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The Randan Festival

It is safe to say that The Randan Festival was a success; we are absolutely delighted! Our first foray into festival organising, with our friends Emma and Jane Foster, was a new and exciting challenge for us all; we feel that it went as well as it could and the feedback we have received has been, on the whole, extremely positive. The consensus is . . . we'll definitely be doing it again! Why not join the festival Facebook group to stay informed?

Before we get to that though, lets clue you up on what happened over the sunniest of weekends in the most ideal of Scottish locations. We were loaded up with a beer tent and food throughout the course of the day; the local gala committee ran their purpose built and very bespoke bar, the Carnegie Hall Cafe provided their usual menu for the day session then treated festival-goers to their amazing freshly baked pizzas in the evening and The Highland Larder were serving the best of local produce in the form of delicious burgers. The day kicked off with the talented Portmasamba, the local samba band, who put on a fun-filled show outside the hall in the glorious sunshine; trumpets and saxophones included; this was about the time our beer tent opened too so everybody was definitely in high spirits! We then moved over to the first of our hall stages where The Homebirds entertained; we happen to be one half of that band with our dear friends, Rebecca Connelly and Scott Burrell (more on them later). We put together a family-friendly set of covers and originals which culminated in a massive audience rendition of The Hokey Cokey; early afternoon fun at its best. We then moved to our next stage where The Port Ceilidh Band played a set of traditional bangers to get us all on the floor for some much-needed dancing; the audience were shy at first, however, it didn't take long for everybody to get stuck into Scotland's most prominent health and safety issue . . . Strip the Willow. Thankfully, nobody was injured (the bar had not long opened mind you). Next up, on the main stage was local rock legends Oldplay who played an absolute blinder of a set; the hall was full and the band were enjoying every minute . . . guitars were definitely swung around and there was many a stage jump, mostly on the part of Ross Duff. Once the audience were taken to their afternoon crescendo, the phenomenal David Macfarlane (more on him later also) led everybody out of the hall and into the sunshine with a set of jigs and reels; we had Uke-E-Eilildh lined up to greet them with an acoustic set in the beer tent . . . this was such a fitting set for the day as who doesn't love ukulele and harmony in the sunshine?! Whilst the hall was being turned around for the evening performances, a music session took place out the back of the beer tent in one of the biggest sun traps of the day. As always, session-goers Christine Kyle and Sandy McInnes were there to start everybody off with a song or two and the session then grew in numbers; it was wonderful to hear people singing their favourite tunes when ordering a beer! They even carried on an extra wee half hour when the indoor stage was delayed during sound check. Click the images below to see the photos in full.

It was soon time for the evening session, which was kicked off, on the floor stage, by Rebecca Connelly who delivered a stunning solo set of original and cover songs on both guitar and piano; she was briefly joined by David Macfarlane and the combination of fiddle, keys and Rebecca's distinctive smooth vocals literally brought people to tears. A stellar start indeed as listeners sat or lay against the hay bales to listen to Rebecca's chilled out set. Next up were yours truly and we decided to mark the occasion by establishing a feature set for future years. This year, we performed a duo set of covers inspired by women in country; it was great to get our teeth into some new tunes and we look forward to this mini-challenge going forward . . . what will next year's theme be?! It wasn't long before Mad Ferret took to the stage to perform their first set of contemporary folk and traditional music; they opted for a slightly more chilled opening set, however, the pace definitely began to change from this point on. Rebecca came back to the stage joined by her partner in life and music Scott Burrell on drums and the wonderful David Macfarlane on bass and fiddle; they pulled an absolute blinder of set, the best we have heard them, and they made sure to bring out Rebecca's most popular original tunes in slick style. For us, this was a tough act to follow, however, with David Macfarlane on fiddle (aye, the boy gets about) and Chris Small on bass, we performed our popular festival set with all of the energy we could throw at it; it's always an utter joy to perform with the lads and bring four-part harmony to the stage. Also, we managed to start the dancing! Finally, Mad Ferret made sure they played every folk and trad' banger they could, which pleased the audience no end. We had people hooring off hay bails, falling to the floor and stoating into walls, however, they were having a totally epic time; the dance floor was rammed. Throughout the course of the evening, the Carnegie Hall Cafe were firing out freshly baked pizzas to the hungry crowd; when we managed to find a moment to feed ourselves, we enjoyed ours whilst rather tiddly on the floor of the green room. Tremendous! The festivities, of course, continued well after the music stopped out in the beer tent area until we were all thrown out! Click the images below to see the photos in full.

