Solo session

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.

Festival marquee
In the marquee – tables!

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.

View from Crafty
View from the Crafty Distillery

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.

The Barrstools in the Crafty Distillery

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.