Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that my second book Through the Glass was released on August 30th. This past year has been crazy to put it mildly. Last time we attended Jocktoberfest I was in the process of submitting the manuscript for Bridge Over the Atlantic. To think that my second book is now out there too just boggles my mind in the best possible way!
Anyway, this past weekend saw me taking a break from writing and heading off to the stunning Black Isle near Inverness where the Black Isle Brewery hold their annual music and beer festival. Last year’s event was superb and so it was with excited anticipation that we pitched our tent and waited for the fun to begin! (Slideshow at the bottom of the post).
For those of you who haven’t attended Jocktoberfest before (firstly, ask yourself why not!) here is a little bit of info…
The festival takes place on the working farm where the Black Isle Brewery was originally set up. The organic beer comes in a variety of styles to delight every palate (My fave is Blonde). It’s truly delicious and we had our very first taste when we were on holiday in the area a few years ago. Now it’s a favourite tipple! Since moving to Scotland it’s been wonderful to see the brewery expanding and going from strength the strength.
The festival is a fantastic opportunity to sample the products and hear some of the amazing talent that’s out there. Last year, thanks to Jocktoberfest we discovered The Lafontaines, Washington Irving, Esperi and The Whiskeys. We’ve made a point of following them ever since (not in a crazed stalkery way I hasten to add!) 😀
The theme this year was 1940’s Land Girls and it was fun to see so many people getting into the spirit of things. Some of the costumes were very authentic and I regretted not doing the fancy dress thing myself. This year we weren’t overly familiar with any of the booked acts and so thanks to our passion for music we were intrigued as to what new talent we would hear. We were not disappointed! The fun began as soon as we were pitched and organised. Down at the venue the beer was flowing and the smell of delicious locally sourced foods greeted us. And so, armed with a pint of Blonde for me and Yellowhammer for Hubs we settled in to listen to the talent on offer.
Friday night was f-f-freezing cold and we laid awake for a while listening to some of the comical conversations going on as people returned to their tents in the wee small hours. There was one random one that consisted of the line, “Your tent is to the right, mine is to the left but it’s Saturday tomorrow.” It obviously made sense to someone if not us! Then at around two in the morning someone ran past our tent shouting, “Let’s get naked!” Considering how cold it was I’m pretty sure there were no takers! Although, we didn’t venture outside to check!
Saturday morning was bright and sunny and so we ate bacon butties outside the tent and looked over the play list for the day. Once we were fueled we set off down to the main venue a short walk away. We didn’t catch every act but we did manage to see most of them. The first act we saw was Ashley & The Cosmonauts. The lead singer had an excellent voice and the original songs they performed were great. The lead singer and guitarist harmonsied really well and they were a group of talented musicians that’s for sure.
Following this we sat in one of the barns that had been turned into the acoustic stage and listened to Steve Eaglesham. What a thoroughly nice bloke he was. Easy listening original tunes accompanied by acoustic guitar. Later we caught the talents of Willie & Tabs Macaskil and boy these guys were good! The emotion they put into their performance was shiver inducing and they were a pleasure to listen to.
After these we also watched Sara Bills & The Hasbeens (great music to jig around to and they clearly have a following of adoring fans), Josephines Sillars (a talented young keyboard player and songwriter), Be Like Pablo (these were great fun and we enjoyed dancing along with their very catchy tunes).
Saffron (a young lady with such a beautiful voice. She sang a capella, in Gaelic and I have to admit to having tears in my eyes during some of her songs I was so moved), Cairn String Quartet (I love classical music but this was a classical twist on modern tunes which we really enjoyed!) Andy Duncan & Fergus Weir (their own unique covers of well known songs had us singing along. Both men had superb voices)
But the absolute highlight of our weekend was a band we had never heard before. Woodenbox were beyond superb! Wowsers we couldn’t stand still! Such an eclectic mix of original music with its rocky guitars, crazily talented drummer, fantastic brass section and a front man who looked right at home on the stage. The group had a stand in bass player in the guise of Ryan English (Washington Irving) as their own bassist had broken his collarbone (poor guy – we wish him a speedy recovery) But the band were so polished that we would never realised this (had we not recognised the bassist from one of our fave Scottish bands!) So once again, the organisers of Jocktoberfest did us proud and introduced us to some brilliant new music.
The conversations going on outside the tent on Saturday night were just as random and giggle inducing (including one between us and a passerby about the fact that there was so much funk going on it couldn’t be contained in a trunk! But it was okay because I had a large bag of crisps…Hmmm.) But the cold must have put people off staying outside too long as it quietened down fairly quickly after Hoodja did their thing (which included an interesting rendition of Blurred Lines!).
The atmosphere was superb and it was lovely to see so many smiling faces. Even though the alcohol was flowing nicely there was no trouble. Everyone was friendly and the whole thing was lighthearted. There was a group of men on a stag do – or marriage bootcamp as was indicated by their T-shirts! They were dressed in army gear (all apart from the groom who was dressed as a woman!) and they looked like they were having a whale of a time. We wish the groom well in his marriage and hope he had a stag do to remember.
On the matter of the camping facilities, the site, food, etc. This year was organised to a T. The layout of the camping area and parking was a massive improvement on last year (and we thought last year was good!) The toilet facilities were great and it was good to see that people’s comments had really been taken on board. The selection of food was excellent; something for every taste (although the churros were a little bit too good! The diet starts again now.)
All in all this was a fantastic weekend of fun, excellent music, delicious beer and laughs. We will be recommending the festival to everyone we know! See below for a few snaps.