Although the festival is currently a one day event, it was important to us to do something fun the next day to capitalise on all of those hangovers. The day began with a tremendous breakfast at the Tarbat Bistro & Bar who signed up to put on our Recovery Breakfast; the staff at this venue are excellent and took it all in their stride to dish out over forty breakfasts the next morning. We then took to the beach for the inaugural Wellie Toss charity event; for a small donation to support Maggie's, competitors could try their literal arm at flinging wellies; those who managed to get their welly into one of the targets won a prize and the furthest toss, in both child and adult categories, won one of our coveted trophies, handcrafted by our very own Emma Foster. It was actually really interesting to learn about everybody's throwing technique; that being said, we'd like to take a moment to congratulate our pal David Manderson on becoming this year's Big Tosser; wonder if he'll be returning next year to defend such a sought-after title? We have, of course, included a video of his big moment below.

After all of the tossing, those who were hanging on (to life) and not wanting to go home got together, once again, at the Tarbat Bistro & Bar for an afternoon music session; although the numbers had dwindled, we still managed to make plenty of noise. The Highland Larder, and their friends, were in very good form singing along with us after their long hard day of work serving food to the festival goers; they do love a sing-a-long! As well as us and the session-obsessed Christine and Sandy, other musicians from the festival's line-up came along; we had members of Portmasamba, The Port Ceilidh Band, Oldplay and Rebecca Connelly treating the audience and staff to an array of session-worthy tunes to round off the weekend. Click the images below to see the photos in full.

All in all, we are very proud of ourselves for managing to pull something like this off in such a beautiful location; we are grateful to our friends Emma and Jane, (who we can see are very highly thought of by their community), for jumping on board this rollercoaster with us and are thankful to everybody who played a part in making it such a success. We all have high hopes for our festival going forward and would love to see you in the future for a dance and a song by the beautiful shores of Portmahomack. Are you going on the randan next year?

THANK YOUS The Tarbat Community Hall Group for funding the festival, providing our venue and for your huge leap of faith and support along the way; special thanks to Iain Morrison for believing in us. The Gala Committee for putting up the marquee and for providing and running the bar; special thanks to Alistair MacLean and John Cately for keeping everything going throughout the day. The local musicians, Portmasamba, The Port Ceilidh Band, Oldplay and Uku-E-Eilidh and Eileen Solan; your enthusiasm is unmatched and we are truly grateful for everything you brought to the festival. The volunteer festival staff for keeping the toilets in order, delivering and arranging the straw bales, stewarding, offering land for camping, tending to the stalls and the post-festival clear up. The vendors for keep everybody well fed and watered over the course of the weekend; special thanks go to Carnegie Cafe, The High Land Larder, Tarbat Bistro & Bar and the Portmahomack Post Office & Stores. To the local church for providing us a wonderful space for our green room; huge thanks go to Stuart Nicol. Those whose accommodation for the artists and generally hospitality was hugely appreciated; special thanks go to Carol Sleith, Bruce and Charlotte Edwards and Dorothy and Malcolm Ferguson. The headliners, Rebecca Connelly and Mad Ferret and session musicians Chris Small, David Macfarlane and Scott Burrell; we are eternally grateful to you for mucking in and helping us to get this festival off the ground. To our co-directors, Emma and Jane Foster; the passion you show for your local community is absolutely phenomenal and it was so much fun harnessing that to work on something like this with you!


We really hope you enjoyed reading this blog; if you did, do feel free to share it with other music-loving people you know. We'd also love to hear what you think about this lovely instrument at some point. Thank you very much for your continued love, patience and support. Take care for now and we'll hopefully see you soon!

Lynzy & Vivienne The Coaltown Daisies

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