See Reviews for fabulous feedback from tourists and locals on the last round of concerts

Item Posted: Tuesday 1st November, 2005


Just a short email to say what a wonderful concert in Strachur on Saturday evening, we felt very privileged to be able to watch Jamie and his fellow musicians.
It was a truly unique and refreshing experience to watch such a gifted natural performer.
Our son Alasdair took part in the fiddle workshop. He is 13 and was truly mesmerised by the performance at the concert in the evening.
We are originally from Strachur and have family there, but travelled especially from Dumfries and Galloway to see them all.
An unforgettable experience.
Fiona, Duncan and Alasdair MacKinnon, Dumfries and Galloway

I am emailing you to congratulate you on putting together the wonderful show we saw in Strone on Friday night, I hope that it went just as well in Strachur last night!
An Englishman with a long-standing liking for Scottish music, I made the long trek up from Lancashire to Strone near Dunoon to see Donald Black accompanied by Malcolm Jones (of Runrig fame) perform his own brand of - mainly West Highland as part of the 2005 Cowalfest walking and Arts festival.
Donald had a hard act to follow in former USA Scottish Fiddle champion Jamie Laval, accompanied by guitarist Hans York, but such was the brilliance of his performance that the audience was held captivated.David Hambley, Harmonica World

Many congratulations on organising this weekend's splendid events.
I'm writing just to say that the folk in the row behind us came from Mannheim to hear Donald Black -not for the Cowalfest as a whole, or to visit Scotland. I'm sure that they were not the only ones to come to this country only to hear him…Jamie Laval has a rare purity of tone and mastery of the music. His powers of enchantment make him a star..Thank you for a superb concert. David and Evie Campbell

I chatted to a lot of people at your sell-out concert at Strachur. A surprising number were from overseas - including Alaska, Australia, USA, Germany. One lady had come from Denmark, specifically to see and hear Jamie Laval – but decided to stay and do some walking as well.
Everyone I talked to thought that Cowalfest was outstanding, and that having a range of other events such as your traditional music concerts added enormously to their overall enjoyment of the festival. The increased variety of events must be good for tourism and local businesses - as well, of course, as being a great benefit to the local communities. Anne Rendall, Dundee

In my capacity as a Scottish Tourist Guide (as well as being into traditional music myself), I brought along 6 people from USA who had requested a traditional music concert as part of their tour itinerary. I tailored our itinerary that night to stay in Dunoon (therefore using local hotels and facilities) so that we could enjoy the concert in Strone. They really enjoyed the concert and remarked how nice it was and different from the States, as the people were so friendly, it had a 'village' atmosphere compared to a large city concert hall and they had not expected to hear such high class music in a small area. They said it was more than what they had hoped to encounter on their visit here in Scotland and were delighted with the music. This shows that providing music of such a high standard, as part of Cowalfest, or any such other initiatives, will encourage visitors to Scotland into the area, and they will spread the word about the quality and high standards of our concerts. Kathy Cameron, Inverarary

I came all the way from Inverness to celebrate my 60th birthday in the company of friends at this concert in Strachur Memorial Hall. A great venue, a great performance by four world class musicians, and great craic with locals and visitors alike. Who cares if it was raining outside? – inside it was warm and welcoming. I had a very happy birthday indeed!! Keith Scammell, Inverness

I have had quite a bit of positive feedback from those who were there and from those "who heard it was a great night". There is a feeling that any future similar event would be better attended. I would also like to comment on the Artists who performed on the night. All four of the guys were not only talented, thoroughly professional and technically at ease with their instruments but were all genuinely nice folk who were a pleasure to work with. They were very comfortable in engaging with their audience afterwards which is a rare thing nowadays, believe me. Anyway it was a pleasure to be involved, hopefully we can organise another event in this neck of the woods in the future. Ron Simon, Highgate Halls, Strone
Concert was fantastic! I would be really interested in details of not only concerts etc you are holding, but also any info on fiddle workshops. Karen Alexander, Oban

To have easy access to such outstanding musicians, promoting the delights of Scottish traditional music and culture in such stunningly beautiful surroundings has provided the icing on the cake for our move to the wonderful Cowal peninsula. Bill and Val Cassidy, Sandbank

