The Weekend Begins Now!

Islay Sessions 2013 kicks off on Friday night with a family ceilidh at Laphroaig.  We’re all set for another fantastic weekend.  Full details on the poster:

Islay Sessions 2013 Poster Image

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Announcing the Islay Sessions 2013

It’s time to start looking forward to this year’s spectacular Islay Sessions. Friday 8th, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th will be a weekend full of outstanding music from across Scotland (and Ireland). Here is a sneak peak at some of the line up.

Ross Couper & Tom Oakes

Ross Couper and Tom Oakes

Ross Couper and Tom Oakes

Fiddle and guitar duo, Ross and Tom have recently performed to great acclaim across Europe with sell-out tours of Norway and Denmark.  They’ve taken to the stage at world famous festivals such as Shetland Folk Festival and Tønder Festival in Denmark where they played to a 5000 strong outdoor crowd.

In 2011 they were nominated for ‘Best up and Coming Act’ in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards and were awarded a coveted 5 Star review for their performance at the Edinburgh Fringe. Ross is also the current fiddle player with Peatbog Fairies and Tom is the principle traditional flute and DADGAD guitar tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – not a lot to boast about.

Jarlath Henderson Band

Jarlath Henderson Band

Jarlath Henderson Band

When only 19, Jarlath had already been a three time All-Ireland Champion Uilleann Piper and in December 2003 he became the first Irish musician to win the prestigious BBC Young Folk Musician Of The Year. Jarlath, now a familiar face in Scotland playing both Scottish and Irish music, often joining forces with the Scottish piping and whistle force that is Ross Ainslie, Jarlath will be entertaining Islay Sessions audience with his own band.

Hannah Beaton & Innes Watson
The beautiful voice of Hannah Beaton will be melting away those icing November nights with her range of gaelic songs accompanied on guitar by a familiar face Innes Watson. Innes, previous MG Alba Scots Trad Music Instrumentalist of the Year winner and a member of what may seem like almost every Traditional band in Scotland – that has to be a sign.

More details to follow soon!

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Another Fantastic Concert

The Saturday night concert was fantastic with stunning performances from all of the musicians and a great ceilidh afterwards.  More photos to follow but a quick one of Rura to kick things off.

Rura at the 2012 Islay Sessions Concert

Rura at the 2012 Islay Sessions Concert

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Workshop Registration

The Islay Sessions workshops will take place at Islay High School from 10am to 2pm this Saturday 17th November.

This is a great chance to play, sing, dance and learn from some of the fantastic musicians that are on Islay this weekend. Options include fiddle, whistle, accordion, guitar, Gaelic song and step-dance.

If you are interested please register by email to

Soup and sandwiches will be available for lunch.

The workshops cost £10 for adults and £3 for children.

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Two Weeks to Go…

2012 Islay Sessions Poster A4

2012 Islay Sessions Poster

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Hamish Napier and Marc Duff

Marc Duff

Marc Duff

Just announced for The Islay Sessions 2012

Hamish and Marc first met 8 years ago in Glasgow, when Hamish visited Marc’s flat for a  whistle lesson! Two self-confessed nerds of Scottish whistle playing, Hamish and Marc put on a show of mighty Scottish traditional tunes as well as original compositions hot off the press! Each whistler take turns to accompany one another on either piano or bouzouki, and there is always scope for the unique chance of hearing a rare thing indeed: a brace of Scottish whistles! hearing a rare thing indeed: a brace of Scottish whistles!


Originally from Strathspey in the Scottish Highlands, Hamish Napier plays piano, flute, whistle and sings. He was a finalist in the ‘Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year Award’ and was nominated for ‘Best Up and Coming Artist’ at the Scots Trad Awards. For seven years he played with award-winning folk quartet Back of the Moon, touring extensively throughout Europe, Canada, and the USA. Hamish has recorded on over a dozen Scottish traditional albums, with leading Scottish musicians such as Donald Shaw, Martyn Bennett and Eddi Reader. He has collaborated with many of Scotland’s finest folk musicians, performing at major UK folk festivals, and appearing on national TV and radio. As a graduate in Applied Music from the University of Strathclyde, Hamish earned a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music to study jazz piano. He currently lectures in piano, composition, ensemble playing and music theory on the BA Scottish Music course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The Hamish Napier Quartet – Hamish’s folk/jazz cross-over group – have performed at Celtic Connections, and Hamish also plays flutes and sings in Scottish folk/funk fusion group Man’s Ruin.


