Tenth birthday Battlefield

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IN 2003, a music festival made its debut in a small Tweeddale town.

It is fitting then, after 10 action-packed August weekends which have attracted some of Britain’s finest folk musicians, that one of the groups who opened Innerleithen Music Festival’s first ever concert return for its 10th anniversary.

The Battlefield Band’s appearance could not be more timely, with the ever-changing line-up picking up a Scots Trad Music Award for Folk Band of the Year at the end of 2011.

Scottish folk hero Dougie MacLean also returns to Innerleithen for the festival which runs from August 17 to 19. He is supported by promising act Manran,

Pam Fraser, chair of Innerleithen’s organising committee, said: “The Battlefield Band headlined the very first concert of our festival back in 2003, so we had little hesitation in inviting them back for the 10th, while the Manran and Dougie MacLean concert is also going to be cracking.”

The Battlefield Band have been an ever evolving bedrock of traditional music and talent for more than 40 years.

Currently included in their lineup is young multi-instrumentalist Ewen Henderson, described as an outstanding talent schooled by some of the masters of the genre who has quickly established himself in the band.

The quartet’s popularity continues not just in Scotland, but across the world – they are in Australia for a month’s tour.

It is 33 years since a homesick Dougie MacLean penned Caledonia while sitting on a beach in the French region of Brittany.

While some writers grow resentful of a song that has defined their careers – for instance the late Kurt Cobain was known to dislike the commercial success of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit – Dougie says Caledonia now belongs to Scotland rather than him.

But the former Tannahill Weavers and Silly Wizard member has achieved plenty more in his career and runs his own music festival – the Perthshire Amber – with his family.

He recently received two prestigious Tartan Clef awards, a place in the Scottish Music Hall of Fame and an OBE in the New Year Honours list.

Exciting young six piece Manran, from the Highlands, are also award winners, having picked up Album of the Year at last year’s Trad Music Awards.

Others to perform over the weekend, will be the Wrigley Sisters from Orkney, who are known as much for their on stage persona as their music.

The festival always closes on the Sunday evening on a mellow note with a concert featuring bands and solo acts who put traditional song to the fore.

The Innerleithen-based Fisher Lassies will be appearing and the concert is headlined by the Barbara Dymock Band, which produce a blend of Barbara’s powerful voice and sensitive accompaniment.

Pam Fraser told TheSouthern: “Other events are in the pipeline showcasing local bands, and we are also putting the finishing touches on a special show featuring the great ballad tradition of the Scottish Borders and Sir Walter Scott’s invaluable role in recording it for posterity.

“This will involve local singers and researchers from the renowned School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University.”

Tickets are on sale from tomorrow at Scotlight in Innerleithen, the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles, or at the festival website www.innerleithenmusicfestival.org. More information is available from the website or by calling 01721 729949.