Sunday, 19 June 2016

Oban Times Music Column - June 16 2016

MARKIES Music Festival revived Oban Live’s party atmosphere last weekend, drawing huge crowds. Audiences enjoyed a stacked bill of free music on one of the hottest weekends of the year so far.

Local bands such as Ceol an Aire and Crackin Craic were joined by up-and-coming traditional outfit Hò-rò and popular Irish folk group Crooked Reel. One of the biggest receptions was saved for Oban rock trio Chunks, who headlined the first night of the festival.

Chunks bassist Stevo Finlayson, who helped organise the festival, is a passionate promoter of the Oban scene and believes the response to the weekend is further evidence that it’s growing.

‘Like Oban Live, Markies Music Fest shows how much passion there is for music in and around Oban,’ says Stevo. ‘It would be great to see more events like this in the local area.

‘Our slot went very well, the place was heaving and there was such a buzz. We played in Markies a few weeks ago for the Oban Live fringe and thought it couldn’t get any busier than that, but it was. That’s the kind of gig we like: when everybody is in good spirits and really enjoying our set.’

The festival is the first that Markie Dans have attempted as a three day event. Despite the big numbers the weekend mostly went off without a hitch, the only regrettable consequence being that latecomers in the evening were turned away.

‘Both the beer garden and pub were very busy,’ says organiser Lindsay MacMillan. ‘The staff and stewards coped excellently with the huge volume of customers we had.

‘However, the feedback we have had from customers so far was very positive. It’s really difficult to say what the highlight was. Every band played well – it was a brilliant mix of musical talent from here and away.’

DUNBEG songwriter Mike Nisbet surprised fans on Saturday by releasing a free album. The ten-track LP, entitled ‘Fashion & Trash’, is the multi-instrumentalist’s follow-up to last year’s ‘The Ballad of Body and Soul’.

When speaking to The Oban Times a few months ago, Mike had just finished the unnamed project and was set to re-record in a studio. However, the final result is a completely DIY project, recorded entirely on his iPhone.

‘Something about these first recordings stuck with me,’ says Mike. ‘There was a certain vibe and romance to these versions that I loved. I realised I wanted to share these versions of the songs at their most honest and raw, like a view into the sketch book.’

Mike’s most recent project was with The Artpackt Collective, a group of London-based solo artists. He released compilation albums with the group and performed covers and traditional material with them on recent tours.

However, ‘Fashion & Trash’ sees Mike return to playing entirely original songs. In spite of the lo-fi quality of recordings, the album is a cohesive body of work full of bluesy melodies and fingerpicked guitar. 

First Printed in The Oban Times on June 16 2016

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