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Gaelic music will be celebrated with live audiences once again across the Highlands and Islands as the Blas Festival returns to the stage next month, with an impressive line-up of traditional musicians and singers, most of whom weren’t able to perform for over 18 months due to the pandemic.
 
Musicians including Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson, Donald Shaw and Charlie McKerron, Skipinnish front man and singer, Norrie MacIver and BBC Radio 2 Folk awards winners, Mischa Macpherson, Brìghde Chaimbeul, Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey, will perform during the nine-day festival in November which will take place in venues from Staffin in Skye to Strathy and Applecross to Arisaig.
 
The Blas Festival, which celebrates Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over 9 days of events in venues across the Highlands and Islands, will host 26 concerts and cèilidhs as well as a variety of workshops and Facebook Live events. Blas, which means ‘taste’ or ‘sample’ is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council and will take place from 19-27 November.  It will open with a brand-new musical commission, Buaidh nam Ban, by Mànran singer and TV presenter, Kim Carnie, celebrating the life and works of women bàrds including Màiri Mhòr nan Òran and will culminate in a night of special concerts in Strathy, Raasay, Kilmuir and Inverness.
 
As always, a special birthday is being celebrated at the 17th Blas Festival: Legendary Lochaber left-handed fiddler, Angus Grant, will celebrate his 90th birthday in style with musician friends including former pupils Allan Henderson, Ingrid Henderson, Sarah Jayne Shankland, Eilidh Shaw and Kevin Cameron. There will be also a special night dedicated to the Uist singer, piper and tradition bearer, Catriona Garbutt, who will be joined by fellow Uist musicians and singers including Sineag MacIntyre, piper Dr Angus Macdonald, Catriona’s nephew Niall Campbell and Ruairidh Gray.
 
Fiddler Iain Fraser will the premiere his new album Gneiss which was commissioned by Fèis Rois. The album celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Adult Fèis (Fèis Rois nan Inbheach) and features a host of artists who have a strong link with this much-loved annual event.

On the final night of the festival there will be a special performance of the soundtrack from BBC Scotland’s Gaelic drama, Gruth is Uachdar (Crowdie and Cream), composed by Donald Shaw and Charlie McKerron of Capercaillie. They were awarded the Royal Television Award for both soundtrack and theme tune and will recreate the music for the first time in 20 years since its broadcast in the stunning setting of Inverness Cathedral with a stellar line up of traditional musicians and an opening set by Karen Matheson.


Other highlights of this year’s Blas include young folk band, Eabhal, along with Gaelic singer, Deirdre Graham, in Lochcarron; Tim Edey and Ross Ainslie in Arisaig; west coast folk group Dàimh in Gairloch; Gaelic singer Norrie MacIver and young trio, Hecla, in Strathdearn and Strathy; Celtic Praise in Inverness Cathedral with John Murdo Martin and Isobel Ann Martin; and husband and wife duo, Fionnag NicConnich and Brian Ó hEadhra in Lochinver and Applecross with their family and Emma MacLeod, a Gaelic singer from Scalpay who went viral on Twitter during lockdown with her stunning contribution to #CovidCeilidh, started by Highland fiddler Duncan Chisholm, and who won the prestigious Traditional Gold Medal at last week’s National Mòd.

The full programme of events can be found at www.blas.scot along with details of how to purchase tickets - tickets on sale from 9am on Tuesday 19th October.