July has been a cracking month for Mànran! We kicked off the month at Folk am Neckar, a beautifully located festival set in an amphitheatrical grounds of a church in Baden area of Germany. We spent a couple of nights there in glorious weather listening to some nice music, having a few tunes here and there, sampling the local produce, and getting a wee taste of home from our pals at "The Angel's Share", a German Whisky Shop whom we've had the pleasure of meeting at a couple of gigs.
Next up was the more familiar territory of HebCelt in the Isle of Lewis. This was the island festival's twentieth anniversary and they really went all-out with a fantastic line-up and, as ever, a really well-run festival. We were lucky enough to hang about for a couple of days and catch a bit of music and get caught up in the buzz and always seems to be around Stornoway on HebCelt weekend.
Then it was on to the Tiree Music Festival. Word had already reached us in Lewis that the weather had taken a turn for the apocalyptic on the Friday of the festival and there were serious doubts cast over the rest of the weekend's programme. Nevertheless, we hopped on the plane to the "Hawai'i of the North" and were delighted to find that the gales (but thankfully not the Gaels!) had quietened down. On arrival, we were regaled with tales of monsoon conditions the day before but what really struck us was the incredible response of the festival organisers and the local community. That an island of 600 managed to find shelter 1600 festival goers is quite phenomenal! With this resilient spirit of survival now well-engrained, all the revellers set about making the most of the next two days. And, by cracky, they did! We had a superb couple of gigs on the Saturday and Sunday and we hope it's not too long till we're back.
Our next adventure took us to Galicia (in North Western Spain) and Portugal. This was our first ever performance in both places but with the strong Celtic culture of Galicia and, in particular, their love of bagpipes, we had a feeling we might be onto a winner. We played at an enormous outdoor festival on the edge of a forest but what was visible from the stage was only half the extent of the festivities. Under the cover of the trees lay hundreds of little huts and bothies that had been thrown into place by the locals for the weekend and they were a hive of revelry, music and feasting. Some of the band ended up well ensconced in one particularly lively spot and ended up playing tunes till only the thick cover of the trees could add any credibility to the pretence of the night still being on us! A trip South into Portugal followed and we were once again treated to a fantastic festival crowd in the beautiful town of Ponte de Barca.
The month ended much as it started with another great German adventure, this time performing at the Loreley Celtic Night. This was probably the most dramatic setting for a festival yet, situated as it was on a huge amphitheatre perched among the various castles and palaces towering over the Rhine.
Right, August: you've got a hard act to follow!