ONE of Scotland’s best-known singer songwriters is returning to the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival (July 17 to 20) in Stornoway this summer, 17 years after appearing at the first event.
Dougie MacLean received a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to songwriting at the Radio 2 Folk Awards last month.
First Minister Alex Salmond, who presented him with the honour, hailed the singer as a “celebrated artist, nationally and internationally.”
MacLean, who is based in Butterstone, near Dunkeld, will mark 40 years as a professional musician next year and regularly tours the world.
His song, Caledonia, is regarded as Scotland’s alternative national anthem and has been recorded by hundreds of artists, going to Number 1 for Frankie Miller.
It was also chosen to be the theme song for Homecoming Scotland 2009 when it was sung on a TV advert by stars including Sir Sean Connery, Brian Cox and Lulu.
MacLean, who has organised his own event – the Perthshire Amber Festival - in Dunkeld for the last decade, also won a gold disc for sales of over 500,000 for his music used in the film, The Last of the Mohicans, including the melody The Gael. He has collected a string of other awards, including an OBE, Tartan Clef Awards and has even featured in classic newspaper comic-strip The Broons.
Dougie is currently planning a tour of Australia next month and is due to record a new album with the Scottish National Orchestra later this year.
He has strong connections to the islands and is a regular visitor to the area, having had what he calls an ‘inspirational’ home in Uig, on the west side of Lewis, for the last 20 years.
HebCelt is also one of a select number of festivals to feature a new line-up, The MacLean Project, a nine-piece band with MacLean on vocals, guitar, fiddle and digeridoo, his son Jamie, who plays drums and percussion and has produced his father’s last three albums, as well as father and son Gordon Maclean (bass, vocals) and Sorren Maclean (acoustic guitar, vocals); Ross Ainslie (whistles, pipes, mandocello); Chris Marra (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals); Laura Beth Salter (mandolin, vocals); Pete Garnett (accordion, harmonium) and Hannah Fisher (fiddle, vocals).
He said: “This has already been a fantastic year for me and I am looking forward to touring and playing as much as ever. I am delighted to be appearing at HebCelt which is an internationally renowned festival in a beautiful part of the world and an island I’ve come to know extremely well.”
Already confirmed to appear at the festival, which runs from 17-20 July, 2013 and is based in the island of Lewis, are top Scottish live acts The Battlefield Band and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, as well as Virginian five-piece band The Hot Seats.
Festival director Caroline Maclennan, said: “Dougie MacLean is one of the biggest names in Scottish music and we are thrilled that he will be joining us at HebCelt this year.
“He has been an amazing ambassador for Scotland around the world and was rightly honoured for his achievements at the Radio 2 Folk Awards. He will add something special to an already strong line-up at the event.”
Advance tickets are being held at 2012 prices of £70 (£55 for concession and £15 for children under 14) for the main arena events.
Last year’s event - headlined by The Waterboys, The Proclaimers and Kassidy - saw a major expansion in programming and attracted visitors from 19 different countries.
The 18th HebCelt takes place between 17-20 July, 2013 and will have two main stages on the Castle Green in front of the Lews Castle in Stornoway, as well as performances in An Lanntair and throughout the rural community.