Islay Sessions 2019, a look back

Three weeks ago I listened to a lot of very nice music during the Islay Sessions 2019 at the Port Charlotte Hotel and Bruichladdich Hall. After that the day job and a few other things got in the way, so I only now get a chance to look back at it. Those who follow me on Twitter might have seen the clips already (individually), but here’s a video with a few impressions I’ve pulled together (all recorded on my phone, so it’s not studio quality. But I think it’s good enough to give you an idea):

The Sessions took place over three days from 22-24/Nov/2019. The Friday kicked off the event with a concert by newly formed VOX in the conservatory of the Port Charlotte Hotel. They played a variety of songs, with Laura-Beth and Kim (as well as on occasion the audience) providing the vocals. After the concert most went to the Port Charlotte Hotel bar for the informal part of the evening. Members of Eabhal and VOX joined forces and played a variety. Later during the evening Grahame Allison (owner of the Port Charlotte Hotel) sang a Gaelic song he performs regularly, what made it even better was Kaitlin Ross (of Eabhal) and Kim Carnie at times joining in.

Saturday saw the main concert at Bruichladdich Hall. After an introduction by Greig Shaw (brother of the late Fraser Shaw, who started the Islay Sessions) the Charlie Stewart Duo warmed up the audience with a variety of tunes on fiddle and guitar. Once they finished their set they stayed on stage to support Kim Carnie who sang some beautiful songs in Gaelic and English for us. Again there was some audience participation after a crash course in Gaelic for some. After the break and the Islay Sessions raffle of CDs and whisky Eabhal took the stage, mainly playing songs from their debut album This Is How The Ladies Dance. Again some beautiful tunes including some with rousing pipes. I headed back to the cottage after the concert as I was tired, but I hear their was more music in the Port Charlotte Hotel bar until early in the morning.

Sunday evening I finally got to see and hear the concert I had been waiting for for a year (she had to cancel the previous year as she had lost her voice, but this year all went to plan): Claire Hastings gave a wonderful solo performance with guitar and ukulele and of course her wonderful voice. Among other songs Fairweather Beggar and I Missed The Boat got an outing as well as a new song she wasn’t even sure it was finished just yet.

I had a great weekend and straight after their sets bought two albums online (Eabhal and Kim Carnie’s In Her Company). Angus was of the same opinion, as he writes in the Oban Times, Thrills and spills at Islay Sessions. If everything goes to plan I’ll be back for the 2020 Islay Sessions, scheduled for 20-22/Nov/2020. May be see you there?

Islay Sessions 2019 coming up

Just over a week to go until the Islay Sessions 2019, taking place 22-24/Nov/2019 (Fri-Sun). As of writing this I believe there are still some tickets available, but not for all events (I think the Friday is sold out). So who will be there this year?

The one I’m most looking forward to is Claire Hastings. Claire was scheduled to perform last year, but unfortunately had to cancel as she lost her voice, rather important for a singer. I’ve bought both of her albums and have listened to them many times. Here’s one of my favourites:

Fair Weather Beggar by Claire Hastings

Another one is this one, although I hope nobody will miss their boat on the way to Islay:

I Missed the Boat by Claire Hastings (here with Jenn Butterworth)

Next on my list are Eabhal, some of the members I know from previous Islay Sessions. Here’s a nice taster for their music:

Eabhal performing at Showcase Scotland 2019

The one I know least about is Kim Carnie. I will find out about her during the Saturday concert as well as on Friday where she will be performing with Laura-Beth Salter, Innes White (which I both know from previous sessions) and Calum MacCrimmon as VOX (no website I know of).

Very much looking forward to a great weekend with lots of great music, meeting old and new friends!

Nice walk to Islay’s Soldier’s Rock video

Probably one of the most popular walks on Islay, the walk out to Soldier’s Rock on the Oa. Some great views to be enjoyed, in this video enhanced by some drone footage. After leaving the Oa there are also views from the south coast around Lagavulin.

One thing I would have done different though, I wouldn’t have walked through the cows with their calves. I have a very healthy respect of cattle, in particular when with calves, and if at all possible give them a wide berth. Simple self preservation.

Islay Pipe Band performing in a rainy Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Obviously a bit of rain isn’t going to stop the Islay Pipe Band from performing, plenty enough rain on Islay to be used to it. Here they are playing for almost a quarter of an hour in a rainy Buchanan Street in Glasgow, recorded by Eric Traynor during Piping Live 2019:

KILCHOMAN DISTILLERY ISLE OF ISLAY PIPE BAND PERFORM AT PIPING LIVE 2019

PS: I noticed there’s a man (blue jacket, green backpack) going round doing something with some kind of instrument at the drones of the pipers while they are playing. What is he doing there? Is he helping them or distracting them?

