Published: 22/07/2014 19:21 - Updated: 22/07/2014 19:40

Bella's UHI Verb Garden line-up

Special guest Monty Halls.
Special guest Monty Halls.

Festival-goers wanting to rest their musical ears and stimulate their grey cells should head to the UHI (University of Highlands & Islands) Verb Garden spoken word stage at Belladrum.

On August 8 and 9, a range of talks, topical debates, artist interviews and fun demonstrations have been programmed to ensure there is something for all ages over the course of the festival at the stage.

This year’s theme of "Wild Life" is a great fit for TV presenter, explorer and marine biologist, Monty Halls who is making an appearance.

And music fans can see favourite names interviewed over the two-day festival including Billy Bragg, no stranger to outspokenness; Adrian Edmondson on his experiences with Masterchef; and Grandmaster Flash on a career in hip hop. Meanwhile Scots media personality Lesley Riddoch will talk about her latest book, as will four young Scottish authors under the auspices of the Scottish Book Trust.

Tommy Sheridan, co-convenor of the left-wing Solidarity Party – who needs little introduction to Scots – will be in conversation with Sir Maxwell Macleod.

A series of four discussions chaired by BBC Radio Scotland presenter Gary Robertson will cover topics such as: the recent killing of birds of prey on the Black Isle; the independence debate; weight issues associated with the fashion industry; and climate change.

And sessions brought to the stage by Moniack Mhor Writers’ centre will feature Scots crime writer Christopher Brookmyre and Katie Morag creator Mairi Hedderwick.

As part of the festival’s commitment to young musicians, and in keeping with UHI’s music degree courses, there will be an industry panel for unsigned artists with guidance from Peter Noble (UHI Popular Music Performance lecturer) along with other industry professionals including; Michael Lambert (from recently established music management company A Modern Way) and Ally McCrae (radio DJ best known for presenting the BBC Introducing show on BBC Radio 1).

The focus will be on how new artists can develop their audience, manage their digital strategy, start to build an effective team, better monetise their output and attract interest from industry partners.

Festival-goers who would like to find out more about the university and its courses can visit the University of the Highlands and Islands trailer, which will be located next to the Verb Garden.


SIZE MATTERS: What needs to be done to make figures add up in the fashion industry? Scottish designer Sandra Murray MBE; Fiona Clarke, Senior health Improvement Specialist at NHS Highland (and co-ordinator of the Health At Every Size initiative) and Hannah Hardy, a model for Elite Agency. Chaired by BBC Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson

BLACK ISLE HAWKS DOWN: In the aftermath of the killing of red kites and buzzards on the Black Isle, a discussion on contemporary attitudes to raptors in the Scottish countryside and whether they need increased protection. Professor Des Thompson, SNH Principal Adviser on Biodiversity and UHI Honorary Professor; Sir John Lister-Kaye, conservationist and owner of Aigas Field Centre; landowner Alex Matheson; and Michael Wigan, writer on countryside affairs. Chaired by BBC Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, AT LEAST QUIT THE BITCHIN’: Climate change – are we bankrupting ourselves trying to fight it and would we be better agreeing how to adapt to it? Dr Eddie Graham, UHI Meteorologist from Stornoway; Calum Davidson, Director of Energy & Low Carbon at HIE; Andrew Montford, and John Shade, former fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society. Chaired by BBC Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson

THE MAKE AND BREAK: With the vote on Scotland’s future only weeks away, our panel takes a look at the pros and cons of independence. Professor Donna Heddle; John Finnie MSP and Dave Thompson MSP in the Yes camp’ and Rhoda Grant MSP, Mike Robb, Westminster candidate for Labour for Inverness and Councillor Kate Steven in the No camp. Chaired by BBC Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson

Up-close interviews:

Grandmaster Flash: The first hip-hop/rap artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grandmaster Flash is renowned as being a pioneer of the hip-hop DJ movement. Hear the Master himself discuss the techniques he invented that elevated DJing from a passive form of playback to the global phenomenon it is today.

Billy Bragg: Blending elements of folk music, punk rock and protest, Bragg, affectionately known as the "Bard of Barking", from whence he hails, has had a long and varied career. A left-wing activist and Glastonbury mainstay, his lyrically charged songs deal with all from politics to romance.

Adrian Edmondson: Much-loved comedian Edmondson formed his British folk band in 2008. They play punk songs on folk instruments. Mandolins, uilleann pipes, cittern and whistles combine in a tour de force that has seen the band nominated for best lLive act for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2010, and win for the same category in the 2012 Spiral Earth Awards.

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis: A three-piece band comprising the siblings of the Durham family, who do not use computers or any digital format during their recordings. Their music is influenced heavily by R&B, swing, jump blues, country and Western, blues, Hawaiian and some good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. They will discuss their journey to success in the digital era.

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