Born in Ontario, Canada and raised in Argyll, Scotland, Marc was a founder member of the Scottish band Capercaillie with whom he recorded 7 albums which have sold over a million copies and included the first Gaelic, Top 40 single. His four year performance degree at the Guildhall School of Music in London added to Marc’s eclectic taste in music. Since leaving Capercaillie in 1995 to pursue his own career, he has worked with many prominent artists. Recently he has toured in Scotland with Dr Fred Freeman, presenting a series of workshops in connection with Linn Records ”The Complete Songs Of Robert Burns” series. In addition to live performances, Marc is currently researching and teaching. Marc was a nominee for BBC Alba’s Trad Music Awards, ‘Traditional Musician Of The Year’, in 2008.

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Islay Sessions 2012 – A November to Remember

After last year’s memorable success with the inaugural Islay Sessions traditional music event, it’s back for 2012 with a line up and a programme to sing for and dance to.

Running over three days, from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th November, the event will feature traditional music sessions in hotels across Islay, a workshop on the Saturday morning and a grand concert ceilidh in Bruichladdich Hall on the Saturday night.

The musicians playing in the sessions include:


Rura –  This is a band [above] that manages to include no less than three Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalists as well as an All Ireland Bodhran Champion.  Their collective talent was recognised in the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards where they won Best Up and Coming Artist in 2011.  Since then, their debut album ‘Break it up’ has created a buzz throughout the traditional music scene with its tight instrumentals and stunning vocals.

Maeve MacKinnon – After the success of her first album and award of Best Up and Coming Artist in 2007, Maeve [below right] has gone from strength to strength.  Her repertoire spans Gaelic and English-language material; both traditional and contemporary.  She’s won acclaim for the eloquent emotional connection she forges with every song and for her music’s dynamic interplay of boldness and sensitivity.  Her eagerly-awaited follow-up, Once Upon an Olive Branch, marks her first public foray into songwriting.

findlay napier and gillian frame Maeve Mackinnon

Findlay Napier and Gillian Frame – These two [above left] are a very exciting addition to the line-up.  Findlay Napier is heavily influenced by the music of Elvis Costello and Loudon Wainwright III.  He delivers upbeat musical vignettes on a host of subjects that range from love sick librarians and dumb struck magicians to peeping toms and guilty johns all dispatched in his native accent.  Nominated as Songwriter of the year in the 2010 MG Alba Music Awards, he is a writer and performer of increasingly impressive stature.

Gillian Frame is a fiddle player and singer from the Isle of Arran with a passion for performing and teaching.  She was the inaugural winner of the Young Scottish Traditional Musician Award and a founding member of the band Back of the Moon with whom she toured for seven years, seeing them win various accolades including Best Up and Coming Act followed by Best Folk Band at the Scots Trad Music Awards.  As a performer Gillian has worked with acts such as The Unusual Suspects, Deaf Shepherd and Breabach.

maverick angels

The Maverick Angels  – The band [above] is returning again this year  having enjoyed last year’s Islay Sessions so much.  This year it will be performing at the grand concert ceilidh and promises a distinctive style of modern ceilidh music which is sure to get everyone up on the dance floor. They will be have well known faces from around Islay with them on the programme.

  • Friday 16th November – PM Sessions in Bars/Hotels across Islay
  • Saturday 17th November – AM Workshops (fiddle, whistle, accordion, guitar)
  • Saturday 17th November – PM Grand Concert followed by Ceilidh at Bruichladdich Hall
  • Sunday 18th November – Lunchtime Sessions in Bars/Hotels across Islay
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