The Kintyre Songwriters Festival allows local talent to showcase their original music to a supportive audience and the organisers have pulled out all the stops to make the 10th anniversary memorable by expanding to a new weekend with a brand new larger venue in Campbeltown Town Hall, a late license and more musical acts than ever before.
Friday night is rock night at Whisky Macs and top emerging Glasgow rock band The Van Ts will be hitting Campbeltown fresh from their American tour and an appearance at the SXSW festival in Texas. Support comes from Gullion, The Shift, Sleeping With The Enemy and many more.
Saturday in the town hall will see a performance from Pronto Mama, currently the hottest new indie band in Glasgow following their sell out Celtic Connections show at the Oran Mor and their announcement as headliners of the King Tuts stage at the BBC 6 Music Festival. They will be playing tracks from their forthcoming debut album "Any Joy" which will be released on the iconic Electric Honey record label.
They are joined by the legendary Funk Warrior Jesse Rae, who has worked with Parliament/Funkadelic, wrote several of the top disco tunes of the 70s and is sure to get the crowd moving. Singer-songwriter Chrissy Barnacle brings stunning guitar skills and quirky storytelling alongside well-known locals Thom MacEwan, David Bisset and Gareth Croll, while newcomers include Hope Strang, Swanfactory and Chris Annetts.
Sunday will be a slightly more laid back affair with Mull Historical Society flying in from London for a special acoustic performance. Donald MacNeill from Colonsay provides island folk vibes and Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Emme Woods brings a gothic Americana that has seen her compared to Lana Del Rey. Local institution The Gilchristians will perform songs by festival founder Kenneth Gilchrist alongside established local acts like David Fee and The Strunts, Violent Echo and The Twisted Melons and fresh talent like Thomas Jordan and Jenni Martin. Sunday night will also see the long-awaited return of festival favourites A New Hope.
Festival organiser Pete Cockburn said "It's great to see top talent from around the country coming to Campbeltown but allowing the audience to see brand new local talent emerging is what the festival is all about. With 6 hours of music per night and open stages in the afternoon the festival has something for everyone".
Almost a decade has past since the community in Campbeltown suffered the loss of one of the finest songwriters to come from the toon, Kenny Gilchrist. It was Kenny’s ambition, along with musician Ross Macinnes, to set up a music festival to showcase local talent but as the plans were taking shape he was tragically killed in a car crash. Instead a group of local musicians took up the baton and launched the first ever Kintyre Songwriters Festival in 2008.
Since then the festival has gone from strength to strength attracting names such as Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, Be Charlotte and Angus Munro in recent years. The weekend is split into three nights with the Friday held in the local pub, Whisky Macs, with free entry. This year saw impressive sets from natives The Twisted Melons, Gullion, Violent Echo, The Shift and The Bob Ross Appreciation Society, amongst others, with the locals getting into the swing of things early on in the weekend.
The Saturday and Sunday day slots are filled with two open mic sessions, again hosted in Whisky Macs, and are usually well attended despite some frankly abhorrent hangovers with this year being no exception.
As for the evening sets, these are held in the White Hart Hotel and this is where the festival really comes into its own. The pub band mindset is put to one side and the performers are given the chance to showcase their work with sets of about three songs each under concert conditions. The combination of a seated venue and an overwhelming respect for the artists makes the KSF one of Scotland’s best grassroots festivals to highlight both new and established talent.
Local acts such as Matthew McAllister, Sleeping With The Enemy and Adam Fortune impressed the crowd on Saturday night before headliners Marc Rooney (Pronto Mama), Mayor Stubbs and Martha Ffion rounded things off nicely. And, as is tradition, The Gilchristians, who formed to carry forward the music of founder Kenny Gilchrist, played us out with some of Kenny’s finest tunes.
Sunday night, known locally as 'survivor’s night', was again split between local performers and some bigger names such as Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Finn LeMarinel and Shanine Gallagher.
Well, another year and another KSF. Let’s hope that year ten will prove to be just as much of a success.