An unforgettable experience. I was given a festival brochure when I stayed (with my family) at Glendaruel campsite in August - the first time I had stopped at Cowal instead of pushing on to Inveraray or Islay. The others weren't able to come back in October, but I decided to try to get across for a weekend, since it is reachable from Dundee. I booked walks for Saturday and Sunday, and the "traditional music concert" for something to fill the evening between. When the time came, I wondered about staying at home, not least because I thought it wouldn't be very enjoyable to go alone. I was so wrong.
Walking along the side of Loch Eck on Saturday afternoon with a lot of really friendly Inverclyde Ramblers, a series of showers either fell on us or passed along the loch to our right, making rainbow after rainbow. Someone said "we had better buy lottery tickets tonight because we'll be lucky after seeing all these rainbows"…
…At the first interval, the older lady next to me asked what I thought, and said that she - from the local area where maybe this type of music is part of everyday life - had "never heard anything like it"…The other memorable thing about the evening was that - despite the professional lineup and the distance that some people had travelled to be there - it was, first and foremost, a local community event. Where else could you find such entertainment for a £7 ticket? Where else would you get a plate of home baking at the interval? Where else would the performance wait for lost property found in the car park to be returned to its owners? And where else would you be able to help put the chairs away afterwards? Maybe this is the special quality that it will be easiest (and most detrimental) to lose as the fame and fortune of the festival grows? It was just perfect this time… Viva Cowalfest and the Fiddle Workshop, and thanks so much for the memory.
Dr Olivia Bragg Geography Department University of Dundee
I thought the concerts were absolutely brilliant! My friend and I came over from Germany just for the concerts in Strone and Strachur as we haven't had the chance before to see Donald and Malcolm in concert and as they had only a few concert dates this year, we decided to spend a long weekend at Cowalfest to finally see them. Jamie Laval and Hans York were an additional treat which I enjoyed very much. Great music! I have to say that I neglected your part of Scotland so far as I am usually heading for the Highlands & Islands and after being there I do regret that quite a bit. I made the mistake of thinking that everything that is so near to Glasgow must be too busy or too urban to be nice......fool that I am. We took part in a guided walk (Arboretum), went to Puck's Glen and drove around the area, so I'm sure I will be back - festival or not. But a few concerts like those last weekend surely improve the temptation.
I'm looking forward to more information about events in Cowal! Silke Weber , Germany
I can speak for all in our party (4) when I say it was brilliant, we thoroughly enjoyed both sets of musicians… The hall was lovely and cosy and all the organisers were so approachable. My husband was leading the bike ride the next morning and did nothing but praise the Friday nights concert to the riders and we know that at least two went out to get tickets that day at the end of the ride. We know they wouldn't be disappointed either. I have since been along to the Argyll Hotel and learnt to do some willow weaving and rag working so am thoroughly enjoying the fest. My mother in law went on two walks on the three days she was here and thought they were brilliant… Sandy and Rob Cooksley

Having been visiting Cowal since before the US Navy left it has been interesting to see how the area has changed and recently there seems to be a real buzz about the place. Next year with the Mod, Cowal Games and Cowalfest it's going to be the place to be !! James P Moncur, Edinburgh

I wanted to say how much my wife Jackie and I enjoyed the concert and we appreciate your efforts in organising same. Both acts were really VERY good.
We are regular attendees at Celtic Connections concerts and doubted if the village concert would come up to that standard but it surpassed our expectations and indeed was much better in many ways as it was primarily a local event
We didn't think you'd be able to match last year’s concert but this year’s was equally good.
It's great to see the village hall packed to capacity with all ages present.
We do welcome the raft of events now taking place in the area which must do a great deal to improve life in the community, indeed some of those on the walks had attended the concert previously and that helped form common bonds.
It does however take a lot of effort usually by a chosen few so thanks to you and your wife obviously and to all the others for all the hard work which went in to it. Regards and good luck with next year's ..Bruce and Jackie Smith, Glasgow

I enjoyed the atmosphere and the sheer pleasure at being able to see such great musicians at work, they complemented each other so well, their talents were unbeatable. I also congratulate everyone who helped to put this venue together - they also put so much into given everyone the chance to enjoy good music. I hope you are given the support you need to continue. I moved up here three years ago and can hardly believe the talent in this area. Joy Handley

