said sessions from 3pm (and all weekend). We went and it was a bit quiet – though they were very happy for me to start playing and wait for other musicians. It turned out that I had a session all to myself! No-one else turned up all afternoon – so I had a good practice of a lot of tunes before we ordered some food to eat before moving on.
After eating we set off through the town for the Creebridge House Hotel where the festival is based – the evening concert was in the marquee there. There was a session underway in the hotel so I joined in for a wee while before we headed out for the evening concert. We had been warned that a year or two ago the sound in the marquee hadn’t been very good, but it was absolutely fine for the evening concert. It began with Hannah Rarity who I had last seen in Celtic Connections, winning the BBC Radio Scotland Young Trad musician of the year. She was brilliant – a fantastic voice – and she had a good backing duo as well. The second act was LAS, an Irish – Scottish five piece band who play, sing and dance; a really great group. The headline act was Tim Edey who many people had clearly come to hear. I was a bit underwhelmed; he’s a very polished player and a real showman, but his arrangements can be positively weird – I really don’t like trad folk mixed up with jazz and Johann Sebastian Bach, especially all in one set! Probably my snooty classical music training coming through …. 🙂
The concert started late (more than half an hour late!) and finished after 11pm, so we headed back to our humble caravan so I could have a drink 🙂
The following day we went to the afternoon session at the Creebridge House Hotel, which was very enjoyable (even if we did have to have the England – Sweden match on the TV without sound – my Swedish ribbon is still firmly attached to the nyckelharpa!). Later we went to a concert at a new venue, the Crafty Distillery which makes (at least) gin but has a tremendous outlook over Newton Stewart and the local hills.
There was just one act, the Barrstools, a really entertaining band from South Ayrshire that we really enjoyed. They perform quite a range of material but in a tremendously joyful and enthusiastic way – great fun.
We didn’t go to anything on the Sunday – it was another glorious day and we went for a walk, and I managed another swim. We will go to the festival again though – I might take both fiddle and nyckelharpa next time.