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Artyness columnist and musician Liza Mulholland finds its festival fever time – and don't forget Fèis na h-Òige

By Margaret Chrystall

With Glastonbury just drawn to a close as I write this, I’m adding the festival to my bucket list.

Liza Mulholland
Liza Mulholland

I caught some of the television coverage and, oh my goodness, wasn’t this year stunning? I’d love to go one day, and wouldn’t it be an amazing experience to play there? Stornoway’s Peat & Diesel certainly looked like they were having a ball!

Somerset has not had a total monopoly on great music this weekend though because Inverness had its fair share. With the European Pipe Band Championships taking place in Inverness’s Bught Park, featuring hundreds of bands from around the world and thousands of pipers, the city was literally ringing with the glorious sound of massed bagpipes and what a visual spectacle it was too.

That same evening Inverness venues were awash with incredible music and musicians.

The wonderful Americana band The Felice Brothers played in the Botanic House and were simply fabulous. But the accordion player! I grant you he was a muscle-bound giant of a man, but the way he threw his accordion in the air and yanked the bellows wide open as if about to tear apart, was squeezebox showmanship like I’ve never seen before. On top of the physical theatrics, he was a brilliant player too.

Meanwhile Hoots was hosting the fantastic young band The Joshua Hotel, a new line-up headed by Josh Mackenzie. Josh is probably best known as the frontman of excellent and widely acclaimed Inverness band Lional, whose songwriting and musicianship belie their youth.

With The Joshua Hotel featuring sons of friends of mine, it’s certainly a stark reminder that I’m getting on in years, but how heartwarming to see the amount of young local talent coming through and making a name for themselves; I’ll make sure to be at their next gig.

And to top off an incredible musical Saturday, the one and only Maraan and the Wildcats performed in the Market Bar. Maraan Maraan is a larger-than-life personality, a stunning musician who only moved here recently but has been welcomed heartily into the Inverness family of musicians and music lovers.

His performances in the Market are fast becoming legendary and with the Wildcats featuring top stalwarts of the Inverness music scene, Ben Hesling, Robin Abbot and Dickie Bills, I defy anyone not to dance to their powerful driving sound. If you go to their next gig on July 22, listen out for his Boris Johnson song – it’s a catchy wee number!

Anna Massie and Mairearad Green. Anna curates some Under Canvas events this summer. Picture: Dylan Morrison
Anna Massie and Mairearad Green. Anna curates some Under Canvas events this summer. Picture: Dylan Morrison

The Under Canvas tents are now set up on Eden Court’s lawn, starting on July 1; isn’t it just wonderful that summer’s live festivals are under way again!

For youngsters who may dream of gracing a stage in the future, where better to learn and hone skills than at a Fèis? Inverness’s Gaelic-medium Fèis na h-Òige runs from July 4-8, with classes available for fives to 18.

Check it out! Sin e an drasd!

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