New Bute music festival is unveiled

BUTE’S growing reputation as a venue for top quality live music has received a boost this week with the announcement that the first Bute International Guitar Festival will take place later this year.

Well-known and much-loved folk singer and songwriter Dick Gaughan is the biggest name on the bill so far for the inaugural BIGF – to be known, thanks to its initials, as ‘The Big F’ – which will take place on September 16, 17 and 18.

Other performers to have confirmed their appearance so far include Martin Stephenson, Lee Patterson, Jon Strong and the double-act of David Olney and Sergio Webb – while the organisers have also approached several more big names, among them the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, singer-songwriter Rab Noakes and former Squeeze bandmates Glenn Tilbrook and Nick Harper.

Many of those confirmed or approached so far have previously performed on the island at the weekly Original Sunday Session.

The festival is being organised by Transclyde Music, a Bute-based group with long experience of organising musical events on Bute and elsewhere.

Transclyde Music chairman Richard Snape told us: “The festival has largely grown out of the success of the Original Sunday Session, which has brought some great music and some superb musicians to the island over the last couple of years.

“We think we see an excellent opportunity to bring that music to a wider audience.”

The festival will be held at various venues around the whole of Bute, with a broad range of acts aimed at appealing to a wide cross-section of visitors and locals.

Also to be included in the weekend-long programme are a number of free public performances, tuition and instrumental workshops, an open mic competition and a mini exhibition by national musical instrument distributors and manufacturers.

Transclyde Music comprises Richard as chairman, his partner Alison Ramsay, David Macqueen, Paul and Susan Templeman and Robert Murray, though Richard told us the group hopes to add new members to its team in the next few weeks.

The festival has received £13,000 in financial support from several organisations, chief among them the Scotland’s Islands initiative, a year-long project launched this month to showcase the culture, environment and produce of the island communities in the Clyde, Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland, with funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund and Event Scotland.

The organisers are also in negotiations with an as-yet-unnamed private company in the hope of attracting corporate sponsorship for the event.

Artists confirmed so far, in addition to those mentioned above, are Coustie, the Hokum Hotshots, Johnny Dickinson, Hill Billies from Outer Space, Canadian flamenco duo Richard and Marta, and the Alan Murphy Band, who last visited Bute earlier this month and who will be joined at the festival by Henry McCullough.