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Bella and the Bear playing in the acoustic tent in 2015

Falling in Love with the Love of Music All Over Again

It’s creeping up on two years since Sophie Rogers stood there, guitar in hand, and dazzled us with her smile.

For all the music that breezed through HebCelt that gorgeous 2014, her set was among the most momentous.

Not just because the ‘An Overflow of Words’ singer songwriter showed just why she had earned the right to travel from Glasgow and be there having triumphed in Calmac Culture.

But in delivering another first to Stornoway’s music lovers - becoming the debut act on the acoustic stage which has since gone on to sear itself in the memories and affections of thousands.

It was a glorious start, and crucial in the evolution of what the festival sets out to do.

For all HebCelters rejoice in the foot stomping heart pumping sky reaching glory that goes with this year’s headliners Runrig, or will dance a jig to the reels of the Red Hot Chili Piper and more, the acoustic stage is an altogether different showcase under the gaze of Lews Castle.

It’s a corner of the festival where emotions are pulled, ears caressed and imaginations fired. It’s where careers get a lift, favourites get up close and newcomers become friends.

It is, well, something special. An intimate way to help blend the diversity of this musical adventure in much the same way different malt whiskies can delight the tongue.

Where else could you expect to combine the expressive meditational and reggae inspired grooves of Derbyshire man Sam Garrett, for instance, with the vocal paintings evoked in the tones of Bunderland?

Or to journey to the island with The Sea Atlas, awash with thoughts of home and waves, with what is sure to be one of the sessions of the year.

Ayrshire is represented this year, with Troon’s own Alan Frew looking to share his new album with the HebCelt crowd, and debutants Brian ÓhEadhra and Fiona Mackenzie, a Highland based husband and wife combo, looking to Stornoway as inspiration for cutting their first disc together.

Add a touch of Spanish, a Little Fire and the powerhouse voice of Southern-Gothic, alt-country blues singer Amythyst Kiah, the acoustic stage is as tempting a berth for music lovers as you could hope.

And that’s key to the charm of HebCelt, well I think anyway. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. From big name stars to emerging talent. From weekend passes to the day tickets that went on sale last Monday (29th Feb).

A chance to explore and dream or just discover.

To be a part of it, to soak in the atmosphere, and enjoy the island wide hug from the community.

And to once again be falling in love with the love of music all over again.

This year, like every year.

Now, how do you like the sound of that?