PADDY READY TO BOX CLEVER AT HEBCELT
Hebridean Celtic Festival
Year of Natural Scotland
- Young Traditional Musician of the Year heads for HebCelt
- Festival debut for talented accordionist
- Stage slot fulfils long-held wish
Being pointed at in the street is something Paddy Callaghan may have to get used to.
After picking up this year’s prestigious BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year award in February, the multi-instrumentalist from Glasgow is in demand more than ever as success brings him more fame.
“If you told me a year ago I'd be in this position, I'd have thought you were going crazy”, he said. “It's what I've always wanted to do, but it’s quite overwhelming that it’s actually happening.
“Being stopped in the street and pointed at as 'that accordion guy off the telly' is very surreal. Also, a lot of kids have come up to me a little star-struck and I always remember what I was like at that age speaking to artists that since then I've had the honour of working with. But at that age it’s special so it’s always nice to try to encourage them to do well.”
Paddy, 26, initially started on the tin-whistle and also learned the harp and concertina, but it is his mastery of the button accordion for which he is most renowned. He served his time as a regular member of the St. Roch's Ceili Band and since the age of 17 has also been a member of the Inishowen Ceili Band.
More recently he has added his talents to Glasgow outfit The Chihuahuas' mix of rockabilly, progressive rock and country music, including on their cover of the Prince song 'Purple Rain'. He was also a member of the band Feolta, who won a Celtic Connections Danny Kyle award at the festival in 2009.
In July he takes his inimitable style of play to the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival which is set in the island of Lewis and will be headlined by Van Morrison, Dougie MacLean, Capercaillie, The Battlefield Band and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
“HebCelt quite rightly has a reputation like no other in terms of festivals”, said Paddy. “It’s on a huge scale but it epitomises the term ‘festival’ in that there are huge marquees and a real festival spirit. It is my first trip to the festival. I've often wanted to go just to experience it, never thinking my first visit would see me playing there. But when HebCelt called there was only going to be one place I was heading to that weekend.”
Festivals are now such a big part of a performer’s year and Paddy already has some great memories: “It’s much harder to feel the feedback from a crowd at a formal sit-down gig than it is when they are up dancing around.
“It’s also amazing to have so many talented artists in such a small area that it often leads to magical moments that you just don’t get elsewhere - like when I was playing at the Wickerman Festival a few years ago with two bands, and the Zutons came up on stage from nowhere and started jamming with us.”
While the Hebridean audience will enjoy Paddy’s accordion playing, they will not get a chance to see his other talents, such as his mixing skills as a Trisco (or Trad Disco) DJ. His set can merge traditional tunes with contemporary music samples and dance beats, putting together unlikely combinations.
“I’ve done loads of Triscos all over Britain and Ireland. My favourite mix is Irish folk/jazz group Beoga fused with Kanye West. It sounds crazy and it is.
“But, as much as I'd love to, I haven’t worked out the co-ordination aspect of playing the accordion and DJ'ing at the same time. Both tasks require 100 per cent concentration to get it right so it’s either one or the other I'm afraid so I'll be sticking to the accordion for HebCelt.”
So what’s next for the man who managed to study for a biology degree while honing his music talents: “I'm just getting used to playing much more. I've started work on an album that will hopefully be ready by the end of the year, and it's really exciting to play to new audiences.
“When I was younger, I just wanted to get a degree and get 'a proper job' hoping - just hoping - that I could play some music. I was always my own harshest critic; as much as I desperately wanted to play music professionally I always doubted whether or not I could make it work.
“I'm taking nothing for granted, but I'm further along the road than I thought I'd be at this stage and the sky is the limit.”
The 18th HebCelt will be held from 17-20 July. The line-up also includes Karine Polwart, Darrell Scott, Pete Roe, and local artists Iain Morrison, The Boy who Trapped the Sun and Face the West, as well as Dundee’s Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward & Fisher; Lau, voted ‘Best Group’ at this year’s Radio Two Folk Awards; Orcadian eight-piece The Chair; The Hot Seats, from Virginia; Manchester outfit The Travelling Band; Welsh band Rusty Shackle; Fatherson and The Dirty Beggars and Donald MacDonald & The Islands, from Glasgow, Rose Parade, a four-piece from Ayr and Gria, winners of this year’s One Step Further competition.
It attracts interest from across the world and was recently selected as one of the Top 10 UK summer festivals by influential music publication Songlines for the third successive year.
Tickets have already been snapped up by fans across the UK and Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
The 18th HebCelt takes place between 17-20 July, 2013 and will have two main stages on the Castle Green in front of the Lews Castle in Stornoway, as well as performances in An Lanntair and throughout the rural community.
This year the festival has been selected for the third year in succession as one of the top ten UK summer festivals by music magazine Songlines. It emerged victorious as Best Large Festival at the industry-sponsored Scottish Event Awards 2011, in a three-way final with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Glasgow’s Celtic Connections.
Visitors from Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the US made the journey to Lewis last year, as well as many from across the UK.
The overseas contingent helped swell the ranks of a 120-strong volunteer army that contributed over 3,500 unpaid man hours over the course of the four days.
HebCelt is supported by Creative Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands & Islands Enterprise and injects more than £1.5 million annually into the local economy.
It is regarded by critics, performers and festival-goers as one of the top Celtic music festivals in Europe and has twice won the Best Event of the Year award at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, which is voted for by the public.
HebCelt has been hailed as one of the UK’s top 50 festivals by the Daily Telegraph and one of the top five by The Scotsman.
The festival has its own YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter outlets.