In the Hebrides

On Friday morning we set off from Ibrox around 7:30am, up through Fort William, over the Skye Bridge at Kyle, up to Uig (which promptly reminded me of a middle-aged shirtless arm-wrestler grimacing to the sound of a conga drum… but that’s another story) and then the boat from Uig to Tarbert.  It was a beautiful, calm crossing and the sun was shining.   The rest of the band (Breabach) spotted some dolphins on the way, and I was reeling as we sailed right past the village of Urgha, Harris.

Approaching Urgha 2My paternal Great Grandmother (Christina) was a Mackinnon from Urgha Beag.  I have not yet managed to visit this area on foot but, observing the stark hills and coastline from the boat made me think of how it might have been for her growing up in this location.  She left Harris as a young adult and made her way to start a new life in British Colombia in the early 1900’s.

Boat docked, James Mackenzie was in Tarbert to meet us with a van and we shot up the road to Stornoway, Isle of Lewis to take part in the amazing and renowned Hebridean Celtic Festival.  The band have performed at the festival before in the past but it is no less thrilling to be in Lewis, playing on the mighty ‘Heb Celt’ stage at the foot of the castle grounds to an anually packed tent-full of folk.Festival from Hotel 2

We stayed very near by (see pic from my hotel room) at the Royal Hotel, this is where my grandpa Malcolm MacCrimmon and grandma Mairi (nee Chisholm) celebrated their marriage in 1945.  My grandma originally hailed from the village of Grabhair (pronounced Gravir) in South Lochs.  She sailed for Quebec City in January 1946 to meet her new husband Malcolm, took the train out west together started a family and lived out the remainder of their lives.

Saturday morning came like a slap in the face.  We got up early and made the trip back down to Tarbert, boat to Uig and then drove to Minginish in Portnalong, Isle of Skye.  I had never been to this specific part of the island, although it is not at all far (as the crow flies) to Dunvegan and Borreraig where the ancient MacCrimmon’s taught for many generations and held the post as pipers to MacLeod of Dunvegan.  The show in Minginish Community Hall was in complete and total contrast to our festival-sized Heb Celt experience on the Friday night.  There were loads of local folk as well as a bus load of visiting Germans all squished into the hall for a night of piping, singing and dancing – It was a brilliant evening!  We just love playing in village halls…especially in the far reaches of rural Scotland.  It was a lovely and memorable experience to be part of.

Minginish Show Malin and Seumas 4Playing before us were Malin Lewis and Seumas Maclennan, two wonderful Skye musicians.  I was very excited by the innovative piping of Malin Lewis who performed a range of traditional and contemporary tunes on a set of self-made two octave smallpipes.  A stunning sound, considered delivery on the instrument and a very exciting and unique young musician all round, worth keeping an eye out for.

Post-show session at the Old Inn, Carbost

Carbost Session 2

Cheers for now,
Calum

Summer so far…

Summer 2019 is well and truly underway!  I had a fantastic time eating lobster and playing music with Breabach out at the one-of-a-kind Sark Folk Festival at the start of July and just this weekend we had a blast performing at Stonehaven Folk Festival alongside Malinky and Dowally.  A highlight for me was when Malinky joined us on stage and the whole room sang The Rolling Hills of the Borders together in the encore.  Raised the roof!  Here are some pictures of our Sark adventure:

 

 

Aside from live shows I was recently involved in the organising and tutoring School of Folk in Glasgow alongside Laura-Beth Salter, John Somerville and Adam Sutherland.  We ran a 3 day event incorporating instrumental lessons, folk band sessions, pub sessions and a ceilidh (and a raffle).  Lots of fun and we got to know a great bunch of folk from all over the UK.  Keep your eyes peeled for School of Folk 2020 – we hope to announce more  in December this year.

Next up this weekend, I will be up in Lewis with Breabach for the Hebridean Celtic Festival (or Heb Celt) and then a show in Minginish Community Hall, Isle of Skye.  It’s supposed to bucket down – but a few drams and we’ll not be caring!

More news and pics in August,

Calum

Book Launch at Piping Live

Dad and I are delighted to announce the release of our collaborative book of pipe tunes ‘A MacCrimmon Collection’ at Piping Live this August.  We will be doing a little bit of a Q+A with John Mulhearn of The Big Music Society as well as performing a few of the tunes included in the book.  Come along and join us in the Piping Centre Auditorium. 3.30pm on Thursday 16th August 2018.

For more information please visit https://pipinglive.co.uk/events/a-maccrimmon-collection-book-launch-2018/