Published: 21/01/2013 11:34 - Updated: 21/01/2013 11:43

Brewing up another top-notch festival

Welshman Jonathan Powell returns to Bogbain's Brew at The Bog Festival in May.
Welshman Jonathan Powell returns to Bogbain's Brew at The Bog Festival in May.

BREW at The Bog, Bogbain Farm’s festival partnership with Fraserburgh-based beermaker BrewDog seems to already be going down a treat with music fans.

The return of the one-day music festival focused on up and coming talent was warmly welcomed by Scotland’s music community leaving even Bogbain’s Yvonne Murray surprised at the reception.

"I was really surprised at how quick the uptake was. We released the tickets just before Christmas and sold about 100 in the first two days," she revealed.

"We are increasing capacity this year, so I suppose we have a bit more of a challenge and it has quietened down since then, but certainly in those first 48 to 72 hours we did very well. It was nice to be able to relax for Christmas knowing the announcement of the line-up had gone down very well. I think there were a lot of Christmas stocking across Scotland filled with Brew at The Bog tickets, which is quite nice."

The first Brew at The Bog Festival took place on the first Saturday of May 2012 and despite unseasonal cold

Kitty the Lion, among the most popular acts at last year's festival, also return.
Kitty the Lion, among the most popular acts at last year's festival, also return.

weather, which even saw a flurry of snow during the day, the newest addition to the Highland festival scene got off to an encouraging start.

"The feedback was unreal. We couldn’t believe the number of emails and comments we got about it and BrewDog themselves were delighted," Murray said.

Unlike most other north music festivals planned for 2013, Brew at The Bog has already unveiled several of the acts who will be appearing at this year’s festival, including a number returning for the second year.

"We were thinking about the bands we wanted and there are bands we wanted for last year that couldn’t make it, but the ones who are coming back are the bands who made a real impact," Murray added.

This includes a sizeable Welsh contingent including Siôn Russell Jones, J.P. Jones, Tomos Lewis and Jonathan Powell, who made a more recent appearance at Bogbain alongside his girlfriend Charlotte Church.

However, the main emphasis will be on home grown Scottish talent, including several acts from the north or with strong Highland connections such as Homework, James Mackenzie, The Whisky River Band and Randolph’s Leap, among with several visitors from the Cenral Belt.

"Fatherson are probably the main ones who are coming back," Murray added.

"They have a massive following and they were the one band where everyone seemed to know the words of the songs. They’ll probably be coming back as the main stage headliner, or one of them.

"Cherri Fosphate are another band that had a great following and seemed to create a real buzz when they were on stage, so it made sense to bring them back."

Also returning are hosts Vic Galloway and Ally McCrae from BBC Radio 1 Scotland and BBC Radio Scotland who introduced the bands last year.

Perhaps one reason the early tickets have been snapped up so quickly is that the festival’s pricing policy has been reviewed with tickets now at the lower price of £20 for non-camping and £30 with camping included.

"It makes it more affordable for local people. There are not many places you can see those bands for that price," Murray said.

The festival has also become a word of mouth success among bands themselves.

"What makes it pretty cool for them is there are lots of festivals that have stages for breakthrough talent, but with those it is literally a tiny stage where nobody is really interested in them. They might get a few of their own fans, but everyone else is interested in the other acts whereas our festival is purely for these breakthrough acts," Murray pointed out.

Music fans enjoying last year's inaugral Brew at the Bog.
Music fans enjoying last year's inaugral Brew at the Bog.

"I really think we are providing something no other festival is by giving them a fair shot and ensuring they are the ones on the posters and not just on there in miniscule writing. The word got round, especially in the Central Belt, and when we announced the festival I got 75 emails from acts wanting to come."

For 2013, the main stage has been pushed back to allow more room and the camping area has also been expanded to allow for a hoped for increase in numbers, but it remains a no frills festival dedicated to music — and beer.

Not that musicians or fans will starve. Among the caterers providing sustenance will be Kingussie-based Woodburns Expresso Pizza Bar, the only Scottish food vendors to be nominated in the UK Festival Awards, and Wild Rover Foods who travel around Scotland in a 1961 Land Rover and serve up natural and sustainable recipes.

Brew at The Bog will not be the only festival taking place at Bogbain in 2013.

The Inverness Whisky Festival returns on the 5th and 6th April, though there might be a move to a city centre location if the number of distilleries involved continues to expand, then the weekend of Friday 31st May to Sunday 2nd June sees the return of the Northern Roots Festival, founded by Murray’s partner musician Bruce MacGregor to fill the gap left by the Inverness Folk Festival.

Further details are still to be released about both festivals.

•The second Brew at The Bog Festival takes place on Saturday 4th May at Bogbain Farm.

Acts confirmed so far include: Fatherson, Randolph’s Leap, Olympic Swimmers, Kitty The Lion, Homework, Found, United Fruit, Chris Devotion & The Expectations, The Little Kicks, Cherri Fosphate, The Stagger Rats, Trapped in Kansas, Fake Major, The Whisky River Band, This Silent Forest, The Winter Tradition, James Mackenzie, J.P. Jones, Michael Cassidy, Donald Macdonald & The Islands, Adam Holmes & The Embers, Siôn Russell Jones, Jonathan Powell, Tomos Lewis, Sienna, Bronagh & The Boys, Poor Things, Seven Summits, Shambles Miller, Verse Metrics. Host: Vic Galloway and Ally McCrae.

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