October Friday night Islay dram

Islay Whisky News & Links

First Friday evening in October 2019. It’s been a long and busy week in the day job, so I’ve decided to treat myself tonight with a dram or two from one of my favourite Islay distilleries (if you read this post you should be able to figure out which ones they are). Here’s a picture of the dram for tonight:

Picture of a bottle and dram of Laphroaig Lore Islay single malt whisky with a water jug
Laphroaig Lore Islay single malt whisky

Enjoying it with some nice 85% dark chocolate while pondering that I should probably blog here more again. I’ll try my best.

Rachel’s stained glass birds

This isn’t strictly speaking an Islay post, although I came across it because someone mentioned Islay in a comment to it. I’m not even sure if Rachel has ever been to Islay. Either way, Rachel makes birds from stained glass and I think they look absolutely amazing. The birds include Choughs and Hen Harriers, birds frequently spotted on Islay. If you know your birds you will spot the Chough in her tweet immediately:

For more of Rachel’s work including the already mentioned Hen Harrier and also some Greenland White-fronted Goose head over to Rachel’s website. It is being rebuilt as of writing this, but you can page through two excellent albums of her work.

Nice video about Islay’s Machrie golf links course

Islay on Video

While I don’t know much about golf and have never played it I can appreciate its appeal to many people. If I was playing it I think a links course would be my favourite, like the Machrie on Islay. Even on a dreich day like when this video was filmed it has a great atmosphere:

Playing the Machrie golf links course on Islay on a dreich day

I think even on a dreich day it looks impressive, also remember that you can enjoy a wee dram or two or three of Islay single malt once you’ve finished your round successfully…

Breaking news: AlbaCoin and AlbaContract to be trialled on Islay

Islay News

Some great breaking Islay news this morning, which should be exciting for both IT nerds and whisky buffs alike. The Scottish Government is announcing that Islay has been chosen for the trial of the roll-out of both AlbaCoin and AlbaContracts. This will put Islay and Scotland truly on the map for the new exciting blockchain technology. They will revolutionise how business as well as everyday transactions will be conducted on Islay and soon all over Scotland and even the world.

AlbaCoin and AlbaContracts are based on the blockchain technology, the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies and more. AlbaCoin is an electronic cryptocurrency which will replace physical banknotes and coins with fully electronic and safe currency. It is also likely to be the new currency of an independent Scotland should Scotland gain independence in the near future. AlbaContracts are intelligent e-contracts based on the blockchain technology, allowing secure and trustworthy transactions and tracking in the digitalised economy.

Some information about the technology from Lead Project Manager John Holland:

AlbaCoin and AlbaContract both use the newly developed and extremely secure 512 byte P.E.A.T. (Petaflop Excentric Algorithmic Triangulation) method, which is impossible to break. Leading cryptographic experts were involved in its development.

The technology is supported by all major banks and law firms as well as the major technology giants and will be integrated in all major technology platforms and operating systems.

The technology will be rolled out to all households and businesses on Islay and Jura with training and information sessions starting soon. The trail is funded by the government and will not cost the users anything, while bringing plenty of benefits.

AlbaContracts will provide huge benefits to the distilleries, who through the blockchain technology of AlbaContracts will be able to trace all the ingredients from source to bottle, e.g. barley from field through maltings to mashing, distilling, maturing and bottling. The ultimate in trace-ability. Bruichladdich wasn’t available for comment, but it is believed they will implement the technology to support their provenance and terroir ambitions until their new local Islay maltings are complete.

Certainly exciting and interesting times for Islay!

Sailing the Scottish west coast (incl Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay)

Islay on Video

The Scottish west coast is probably one of the best places in the world for a sailing holiday. Stunning landscapes, beautiful bays and lochs to anchor, ever changing views (and weather), what more could you want? Charlie Hitchen did just that and recorded their adventures in a nice video. The first couple of minutes cover Islay, Jura, Oronsay and Colonsay:

Charlie Hitchen: Sailing to Skye and the Inner Sound

Lots of traditional music in the video, including some recorded during a session at the Islay Hotel in Port Ellen (with some of the usual suspects….).

Islay’s neighbour Colonsay with a drone, revisited

Colonsay Excursions

How about another visit to Islay’s neighbour Colonsay this Saturday evening? A few years ago I shared Jonas Igel’s Colonsay by drone video, tonight is the turn of Tom Englander’s version. Nice views of a sunny Kiloran Bay, but also a few other places:

Colonsay with a drone, by Tom Englander

I hope you enjoyed the views!