Sunday, October 10, 2010

Perthshire Amber

A castle, a cathedral, an ancient crannog: these, and a range of equally interesting venues, will host music during the Perthshire Amber Festival, which is coming up 29 October through 7 November. It’s not so much about the venue, though, inviting as those may be, as it is about the music and the connections formed between musicians and those who come to hear them.

dougie maclean copyright calum macintoshDougie MacLean, who is a native of Perthshire, is host of the festival. One of his reasons for starting the event several years back was that he wanted to play his music in a situation connect with audiences over time, to revisit old favorites and lesser often played material from his musical history without having to stop at the end of a two hours concert.. At first this was a weekend event, as Dougie drew from his decades long catalogue of wide ranging songs. As friends came to listen and to sit in, and as Dougie met more musical friends in his touring, a longer festival came to bel.

Perthshire Amber always includes a number of musicians you’ve met here along the music road, and this year that is true as well. Irish band Grada will bring their lively band of boundary crossing trad along, while old friends guitarist Kris Drever and banjo player Eamonn Coyne will offer what's sure to be energetic and creative collaboration, Crooked Still, the US based progressive bluegrass band who has been delighting audiences worldwide, will be on hand, and top notch singer Julie Fowlis will bring her engaging style with Gaelic song. Songs in Scottish Gaelic will likely be part of Karen Matheson’s set, as well, and Michael McGoldrick will be on hand with flutes and whistles, Aly Bain, Ale Moller, and Bruce Molsky will form an international fiddler’s trio, and Fred Morrison will bring along his pipes. There will be other international and Scottish artists, as well.

Artists and visitors to Perthshire Amber will be giving back, too. While touring in the United States, Dougie was asked to play a benefit for a food bank, with audience members bringing along non perishable goods to be passed along to organizations which help those in need. He was struck by the idea, and now people coming to the festival in Perthshire are able to do the same by participating in Amber Harvest, with goods going to Cyrenians FareShare Project, who help feed Scotland’s homeless.

There’s also The Big Knit, a program spearheaded by Dougie’s mother Dolly. All during the year, knitters from near and far make squares which are made into warm blankets and other items. These are then auctioned off at the festival, with proceeds going to benefit Shelter Scotland.

Some of those knitters might be catching a ride on one of the song bus excursions offered, as visitors travel to highlights of Perthshire along with musicians who bring the scenes alive for them. They might be talking workshops and talks and sessions as well, as the festival unfolds.

Autumn is a lovely time to be in highland Perthshire, and the music and craic on offer during Perthshire Amber are sure to be grand. There is more information about all this at the festival’s web site.. Can’t make it to the festival? Last year you could buy a ticket to watch some of the concerts live online, and word is that may be a possibility this year as well. Check out for developments

photographs courtesy of the festival and the artists. the photograph of Dougie MacLean was taken by Calum MacIntosh

you may also wish to see
more on Dougie MacLean
photographing music: Celtic Colours
Music Road: Grada: Natural Angle

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4:34 PM  

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