My husband and I were up on holiday from Surrey and happened to pick up a
brochure of the Arts part of Cowalfest in Bells. We attended the concert in
the Highgate Hall on Friday and were bowled over. Although expat Scots we
had never been to a traditional music concert before. The standard of the
music was superb. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would come to
another such concert. We come up to Cowal regularly to see our families and
now would plan to be in Strone to coincide with the next Cowalfest.
Rosemary Thomson Esher, Surrey

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening at Strachur. We were on holiday from Southport and this was our first night, what a nice surprise it was to find the music festival on. We also visited Dunoon on Thursday and saw a Harpist and Celloist playing on the seafront, in the open air. We felt that the community spirit during the Strachur night was something we have not witnessed for a number of years and it gave us faith that all people are not tainted by the way society is usually portrayed. Please can you pass on our thanks to all of the local community involved, and we hope to visit for future events Jane & Martin Goodwin, Southport

We were intending spending the night at Inverary, but when we saw the concert
poster at the Loch Fyne "Oyster" place we decided we'd like to go to it.
As for the concert itself - it was superb!! We both really enjoyed it and thought the hospitality was excellent. Please also thank the lady at the Smithy Museum for her help in getting your phone number and for the lovely coffee and goodies at night.
As long as we can stay in the car park we would look forward very much to any future concerts. (I have a neuro muscular problem which limits my walking distance and so the car park was perfect.)
Please keep us informed of future events and thank you and your colleagues for a wonderful homely evening and first class music. Linda More, Drymen

My sister (Alaska) and I (Germany) thoroughly enjoyed your rapturous concert in Strachur. Although it was my first visit to Scotland and I saw unbelievable sights for the first time, your concert was by far the highlight of my trip! Linda Beougher and sister

First of all... thank you so much for the very warm welcome, friendliness and hospitality I received from both you and several people from Strone and Strachur communities….I never expected this 'open arms' attitude from total strangers, but everybody I had some contact with made me feel as a special dear guest and a part of your community. I will never ever forget this, and it will be the most important reason for me to come back to join the festival in the years to come, and in 2007 I will bring my sister, so that she too can experience the lovely Cowal people.
I truly enjoyed the concerts….To see this top professional duo, who are both used to play for thousands of people in the big venues, playing with so much intensity and enthusiasm for a small audience in a small venue, was really something of an experience. To me they gave the impression, that Strone and Strachur were exactly the places they wanted to play on those nights, and I cannot strongly enough recommend everybody to join one of their concerts when possible. It is my hope for Cowal and for your festival, that many other people will get interested in visiting this lovely part of Scotland. I didn't know much about the area before I came here, but that has certainly changed.
It will be hard to find a more welcoming and hospitable place to visit, and the fact that the festival can attract world class musicians like not only Donald Black and Malcolm Jones, but also high quality musicians like Jamie Laval and Hans York, tells its own story about the potential and ability this festival has to get even bigger.
It will be my pleasure to 'spread the word' and to encourage as many people as possible to visit your festival and enjoy the beautiful scenery in Cowal.
I know for sure... not ten wild horses can keep me away, I will be back for more of everything this place has to offer, which is quite a lot, and Cowal with its people now has its own big part of my heart. Karen Elise Tulle Sørensen, Denmark

We thoroughly enjoyed the concert at Strone. Somehow we missed the fact
that there were music workshops during the weekend. We will continue to visit Argyll for events like this if we are notified of them. We will be back and definitely for Cowalfest 2006, hopefully before if you can tempt us. Diane Wilson, Lincolnshire

We … travelled from Glasgow specifically to come and hear the performances. We were most impressed by the very high standard of the musicians, especially the fiddler. Hope you can arrange more like this! We were also delighted by the social aspect - the two intervals with home baking etc. at very reasonable cost and the chance to chat to locals, musicians and all. A most enjoyable evening. Please keep us informed of future events. Willie Wilson & Wilma Craig. Glasgow

Of an audience of 200 in Strachur

11 came from Overseas
13 came from England
41 came from outside Cowal, but live in Scotland

Of these 65, 32 came specifically to Cowal for the festival and /or for the concert

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