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.

First impressions are that it’s boat city (click the pictures for larger versions).

Driving further we come to the Galley of Lorne pub with the stage in its gardens.


Inside, preparations are under way.

Looking up, there are flying papier-mache women with big buttocks.

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 my Saturday walk I came across another local character:

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.

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