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Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2017

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2017 **** The Scotsman |
20,000 fans agree – this was one of the best at Belladrum
Published in The Scotsman, 7 August 2017 | Words by Derick Mackinnon, Read on

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This years’ edition of Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival was a major success by all accounts. Founded by Joe Gibbs in 2004, the event is located within the historic Belladrum estate in Beauly, a picturesque village about ten miles from Inverness. Nearly 20,000 revellers attended the sold-out festival from 3 to 5 August.
In its 14-year history, Belladrum has sold out consecutively for the last eight – an impressive feat considering the festival market has reached saturation point (with a growing list of casualties).

The Pretenders on the main stage were a lot of fun. Unlike other acts, they spread out their big hits across the set, including Don’t Get Me Wrong and Brass In Pocket. Indie guitar band Feeder finished off their set with big single Just A Day.

Getting underway on Thursday with US superstars Sister Sledge and Swedish pop band First Aid Kit, the festival offered a good mix of established and emerging artists.

Starting proper on Friday, our first act is at the Bella Bar, a podium stage next to the main bar. Cameron Roxburgh is great, unusual phrasing and witty lyrics make for an entertaining set. Arriving at the Hothouse stage, we see the tail end of lively Edinburgh quartet Indigo Velvet, who are on excellent form, with a sizeable crowd gathered. Over the course of the day we see a number of acts on the XpoNorth Seedlings stage, a key platform for emerging artists. A particular highlight is Lilura with a promising electro-pop set with live drums. BooHooHoo, 80s-influenced funk and disco are brilliant. 

Scottish grunge-rock duo Honeyblood are a main stage highlight with stand-out singles like Killer Bangs, lots of charisma and engaging banter. Later we catch a glimpse of bhangra / fusion act Tigerstyle which is really interesting; unfortunately the crowd is a little sparse due to the poor weather. Heavy rock band Vukovi deliver an outstanding show at the Hothouse. Lead singer Janice Shilstone oozes stage presence and commands the capacity crowd. Glasgow quartet Twin Atlantic are on of our overall highlights of the day also on the Hothouse stage. The weather has let up and it’s just as well with at least 3 times the capacity crowd inside the tent, spilling outside onto the grass. They deliver their signature heavy rock, blistering set.

Saturday is nice and sunny and a welcome break from Fridays downpours. 
A highlight is Tamzene on the Grassroots stage. The 19-year-old singer-songwriter delivers a flawless performance. Now performing as a duo, multi-part harmonies embellish her soulful vocals and polished pop gems. It’s easy to see why Belladrum Festivals’ newly formed record label – Belladrum Records released her debut single. Over on the XpoNorth stage, Edinburgh band Vistas play a catchy, indie guitar set. Glaswegian trio Bossy Love get people moving with their pop-funk branded dance on the Hothouse stage. Powerful lead vocals, live drums, synths, bleeps and beats. Rapping / emcee skills of front woman Amandah Wilkinson are impressive and it’s a funky, super slick and cool set. A distinctive, gravelly, blues-inflected voice accompanies a top performance from Emme Woods and band on XpoNorth stage.

Tongue-in-cheek social commentary, delivered via a lighthearted, fun and highly entertaining live show (with crowd-surfing on an inflatable dinghy) it’s Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 on the main stage. The band are the perfect festival booking and there is plenty of sunshine to accompany their lively show. We venture into a small busker tent to relax for a moment and discover 15-year-old Rosie Sullivan from the Isle of Lewis. Performing through youth music project Music Plus, she’s a real find, mixing covers with original material. JR Green on the Grassroots stage, brothers Jacob and Rory, provide another highlight, now performing as a five-piece band. Their sound is genuinely original, mixing traditional folk with contemporary influences and they’re among my favourite young artists in the country, distinctive vocals and sharp, teenage angst-laden lyrics. 

Later we see excellent Edinburgh quartet SKJØR on the XpoNorth stage. The smaller stages are starting to compete with the headline bands, but it’s an excellent performance. Mercury Music Prize and Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Young Fathers play to a capacity tent on the Hothouse stage. The pop-tinged, hip hop trio are truly mesmerising.  KT Tunstall is full of beans and plays an energetic set on the main stage. 

