Peninsula comes alive with the sound of music

Marieke Huysmans-Berthouis and her crew stopped for an impromptu performance at Lochaline.

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It’s been a very long time since live music was anything other than overhearing my husband singing along with Alexa while he was cooking dinner, so two gigs in under a week had me giddy with excitement, particularly both so close to home, writes Nic Goddard.

The first was very impromptu, over at Lochaline pontoons on Monday night when a tip off from a friend on facebook about Pianocean calling in for an unscheduled performance between planned stops at Mull and Oban.

Pianocean is Marieke Huysmans-Berthouis; a sailor, singer songwriter and pianist who is sailing the world, writing songs and playing concerts as she goes with the piano on board her boat.

Sailing along with Marieke is a tiny crew of her best friend, husband, toddler son and ships cat, the husband and son have joined the crew along the way.

She held the assembled audience, on moore yachts, a kayak, camping chairs and sitting on the pontoons captive with her beautiful voice, talented piano playing and wonderful songs including ‘The Small Isles Song’ written just that weekend as she sailed around and played concerts on Rum, Muck, Eigg and Canna.

Marieke explained: ‘I really enjoyed it, it was unexpected because we’ve really improvised this concert at the very last minute and I was impressed how many people came.

‘The audience was really smiley and offered us a warm welcome. All the crew was really happy to have made this port of call in Lochaline for this lovely small community.’

The people of Lochaline and beyond were delighted to have her there. Community
Development officer Lilia Dobrokhodova explained: ‘I got in touch to ask if Pianocean could squeeze in a visit to Lochaline and she said she would consider if, ‘weather and fair winds permitting’.

‘They arrived on Monday afternoon and played that night. The sound of the piano
and Marieke’s voice over the calm evening waters was magical.’

Local band STRAS starred in an Under Canvas Across the Highlands concert at Strontian.

The second event was rather more planned and took place in Strontian – the final destination in the Eden Court ‘Under Canvas Across the Highlands’ events. This took place in the open sides canvas tent complete with pop up bar and wood fired pizza oven in the Strontian showground.

We went to the Friday night event featuring well known local band FRAS. I’ve seen FRAS play a fair few times here in Strontian and on the Isle of Rum and having never managed to sit still at one of their gigs before it was no surprise that by the end of the evening there was almost a larger number of people out on the field dancing than there was sitting around tables under canvas.

Foot tapping and hand clapping can only suffice for so long when pipes, box, flute and
guitar all come together in such perfect combinations.