Award-winning folk rock band The Levellers are the latest headliners to be added to this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival.
The band has been playing to sell-out crowds for over 25 years and has a string of gold and platinum albums to their credit.
They will top the HebCelt bill on Saturday, July 19, in what will be a welcome return to the island festival’s main stage for the first time since a memorable gig in 2006.
The 19th HebCelt, based in Stornoway in the island of Lewis, will be held from July 16 to 19.
Other headliners Big Country and Donnie Munro have already been confirmed, along with Canadian band Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys and local Lewis outfit Willie Campbell and the Open Day Rotation.
The festival has also announced that the line-up will include internationally-renowned fiddle player Duncan Chisholm, singer Rachel Sermanni, Galway quartet We Banjo 3, Mànran frontman Norrie Maciver, Edinburgh-born songwriter Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code), top Scottish trad outfit Rura, British group Hunter & The Bear, experimental new five-piece Metta, Glasgow group This Silent Forest and 15-year-old Lewis singer/songwriter Eleanor Nicolson.
Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “Levellers are a fantastic live band and we are excited that they are returning to Stornoway this year after making such an impression last time."
“We are delighted at the way the line-up is evolving, with a diverse range of artists that I’m sure will capture the imagination of our audience as we seek to build on last year’s record-breaking event.”
Levellers were formed by Mark Chadwick and Jeremy Cunningham in Brighton in 1988 and were later joined by Charlie Heather (drums), Jon Sevink (fiddle) and Alan Miles (harmonica, guitar and mandolin). Simon Friend subsequently replaced Miles and that line-up continues today, with the addition of Matt Savage on keyboards.
Over quarter of a century of performing, the band have seen several albums achieve gold and platinum status and secure chart success with singles like This Garden and What A Beautiful Day. They are regulars on the festival circuit, including Glastonbury and, since 2003, have run their own successful Beautiful Days Festival each August in Devon.
Mark Chadwick said: “I am really looking forward to going back to Stornoway in July to play at the HebCelt festival. I can’t believe it’s been eight years since we last played there! It’s a lovely little festival.”
Duncan Chisholm, who made his name in bands including Wolfstone, is now internationally acclaimed as a solo artist. He was nominated in two categories in the 2013 Radio 2 Folk Awards (musician of the year and best traditional track) and was also shortlisted for Scottish album of the year.
He performed at the first HebCelt and has made a number of appearances since, notably with Julie Fowlis in 2010 and 2012. This year he will be accompanied by musicians representing the cream of the trad folk scene – Jarlath Henderson (uilleann pipes / whistles), Tony Byrne (guitar), Davie Dunsmuir (electric guitar), Ross Hamilton (bass) and Martin O’Neill (bodhrán / drums).
Duncan said: “The Hebridean Celtic Festival is a jewel in the Scottish music calendar. I was lucky enough to play the first festival and see it grow into the major event is has become. This year I am delighted to be returning with my band and looking forward to sharing my music on the Island of Lewis once more."
Rachel Sermanni, from Carrbridge, who releases her new EP, Everything Changes, next week, spent much of last year touring North America and Canada, including the Dawson City Music Festival and the Calgary, Ottawa and Interstellar Rodeo festivals, where she shared main stages with the likes of Steve Earl, Sharon Van Etten, The Alabama Shakes and Vampire Weekend.
Her music featured in the recent Royal Bank of Scotland Here For You TV advert campaign.
Rachel, who appeared at the festival in 2011, said: “I've been lucky to go to HebCelt festival once before. I have such fond memories. So much fun was had. The people are wonderful. I cannot wait to return.”
Despite her youth, Eleanor Nicolson, who recently issued an EP, Stop Gravity, is already a well-known artist, having played a number of gigs in Stornoway, as well as Ullapool and Inverness. She has also written with Colin Macleod (formerly known as The Boy who Trapped the Sun) and Willie Campbell.