Fèis Rois celebrates Cèilidh Trail’s 21st anniversary

Mairearad Green.

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Project Smok

A double album featuring music from former former Cèilidh Trail participants is being released to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the pioneering traditional music programme.

Dingwall-based Arts organisation Fèis Rois is also hosting an online extravaganza to celebrate the occasion.

Fèis Rois was set for a fantastic summer of concerts and cèilidhs throughout Scotland, England, France and Australia to mark the milestone, but due to Covid-19, the organisation took the decision to cancel. Eager to continue with some sort of celebration however the double compilation album will be released next month, featuring tracks donated by 21 former Cèilidh Trail participants including Highland duo Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach as well as bands which include former Ceilidh Trail musicians: Treacherous Orchestra, Inyal, The Outside Track, Project Smok and Fras.

To coincide with the launch of the album, there will also be an online concert on Saturday, August 15, which would have been the date of the final Cèilidh Trail performance at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

The concert will be hosted on the Fèis Rois Facebook page and will feature 14 former participants including current BBC Radio Scotland Traditional Musician of the Year, Ali Levack and TV presenter and singer Kim Carnie. Other Highland musicians involved include Chloe Bryce from Tain and Conal McDonagh from electronic folk band, Inyal.

The Cèilidh Trail programme provides young musicians and singers, aged 16 to 25, with the opportunity to take part in a professional summer tour with support from a team of musicians and specialist tutors and has now been adopted by a number of other Fèisean across Scotland.

The very first Cèilidh Trail was coordinated by multi award-winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and featured west coast accordion player, piper and artist, Mairearad Green who commented: ‘Having that platform from such a young age to develop my craft in such a supportive environment was invaluable to me and it meant that I could move down to Glasgow and support my time at University financially by doing gigs.

‘It also meant I had a strong community and network of fellow musicians from the Highlands and we are all still friends today and many of us are working in the music industry thanks to Fèis Rois.’

The Cèilidh Trail is a unique opportunity, offering its young participants training in the core skills required for a career in the creative industries, giving them a taste of what life as a professional touring musician can be like.

Fiona Dalgetty, Chief Executive, Feis Rois, said: ‘We were determined to mark this big milestone in the Cèilidh Trail history, despite the pandemic and are excited to launch this new album which showcases the incredible talent that has come from the Cèilidh Trail over the years.

‘We hope our audiences will tune in for this very special concert on August 15 and celebrate the musical talent from Scotland with us.’

This project is funded by Creative Scotland. The first Cèilidh Trail took place after former Fèis Rois Chief Executive, Rita Hunter, visited Cape Breton as part of a Highland Council delegation and was inspired by similar models of work happening there.

The album will be available from https://feisrois.bandcamp.com/ from August 15, and the concert will be hosted on the Fèis Rois Facebook page on Saturday August 15 from 8pm-11pm.