On Friday I drove a hired Fiat Punto across Scotland to Ardfern for the Elemental Arts Festival. The B-road to Ardfern is indicated from the Inverary-Oban road by a giant wooden pointing finger.
Driving further we come to the Galley of Lorne pub with the stage in its gardens.
I met Robin and some of the other organisers, was shown to my comfortable room in a nearby house, and went off to explore. At the tip of the peninsula, the distances are entrancing and the insects hungry.
I hope someone will send me some of the photos of the performers because I haven’t got any. The mix was extreme – a school rock band with diffident grunge vocalist and glam guitarist (the Anyways), a country singer who also did Bowie covers (in a cowboy hat) and Cajun fiddle, who had recorded with the Fall (step forward Kenny Brady), a sonic terrorist who played one string of an electric violin on the floor, manipulating and distorting it with racks of effects and a laptop (Neil McInee), a guitar-and-tea-chest-bass duo (The Shambles Band), your humble correspondent and the two headline acts – William Douglas and the Wheel (Friday) and Altres (Saturday). Both were superb, William with a cracking bassist and drummer, coming on like a three-piece soul revue, and Altres playing their atmospheric instrumentals (the sweeping majesty of Kraftwerk at their best, with live guitar and percussion). For my part I pulled out probably the best solo performance I’ve ever done, mostly uptempo stuff with people dancing to it – you don’t get that at Out of the Bedroom! The locals were very friendly, generous and hospitable and the post-gig jam, with most of the performers and audience, went on till 8 the next morning (I retired at 4, driven down the hill in reverse with William Douglas, band and equipment in a Fiat Panda, singing Bohemian Rhapsody for courage. You had to be there. ) On Saturday the rain was coming down in sheets and the dome was leaking so a jam with Altres had to be postponed and WaveForms cancelled, although I did get to join them on guitar for a number at the end of their set.
On Sunday, I drove home with the following CDs for company: Zum ( a Guitar Craft trio) Angel Suite, the Handsome Family (Last Days of Wonder), Sinead O’Connor Sean-nos Nua and ex-Houdini Box colleague Sam Barber’s Paths Into Light , which I strongly recommend to anyone, especially anyone who likes melodic, arranged songs a la Divine Comedy.
My thanks to Robin and Elemental Arts for inviting me and to Electra for passing my name on.