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  • Writer's pictureLiza Mulholland

Home is where the Tartan Heart is.

As I write this, I am sitting out in my back garden enjoying Belladrum Festival and some of its many fabulous delights. Sadly, due to Covid-19, it’s not the real thing this year but a virtual version renamed Tartan Home Festival and it’s just the slice of summer fun and music that’s needed to get August going!

Having played at Belladrum many times with our band Dorec-a-belle and Davy Cowan’s Stormchasers, missing only one for my sister-in-law’s wedding on Bella weekend, the thought of summer without our much-loved local festival was a tough prospect.

Team Bella have pulled out all the stops though and delivered the next best thing online, with tons of great music, kids’ fun sessions, storytelling, crafts, TikTok challenges and, yikes, I’ve even done a yoga session! Learning how to make one of Tomatin Whisky Bothy’s oh-so-tasty cocktails will be just the thing to chill with later.

With some sessions filmed and hosted out at Belladrum, it’s lovely to see how nature has reclaimed the festival ground, with bees and butterflies making the most of the long flowing grasses and flower meadows. This Kiltarlity estate truly is beautiful.

Belladrum ‘at home’ is especially welcome after some other staples keeping us all going during lockdown have now drawn to a close. Along with fitness guru Joe Wicks’ daily workout, local fiddle favourite Duncan Chisolm’s morning #COVIDCeilidh has cheered a slow day for many. After posting daily tunes for over four months, Duncan deserves his well-earned break!

Some musicians have also kept us laughing in lockdown, developing multiple comic personas and hilarious comedy routines. Folk music is of course known for its craic, with many artistes entertaining with banter as much as their music, but two friends who are well-known to audiences here in the Highlands have been particularly brilliant.

Allan Henderson - of Fort William’s famous musical Henderson clan - is hilarious as his online landed gentry alter ego, and accordion virtuoso Sandy Brechin’s ‘Sandy on Sunday’ musical round-the world escapades on Facebook, co-hosted by his ever-patient little dog Toki, are superbly funny. If live music doesn’t resume any time soon, these guys have bags of talent for comedy sketch writing!

Like many, I was hoping that Eden Court Theatre’s outdoor music programme Under Canvas, partnered with Fèis Rois, would be getting underway again in August but sadly it seems that will not now be happening. A fairly recent addition to Inverness’s seasonal music scene, Under Canvas quickly established itself as a popular outdoor venue. Enjoying excellent traditional music, quality food and drink, while relaxing on the green, grassy surrounds of the river Ness, has become a summer favourite for locals and visitors.

It is hoped that perhaps later in the year Under Canvas will get unwrapped but in the meantime treat yourselves to some summer music magic by setting up your own tent (virtual or real) and catching up with Belladrum’s Home Festival on BBC Alba, YouTube and social media platforms.

(First published by Scottish Provincial Press 7th August 2020)

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