A different perspective of Belladrum 23, from Rob Polson.
The trip to Belladrum was achieved this year though it was severely truncated due to the ongoing effects of Lyme Disease. The moral of the story – if you get a tick bit ensure you remove the tick and if a red rash appears around the bite mark – get to your GP ASAP, if not the consequences could be severe. For more information see – https://lymediseaseuk.com/
On Friday after a shaky start we got to the festival relatively early which gave us the chance for a look around and to get organised. A big change was the expansion of the Hot House Arena to become the main festival site – taking over from the Garden Stage. This was a sensible move given the crush in the Garden Stage area during the performance by Lewis Capaldi in 2019.
Dorec-A-Belle were giving a competent performance on the Garden Stage – and it was unusual to here male vocals from this previously all female voiced group. Spyres were giving it laldy on the Hot House Main Stage. This was followed by an interesting set from the Glasgow based reggae band Riddemption. This group have a good grasp of the genre and had shades of former Belladrum performer the late Lee Scratch Perry coming through in some of their work.
Walking back to the food area – why was the food so expensive this year? – we listened to a wee bit of a talk by Phillip Paris on the Last Witch of Scotland in the Verb Garden. Then it was on to the Grass Roots stage where Howlin’ Ric & the Rocketeers were giving a vigorous display of their mix of rock and roll and rhythm and blues. Despite a really early start to get up to the festival from their base in Leeds they gave a fine performance. They were followed by local lass Rachel Sermanni who gave a very atmospheric acoustic set of haunting songs with stunning imagery.
And so to bed.
Despite the forecast Saturday turned out to be a really good day. This gave us the chance to take in some of the music down at the Free Range Stage – which always has some high class acts, and the Bella Bar Stage – again a source of some really good sounds.
The plan for today was to minimise fatigue and move around as little as possible so we took up residence at the Ice House Stage which specialises in jazz and blues. Here Scratch ‘N’ Brass were putting out some fun New Orleans sounding material. They were followed by a very mellow, easy listening set by Moray Jazz Club. Next up was an acoustic blues set by Edinburgh based Derek Smith on guitar with Jim Harcus on harmonica and Isaac Sutherland on guitar. A wide range of blues classics were covered during the performance.
By this time the Lyme was beginning to make its presence felt – in addition to the tiredness, double vision and a sore head were setting in – sure signs I was pushing things. So my 2023 Belladrum drew to an abrupt close. On the plus side I made it for two days and I look forward to 2024.
In closing a big thanks to the organisers for hosting us and thanks to all the tremendous acts and the huge range of folks who make the festival happen – lights, sound crews, and all the cleaning, administrative and other staff.