Get reel! How Argyll’s young musicians are blazing a trail in the Scottish trad scene

Scotland's trad music scene is alive and kicking, and full of surprises. From fantastic folk music to Celtic fusion, a new wave of Scottish musicians and bands are experimenting with the very idea of what Scottish trad music is. Traditional Scottish instruments, such as the bagpipe, fiddle, accordion and clàrsach (Scottish harp) feature along with a heady mix of other musical influences. The result is a pulsating, vibrant and rousing sound that’s causing a stir on the global stage. Argyll’s young musicians are leading the charge, creating an extraordinary musical fusion that is guaranteed to get you dancing. And you can catch them live at one of Argyll’s many music festivals this summer.

Tide Lines
Tide Lines is a young band making waves in the Scottish trad music scene. This four-piece band is heavily influenced by the traditional music of the Gàidhealtachd but their sound is highly eclectic, driven by acoustic and electric guitars, with drums and keyboards. The band’s debut album broke into the top 20 of the official iTunes download charts. Dreams We Never Lost was released on Friday 1st June 2017 and immediately began storming up the charts to number 15. Band member Ross Wilson is from the island of Mull.

Heron Valley
Another Argyll band to look out for is Heron Valley. This group of six young musicians from Dunoon and Strachur create an energy-fuelled sound and are awesome to see live. Their roots lie in Scottish and Irish traditional music, while taking influence from various folk, country and bluegrass styles. They’re deeply influenced by the landscape of Argyll and even climbed Beinn an Lochain at the Rest and Be Thankful to shoot the video for their single Home. Catch them on home ground at this year’s Gig at The Gathering.

Trail West
This up-and-coming ceilidh band from Tiree offers a refreshing yet traditional West Coast Ceilidh Band sound. They’re causing a storm with high-energy tunes and arrangements and the multi-instrumental talents of Andrew Findlater and Alain Campbell.

Skipinnish may not be as young as the bands above, but they’re definitely young at heart. They’ve been on the Scottish music scene for a number of years, but the band is riding a growing wave of popularity right now. 2017 was a huge year for Skipinnish, as they were named Live Act of the Year at the Scots Trad Awards, released four consecutive chart-topping singles and headlined at some of Britain’s biggest music festivals. The band has developed a powerful and popular blend of traditional, contemporary and West Highland music. Band founder Angus MacPhail hails from the Hebridean island of Tiree. He began playing the accordion at the age of nine, taught by Gordon Connell who has helped to produce so many accordion players and subsequent bands with Tiree connections. West Highland fiddler Archie McAllister comes from Campbeltown.

Skerryvore is another young-at-heart band. Crowds go wild for their high energy take on traditional Scottish music. The Skerryvore musicians are from Tiree and their music is deeply rooted in Argyll. The band was voted Live Act of the Year in 2016 at the Scottish Traditional Music Award. Ceilidh music, rock, pop, jazz and Cajun combine with a strong Celtic influence to create epic live sounds. Skerryvore’s barn-storming single Live Forever is the theme song for Mark Beaumont’s Wild About Argyll campaign. Skerryvore is heavily involved in the Scottish music scene, creating Tiree Music Festival and OBANLive.

Catch them live
Your best bet to see these bands live is at one of Argyll’s many music festivals. Tiree Music Festival is a musical island adventure, with traditional and Gaelic performers and contemporary Scottish rock and indie artists. Oban Live is the biggest live music event in the region. It is a celebration of the best of Scottish and international music organised by Skerryvore with VIP afterparties at The View, Oban's ceilidh house. Best of the West (BOWFest) is a cracking festival in a stunning setting at Inveraray Castle. FyneFest at the head of Loch Fyne in Argyll is a family-friendly festival and the line-up is designed to get you dancing. Gig in the Goil is a fabulous wee festival held in Lochgoilhead, and this year Skipinnish is headlining. Gigha Music Festival, Colonsay Music Festival, Jura Music Festival, Gig At The Gathering, MOKFest and ButeFest are just a few of the other festivals that feature Scottish trad music.

Take a look at our events diary for a full list of Argyll music festivals. Once you’ve experienced the epic live sound of these Argyll trad bands, you’ll be hooked – and we’re pretty sure their music will reel you in!

Header image: Skipinnish at Gig at the Gathering