I am music-deprived in Ethiopia. I long for hot summer nights on the lawn at Jacksonville’s Britt Festival. Sure, I can hear regional ethnic Ethiopian music at Dimma restaurant any night of the week. And we have some teacher friends who play in local bands – the rock-n-roll cover band Germaricans; the all-ICS-staff Urban Hyenas; also the Ethiopian-style jazz quartet Jazzmaris that our elementary music teacher Olaf plays with.
But there’s not much in the way of outdoor venues in Addis, nor is there a lot of variety in the musical styles on offer. Let’s face it, Addis Ababa is rarely part of any big-name musical world tour (though maybe Joss Stone will get here eventually).
So we made sure our summer plans included some live outdoor music. We couldn’t get to Orkney in time for the St. Magnus festival, but we managed to work it just right to hit the Hebridean Celtic Festival, or HebCelt for short. It’s a great time to visit Stornoway; the festival brings out the best of Lewis.
HebCelt showcases a wide variety of Celtic-influenced music, from traditional bagpipes, drums and Gaelic songs, to world music, punk, rock, and folk – all with a Celtic flavor. Headline bands this year included Van Morrison, Capercaillie, The Battlefield Band, and Dougie Maclean. Then there were local favorites like Face the West and Karine Polwart. I discovered new favorites of my own, including The Travelling Band and Rose Parade (finally, some new CDs to play in the truck!)
But the highlight of this festival was the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, and the incredible sight of 3,000 young people (and some not-so-young people) screaming and shouting and jumping up and down for… bagpipes. You would have thought it was the Beatles.