Niall Iain Macdonald was recently announced as co-presenter of BBC Alba’s cover of Belladrum 2011. Former Radio Personality of the Year at the Celtic Film and Television Festival is genuinely one of the most lovely people you will meet, ever. We were lucky enough (and yes this is becoming a trend of invernessGiGs) to catch up with Niall Iain and talk Belladrum
How does it feel to be co-presenting Belladrum for BBC Alba?
I am really excited about co-hosting the coverage of the Belladrum Festival for BBC Alba this year with Fiona Mackenzie. I have been to every Bella apart from one and it’s has to be one of the best festivals around. This year’s will be a different experience for me of course as I will be “working” but I can’t wait to get in front of the camera and hopefully give the viewers a taste of the atmosphere. I have a feeling that the Pimms Tent will miss me though as I have been a regular there during past festivals, they better save me a jug for when we come off air on Saturday night!!! The programme will be going out live between 10.00pm – 12.00am on Friday and Saturday night.
What should we be expecting from the BBC Alba cover this year?
It’s going to be a real challenge to convey the unique atmosphere of the festival through the TV but I hope that we can manage that with the choice of bands that we choose to broadcast and the people we meet. I really feel that the Belladrum crowd are as important as the bands and I am really looking forward to getting in amongst them to find the characters who add so much to the weekend. Also, we hope to feature less well known acts, bands that probably wouldn’t get TV exposure anywhere else. I think that this festival, more than any, is an important place for discovering new music and we will do our best to show this in the programmes. There will, of course, be interviews and some special acoustic sets as well…..and hopefully not too many “squeaky bum” moments!
What acts are you most looking forward to this year and are there any hidden gems you would recommend?
I am really looking forward to seeing Nathaniel Rateliff again. I first saw him live in Stornoway earlier this year and I am so glad that he is heading to Bella. Others on my list of acts I hope to sneak away and see are The Phantom Band, Endor and Unicorn Kid. I’d recommend that people try and see CW Stoneking if they can. I stumbled across him at the End Of The Road Festival last year and he was fantastic……well worth checking out. Of course, it’s going to be great to end the nights with Texas and Deacon Blue. Everyone usually comes together at the main stage and it should be quite a sing-a-long!
We have seen you at a few Bellas, what’s been your favourite Bella experience?
I have many great memories from Belladrum over the years, and many more that I can’t remember! I have quite a few friends playing in bands that have performed there, like Our Small Capital, Crash My Model Car and Calamateur, and it’s always nice to see them up on stage. I’ll always remember 2007 though when James played the Garden Stage in the pouring rain! I was massive James fan in the early 90s but had never seen them live…they were superb that night and the rain just added to the atmosphere. Everyone was singing and dancing with each other, whether they knew them or not…a wonderful night.
The other memory which stands out is being in one of the marquees after the main stage had finished. They were showing ‘The Sound Of Music’ on a big screen and everyone was singing along, word for word. I saw a few guys from Stornoway in there giving it laldy, I better not name names though!!
Can you tell us how NY2SY 2012 is going and what people can do to support it?
My ‘NY2SY: Solo North Atlantic Row 2012’ is going well but there is still so much to do. At the moment, I am trying to secure sponsorship to fund the actual project and that is a challenge in itself! As well as all the organising, there is a lot of training to be done as well. I have been going out in my boat whenever I can and have just returned a 30hr trip to Harris. It’s all about getting experience of being in the boat and also getting some callouses….on my hands and other places too! I’ll no doubt be dropping NY2SY into a few conversations at Belladrum and if people want more info about the project, or wish to donate to my chosen charity the Scottish Association for Mental Health, then they should check out my website: www.ny2sy.co.uk
I also better not forget to give the BBC website a plug as there will be plenty there worth having a look at too from Belladrum: www.bbc.co.uk/alba
Thanks once again to Niall Iain for his time, and check out the NY2SY website.