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This weekend the town of Oban will be transformed into the centre of Argyll’s biggest outdoor event. Born from the seed of success of the Skerryvore Decade concert, held at Mossfield Stadium in 2015, Oban Live is approaching its fifth year.
The 2019 two-day music extravaganza will bring the total number of attendees since the event’s inception to more than 25,000 and the total economic benefit to Oban and surrounding areas to more than £5 million.
The importance of events like this go well beyond just the direct economic impact and the fringe benefits to the communities in which they are held are wide ranging and have enduring effect. Last year’s event was undoubtedly the most impressive so far, with the pinnacle being the finishing sets from Skerryvore when they were joined by the Oban High School Pipe Band on the Sunday night. The sight and the sound of the Skerryvore boys accompanied by the youth of Oban was a strong symbol of what Oban Live is about. I wasn’t able to witness this live, but even the footage broadcast on social media conveyed clearly the power of the moment and the emotion on stage and in the audience.
Traditional music in Scotland is enjoying a blossoming renaissance and proof of that is encapsulated by huge events like Oban Live, which are centred on the music of the West Highlands and Islands.
The Fèis movement, music tuition in schools,local and national Mods, Runrig, Capercaillie, Gaelic medium education, the tireless work of many individuals and a whole host of other contributing and interweaving factors, groups and people, all on the bedrock of one of the richest indigenous musical cultures in the world, have combined to bring this golden era of Highland music.
Skerryvore has grown as part of this renaissance and by running events such as Oban Live, and with their close involvement with the Tiree Music Festival as well as spreading their own music across the globe, they are now adding significantly to it. The amount of work and financial risk involved in running an event like Oban Live is significant and would scare most from ever attempting it. It is no accident that many similar events have not endured. I take my hat off to Daniel and his team for not only attempting it but delivering it year after year with each event surpassing the last.
With a top roster of bands, including Skerryvore themselves, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, We Banjo 3, The Elephant Sessions, Talisk, many others and probably a few surprises, the music this year will be astoundingly good. If you have not yet done so, I would encourage anyone reading this to buy a ticket and in doing so give yourself one of the best weekends of music and partying you will ever experience!
This year will be the first we will miss as a band and it will also be the first since selling the Skipinnish Ceilidh House and I am certainly going to miss the excitement of what was always one of the busiest weekends our year. I wish good luck to all the Oban Live Team and to the lads at The View for a successful weekend of music.