My anticipation levels for this year’s Craigie Hill festival have been set pretty high, as last year’s event was one of my highlights of the summer. The weather in Perth was glorious and there was just a great fun vibe to the proceedings. Matters were also helped by a terrific line-up and the presence of Ruby, the beautiful Volkswagen Campervan bar (read more about her here), who served up a signature cocktail dubbed “Buckie Braes” to the eager sun-kissed crowd. In fact, the cocktail proved so popular that Ruby’s owners Catriona Duncan and Graham McFarlane had to make several repeat trips to the off-license to replenish its main ingredient, Buckfast.
I don’t know if it was the Buckfast talking but I was also amazed at the quality and diversity of local talent. There was everything from indie-rock (The True Gents) and folk (Eddie Reader), to Funk (The Purple Felts) and Country (Rancho Bebop and The Red Pine Timber Company). This year though the headliner is The Rude Boys, local ska heroes who have reformed especially for the occasion.
As I arrive at Craigie Hill the weather is a wee bit overcast, but I keep my fingers crossed. I make a visit to Ruby, ostensibly to catch up with my mate Cat, but I can’t resist a cheeky wee Buckie Brae’s. Is it just me or does it feel sunnier already!
I'm running a little bit late but I just manage to catch the end of the True Gents set and enjoy hearing the great 'Invermay Wall'. Singer Tobe Jefferey is in fine voice again after his brush with laryngitis last year. I was gutted to have missed the rest of their set, as my mate says they played a stormer. Their upcoming single (out on September 14th on Twin City Records) "Feels Like Heaven being a standout track.
Next up there is a little bit of a change of pace as one of the event organisers, Ali Pibworth, takes to the stage with her partner in crime Emma Jayne. Together they form The Sibellas, an acoustic duo with a nice line in two-part harmonies and quirky cover versions. I was overjoyed to hear "Tonight You Belong To Me", a 1927 hit for Gene Austin that was made famous again in Steve Martins 1982 film "The Jerk". It's a song that's well suited to Jayne's ukelele playing and the pair's vocals do it great justice. If that wasn't enough nostalgia for you then there is another killer cover in the form of Dick Van Dykes "Hushabye Mountain" from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".
Following on the heels of The Sibellas are local band Longstay, fresh from releasing their debut crowdfunded long-player, "Calling Me Home". It's a cracking listen and their set today strikes a nice balance between songs from that album and inspired cover versions. Of the originals, "Summerton" and "Leaving" are particularly impressive. It's nice to see cover versions of local bands Southpaw and The Brothers Osborne joining tracks by Steve Earle and Bryan Adams.
The suns out in full force as Ranch Bebop and the Full Moon Howlers serenade the Craigie Hill audience with their unique brand of cowboy country. They are joined by Owen Nicholson playing some really nifty slide gee-tar on "The Wild West Is Where I Want to Be" and Rude Boy Stewart Campbell-Clark warms up his tonsils when he provides guest vocals on 'Everybody's Talkin'' and 'Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'.
Punk influenced indie band The Sandemans 'Lose Control' with a visceral set that includes one of their best songs "Looking For Love", and The Cascades bring the funk with soulful covers such as '110th Street' and 'How Long Has This Been Going On?'
Then it is the moment that people have been waiting for. Everyone is on their feet as Stewart Campbell-Clark and The Rude Boys take to the stage. They prove insanely popular and before long people are skanking for all their worth. The Rude Boys polish off old classics like 'Explain' and perhaps their best-known song 'Uruguay' and the exemplary brass section really earn their pay packets on a heroic sounding ska version of the Hawai 5-0 theme tune. Sparky shows off his vocal chops on Louise Armstrong's 'We Have All The Time In The World" and there aren't many people standing still for a special version of Toots and the Maytals 'Monkey Man'.
It's a tough act to follow but local Americana act Red Pine Timber Company are up to the job. They play a blinding set including recent single Hollow Tree and a really slinky version of Bowie's Sorrow. As the sun sets on the outdoor portion of the festival, revellers head indoors to the clubhouse where the music will continue into the night. I alas have to head home.
Perthshire hosted some amazing gigs this year across a range of top-class venues. Here are our New Year honours.
December 31st Monday 2018
We reviewed An Orange Conspiracy live way back in 2017, now they are poised for great things with their debut ep being released on Rough Trade.
December 18th Tuesday 2018
Colin headed to Perth Theatre Pantomime of Snow White and the Seven Dames to review this hilarious Pantomime production.
December 10th Monday 2018