Overall, we conclude the key to Belladrum’s success, is a combination of a unique and beautiful location, an eclectic line up with family orientated activities including theatre, wrestling, salsa and ceilidh dance classes and the Danny MacAskill Drop and Roll juggernaut. 
It’s clear Belladrum supports local artists and the business community too, with possibly the finest food and drink offering of any festival, from the Black Isle’s organic beverages to Loch Fyne oysters, salmon and even ostrich and venison burgers.
A hit-laden set from the mighty Franz Ferdinand brings Belladrum Festival to a triumphant close.

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* Derick co-writes a weekly new music column in Scotland On Sunday. For consideration as our Artist of the Week please click HERE scroll to the bottom and review checklist of what we NEED in order to feature artists. Then email: Derick Mackinnon with all the info

The Scotsman, Under The Radar, September 2013

Copyright The Scotsman Newspaper, read direct on click HERE or photo below

Published Tuesday 3rd September 2013

LAW, The Scotsman Track of the Month, September 2013

ONE of the best gigs we have attended in months was an intense performance by solo artist Lauren Hold, aka LAW, at Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s.

Boasting a distinctive vocal style set to beats composed with Young Fathers and producer Tim London (who scored a hit with Hippychick for the band Soho in 1990), her music is a fresh and exciting addition to Scotland’s music scene. The song Hustle gives a good taste of what is to come.

More info visit

One of the biggest talking points in the Scottish music scene is the news that the legendary Fence Collective is to split. Founder Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) plans to relaunch in January, while his former partner Johnny “Pictish Trail” Lynch plans to release many of the acts formerly on the label via his new venture, Lost Map Records A free sampler featuring tracks by eagleowl, Kid Canaveral, Monoganon, Rozi Plain, Seamus Fogarty, Randolph’s Leap and The Pictish Trail is available to anyone who signs up to the mailing list.

Hip-hop supremos Hector Bizerk are to mark the release of their new album with two launch parties, in Stereo, Glasgow on 21 September and at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh the following night. Billed as “Hectember Weekender”, the band are offering a limited number of seats on their Hector Bus from Glasgow for Edinburgh. The band had the plugs pulled on their last gig in the capital (at the BBC’s Fringe tent), when security appeared to take exception to enthusiastic fans going in for some “taps aff” action.

Hector Bizerk will also be appearing at Jocktoberfest, hosted by the Black Isle Brewery near Inverness this coming weekend. This year’s bill is shaping up to be the best yet – it includes Casual Sex, Be Like Pablo, Woodenbox, Dylan Tierney and the fantastic Cairn String Quartet.

On the other side of the firth, Moray Culture Day takes place in the Findhorn Bay area on 21 September. The free event will feature more than 80 artists with music, theatre, exhibitions, seminars and film all represented. The organisers of the goNORTH Festival have programmed a series of industry panel sessions, a screening programme and live music showcases in the evening. Artists performing include Fatherson, Be Like Pablo, The Oxides and Dave Martin & Graeme Rogers (DJ set) at Mosset Tavern from 9pm. Other pubs in the area will host Highland singer songwriters Jemma Tweedie, Dylan Tierney, Blair McLeod and Irenie Rose.

Also taking place in the Highlands over the same weekend, is Ullapool’s Loopallu Festival This year’s line-up features emerging Scottish acts Fake Major, Blood Relatives and former track of the month provider Prides, as well as headliners Newton Faulkner and The Enemy. Also appearing is Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire whose eponymous album was released on the Middle Of Nowhere Recordings ( co-owned by Loopallu promoter, Robert Hicks.

Over in Stornoway, goNORTH organisers present a free Music In Broadcast seminar at the Jäger Rooms on Wednesday. Speakers include Duncan McCrone from MCPS, representatives from MG Alba and goNORTH Director Amanda Millen.

Quirky Edinburgh indie-pop outfit The Spook School are to release their debut album with Fortuna Pop! The group have also scheduled a UK tour with dates in Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London in September and October.

•  Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon run regular music business event Born to Be Wide, which takes place at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus from 7:30pm on 3 October with a seminar entitled Promoting Gigs. Speakers include Regular Music’s John Stout, who is also a booking agent, and Synergy Concerts’ Grainne Braithwaite. Additional participants TBA. for more details