Songwriting festival in move to the island aims to strike a chord

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An annual songwriting festival is set to move to Bute from Portpatrick next month, bringing two days of music to Rothesay.

Butesong songwriters’ weekend, formerly known as Port Fest, will take place on February 2 and 3 at the Glenburn Hotel, Rothesay. The previous incarnation of the festival ran for five years in Portpartick, and now organiser JJ Gilmour hopes the festival can thrive following its move to Bute.

Rab Noakes

Rab Noakes

He said: “Over all the years that we did it in Portpartick I really struggled to find local people to be interested in it.

“In Bute it’s the polar opposite. Everybody wants to be involved. The Glen Bar, Cal Mac and a whole host of people have been in touch. Volunteers have come forward as well, the response has been amazing.

“The hotel will give us more room to grow it as well, which I didn’t have in Portpatrick. I think the Glenburn is the perfect venue for the festival. It holds about 250 people. I don’t know if we will quite reach capacity this first year, I would be happy to get 150 people each night. The hotel manager has been a big help.

“People have to suck it and see the first year. You get a selective audience for things like this. There is a real hotch both of people.

Stevie Young

Stevie Young

“There is a community of people on Bute that have been bringing acts to the island and they have been great with me in helping with this festival.

“They actually brought me over to play last year which gave me the chance to come to Bute for the first time.

“I never got a chance to look around properly so this time I will be staying for a few days to make the most of it.”

JJ explained more about the premise of the festival and this year’s line-up.

Skin from Hipsway

Skin from Hipsway

He said: “The whole reason for it is it’s all about songwriters. Obviously the performance is important but this is more about the songs and what the songwriters do.

“That’s what I am and what I have always done.

“So it’s a collection of songwriters for an audience to sit down and listen to.

“This year we have got established acts like Hipsway and Rab Noakes, but we have also got Sarah Davidson, who is 19, and a girl from Bute – Beth Swan, who is only 16.

Sarah Davidson

Sarah Davidson

“Ceasar is Jo Donnelly and I, we were both previously with The Silencers. We sold a million records, played Wembley with U2 and played with David Bowie and Rage Against the Machine. So people of a certain age will know of us and should be interested to see our new band.

“But as well as oldies like us we also have talented youngsters like Eugene Twist who is dynamite, like a young Elvis Costello. We are big on bringing young songwriters on. It’s important to the festival.”

JJ is confident of a bright future for Butesong.

He said: “My hope is because it’s not as far away as Portpartick we can encourage people from Glassgow and Ayrshire that didn’t fancy the slog of going there.

“I’m hoping with Bute being so close, half an hour on the train and half an hour on the boat from Glasgow, people will see it as more accessible.

“I hope to build it and make the capacity every year, and then who knows. The grounds of the Glenburn might be big enough to have it in a tent.

Eugene Twist

Eugene Twist

“That’s the big picture. Continue to grow.”

For more information and to buy tickets for the festival go to www.jjgilmour.co.uk/. Tickets cost £35 for the weekend, or £20 for a Friday or Saturday night only ticket.

Elles Springs.

Elles Springs.

Caezar

Caezar