Eddi Reader is on stage, all flying hands, that incredible voice, fey, singing purely in the moment. I'm standing stage left, behind the biggest most advanced mixing desk I've ever seen (and that's just the foldback). All this stuff was on the back of a truck less than 10 hours ago. It's been a non-stop first day, from an empty theatre to setting up 2 stages (one that seats 500 in the theatre proper, another smaller stage for the open mic sessions and some smaller gigs (still a set up larger than the average Sunas rig), a vast merchandising table (Dougie has a lot of stuff to sell) and even a small pub in one of the back halls for the neverending session. It's an odd feeling standing here. I could hear a lot better out the front, but there's something about being back stage, watching Eddi and her band and seeing the rapt expressions on the audience's faces. She really does spin magic when she sings. It's breathtaking, kooky, almost difficult to watch except for the little voice in your head that tells you not to turn away, you're watching something rare.
The past couple of days we've been down at Butterstone, preparing merch, sorting instruments, drinking tea and generally weaving our way around the chaos that is the MacLean house. I'm not sure that I've actually explained wee part of us being here. Dougie invited us over to perform, but then sometime later Jenny floated the idea of us joining the small volunteer crew. We jumped at the idea because it means we get to see the runnings of a festival from start to finish and it has the brilliant bonus of having two weeks’ accommodation in a five star lodge in Scotland and getting to hang with the most amazing people. The Festival support staff run to about fourteen I think, and most of us are either family, friends or other performers. The depth and breadth to this is just staggering -it runs for 10 days, with concerts every night, workshops and smaller gigs during the day, a session bar, and that’s just the stuff people see. What you don’t is the staggering amount of technology powering this. The entire festival is being streamed online, and pretty much everything else is available on demand. There are high-definition video cameras in the auditorium, portable handy-cams roaming around, all feeding into a control centre where it is cut together on a barrage of iMacs then sent out into the ether. Dougie’s son Jamie is the mastermind of it all, and so far it’s working incredibly. The stream quality is just amazing (depending on your own access though I guess). Then there are a few digital cameras floating around (including myself) and Ian on the proper photography. A lot of the shots are quickly editing then uploaded to the huge plasma screen in the main foyer -sometimes before the acts being photographed have even finished playing. This all adds the the great sense of immediacy and likeness of the show. Jenny and Julia (Dougie’s daughter) pretty much run the front of house, with Jamie and the incredible soundcrew running the tech. Of course this is in addition to Dougie himself, who is always hurrying around, still one of the most enthusiastic and boyish people I’ve ever met (and someone who has no problems getting on the two-way radio system to announce he’s lost his cigarettes).
The blogs might slow down a little over the next few days, because we no longer have broadband connection where we’re staying, so I have to write them nestled in a corner of the theatre. The hardest this is there’s just so much to tell!
Tomorrow sees us play our first gig, just a wee thing, but it’ll be fun and I’m pretty sure it’ll be live to radio. I think we’re recording some video for the web too, outside on the banks of the churning River Tay, so check at the website address below if you’re interested in streaming.
Right, back to Eddi Reader for me.