Dòchas Saturday 15th July Main Marquee
And so we come to the final night of Heb Celt Fest 2006. What better way to open than with Dòchas in the main marquee tent? This is a musically gifted all girl band from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, strongly influenced by the musical traditions of their homeland.
Their beautiful Celtic music of pipes, clarsach, fiddles and whistles raised the audience to rowdy dancing and stunned them into silence with Julie Fowlis' angelic vocals.
But don't let it be said that these guys aren't fresh and exciting. Many of their songs had contemporary elements. Julie's impossibly fast Gaelic rap and a daring bodhran based piece were ample evidence of this. This vibrant sextet had no trouble commanding the crowd in the massive blue tent.
Instrumental lilts led to thoughtful pride in beautiful Scotland, our wealth of music and to reminiscences of previous festival days and nights. A perfect introduction to the final evening of this unique festival.
Teine - Saturday 15th July
What better way to end a Hebridean Celtic music festival than having four talented local girls singing some of Scotland's best loved Gaelic songs.
Still in their teens Teine have been festival regulars for the last three years. Always popular in the Hebrides they are beginning to make their mark elsewhere having played at Celtic Fusion and Celtic Connections.
The auditorium resonated with a pure, soaring sound as we were treated to love songs, jigs and walking tunes. Clearly lassies who believe in having more than one string to their bow - no pun intended - they each played a variety of instruments; whistle, fiddle, clarsach, keyboards and drums, all with enviable ease.
Having begun my festival experience attempting to sing in Gaelic at the Julie Fowlis concert I ended the event doing so yet again. The band split the audience in half for the chorus of one number and it was a rousing effort by all concerned. Though our voices weren't nearly as sweet as the girls we enjoyed every mildly embarrassing moment.
'Caledonia' received the greatest cheer of the evening. All around me I could hear folk singing along with enthusiasm, not only for the song but for a band whose future looks very bright indeed.
Teine finished off their set to a mighty cheer, and mightily deserved it was too.
Afro Celt Sound System
Saturday 15th July, Main Marquee
It was dark, it was loud, it had tribal beats. The Afro Celt Sound System provided a suitably massive end to an epic festival.
The slick world-music super group rocked the heaving crowd with their innovative mix of driving African rhythms and haunting Celtic melodies. Fiddles and pipes sat easily with more unfamiliar instruments, such as African tom-tom drums.
This cultural fusion closed the festival in the typically thoughtful manner we have come to appreciate from the Heb Celt organisers.
Unlike many other festivals, Heb Celt is wholly inclusive. Over the four days we saw people of all ages and nationalities taking something from the event. Children delighted in learning circus skills from Te Pooka on the Stornoway streets and the wide range of musical genres on offer surely gave everyone something to enjoy. The Afro Celts were a fitting summary of the interweaving cultures evident in the festival programme.
And they threw open the gates for each observer to explore the wealth of traditional music found in other cultures. An open minded end to a thoroughly forward looking festival.
Festival Club - Saturday 15th July
I am certain that a cracking night was had by all on the very last night of the HebCeltFest at the Festival Club. I am less certain whether anyone will be able to remember it!
After an exhausting but exciting week performers, festival-goers and staff alike were ready and well able to cut loose. They partied to music from The Crooked Jades, Dochas and amongst others.
The noise level got louder as the night went on. People were shouting to be heard as they discussed the best gigs and debated the week's highs.
It was the last chance to dance and everybody wanted to make the most of it. At one point there was even a conga line threading across the dance floor and the unsubstantiated rumour is that I was a part of it.
With all the highs there was one low; slight sadness marked the celebrations in An Lanntair - the Festival was over for another year.
Susan and I have had an absolutely fantastic time at HebCeltFest, the people, the island, the gigs; I can honestly say the experience will be impossible to top.
Thank you, and good night.