Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Gig review: Isle of Eigg Anniversary Ceilidh

The Scotsman
Published Date: 16 June 2009
-By Sue Wilson
IN A thoughtful speech on Saturday at the opening of Eigg's new Croft House Museum, MSP Rob Gibson reflected on the importance of continuity to communities such as this. Even while the island's 21st century crofters invest in solar panels and polytunnels, many of life's fundamentals here – as represented by the museum's evocative artefacts, testament to one family's history over the last century – remain unchanged.

In many ways, the same applies to the collective merrymaking that holds sway over Eigg the weekend before midsummer, at the islanders' annual celebration of having bought their homeland in 1997. This year's headlining band, The Chair, came all the way from Orkney to raise the roof of the community hall, mixing up Balkan, blues, funk and reggae influences with their frontline fiddle and accordion tunes. And they were followed by several hours of DJ Dolphin Boy's majestically maverick beats. Highlanders and islanders have been perfecting the art of righteous fun for centuries, and the profound, even primal conviviality underpinning Eigg's ceilidh felt truly, transcendently timeless. Come late Sunday afternoon, as the sun continued to beam down in defiance of all forecasts, and a lone bagpiper struck up outside the café, his choice of Gordon Duncan's gorgeously poignant The Sleeping Tune seemed only too appropriate.

The rest of Saturday's main gig had featured redoubtable regulars the JaMaTha Ceilidh Band, comprising the likes of mandolin ace Dagger Gordon, Andy Thorburn on piano and local percussion legend Eddie "Spoons" Scott, who kicked off a marathon night's dancing.

Next up was fellow Eigg resident Donna MacCulloch, leading a rock-style band on bagpipes, in a dynamic set of self-penned tunes. Once again, the material and instrumentation might have been novel, but the shared delight they engendered felt at least as ancient as it did modern.

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