We thought it was about time we did a piece on the people and organisations without whom Ceòl Cholasa would not exist, namely our beloved sponsors. So, let’s do just that. Starting with….
Since the very first festival, way back in 2008, Archie MacConnel has provided us with bikes which we give out to the visiting artists. That can be as many as 25 bikes at a time – not an insignificant number. It’s part of the package to entice them here in the first place. It may sound like a small gesture, but the folkies love it. Tales of Colonsay bicycle adventures have passed into legend in the trad world. During their downtime they like nothing better than getting on their bikes and getting out and about, soaking up all our enchanted wee isle has to offer. Not to mention the night time cycles home from the pub sessions. Instruments strapped to backs, swerving from ditch to ditch until finally back in the safety of their cottages. All part of the Ceòl Cholasa experience. And all thanks to Archie!
Another essential part of the festival mix comes courtesy of Colonsay Estate. They loan us 2 of their largest properties to house the artists at a time when they may very well be able to sell them anyway. Without this free accommodation we simply could not run the festival in the way that makes it such a success – all of the artists here for all of the weekend, mixing, mingling and enjoying the craic. That’s what folk love about Ceòl Cholasa. And the artists love the cottages. A wee haven to catch up with old friends, practise tunes and jam the night away. But that’s not all the estate offer…
Not officially part of their sponsorship (but a key component nonetheless), is the service they provide in bar of The Colonsay. Securing a late licence so the sessions can run into the wee sma’ hours. Keeping the throngs of thirsty festival punters sated. And providing excellent grub to keep artists and festival goers well fed throughout the weekend.
THE COLONSAY PANTRY
It’s 10.30pm on the Saturday night behind the sound desk. The last band of the evening are nearing the end of their set. You’ve been on the go and on your feet since 10am. You’re exhausted. You’ve got to get these guys off stage, drum kit and all, and get the ceilidh band up. In a 15 minute window. It’s just not possible! It’s then that Gavin Clark sticks his head around the door and presents you a burger. A juicy Balnahard Beef burger. A burger with cheese, onions and sauce. A burger to lift the spirit and stir the soul. A burger that makes the impossible possible. You get the ceilidh band on with time to spare.
You see, as well as providing excellent fayre on site for paying customers, Gavin and his team from The Pantry keep the artists and the team fed for free. This grub is essential. The team simply could not cope without it. To the artists thrust straight on stage as soon as they arrive off the boat, the sight of one of Gavin’s delicious pies seems almost a hallucination, too good to be true, an oasis in the hunger desert. But true it is and we thank Gavin and his team for it.
Everyone’s favourite Hebridean & Clyde ferry operator is another sponsor we simply couldn’t do with out. There for us since the very first running, CalMac provide us with free tickets for all of our performers. With around 8 bands each year, most with cars stuffed full of instruments, this adds up to a significant saving. Special mention must also go the legendary CalMac n’ Cheese. It never fails to get an onstage mention by at least one artist each year.
COLONSAY BREWERY (AND WILD ISLAND DISTILLERY)
Just what would the festival be like without the guys and gals from Colonsay Brewery? Clear heads, early starts and a good night’s sleep are just some of the pitfalls they help us to avoid. In exchange for a not inconsiderable wad of cash, the Brewery crew get to slave away for hour after hour, keeping all the festival goers in good spirits (literally!). They put in a serious shift trying to recoup their sponsorship cash and in so doing are a key part of what makes this festival a success. Everyone loves their bar upstairs at the hall, packed full of great beer, award winning gin and complete with the sights and sounds of some of the best trad musicians in the country performing in the hall below. A magic wee place.
The newest member of our essential support network (despite being on board for a number of years now), Marine Harvest provide us with what we need the most, namely cold hard cash. Contributions like the one MH provide make the festival sustainable. Without it we simply couldn’t provide you with the best in the business. Instead it would be some sort of Orwellian nightmare, where punters would be forced to listen to Keir Johnston and the Wandering Fingers on continuous loop. Perish the thought. For that reason, and so many others, we must thank Marine Harvest.
For those unaware, MH operate an 8 pen salmon fish farm off the coast of the island and in so doing provide employment and trade to local businesses at a time of the year when trade is hard to come by. And of course, world class salmon.
Much like Marine Harvest, MacLennan Motors don’t provide us with a service, but with a financial contribution. These guys have been involved in Tiree Music Festival from the beginning, so they know what it takes to run a festival. When not supporting your favourite wee festival, MacLennan Motors can be found running the island’s freight service, providing the vital link for foodstuffs, mail and everything in-between.