A Review of Brew at the Bog held on the 5th of May 2012 at Bogbain Farm. Photos by Frank Finlayson.

They say that we get four seasons in a day in Scotland. Well, we were one short at Brew at the Bog; summer just didn’t make an appearance. It may well have been unseasonably cold, but with equally cold beer in hand, it was the music that gave warmth to the occasion. As with all new festivals, there is a step into uncharted waters for the organisers, and a leap of faith required by the punters. For those that set sail for Bogbain, boy was their trip there rewarded.

Each of the three stages were packed full of new music and up and coming acts. So much so that I tried my damndest to get a glimpse of as many as I could, but unfortunately never a full set. Short stays at each stage were no slight on any act, just me trying to take in as much as I could.

A nod to the local acts first, who were spread out throughout the day on each of the stages. He Slept on 57 opened the proceedings on the Go North stage with a notice of intent, powering through a well versed set. Megan Blyth, meanwhile, was doing her burgeoning reputation no harm in The Bothy. She even brought her own merch guy with her! Little Things Like Kiwis’ mid-afternoon turn appeared to be beset with technical difficulties at the beginning and unfortunately due to my stage hopping I was unable to hear, or comment, further. Graham Brown picked up the baton and continued to showcase his maturing sound. KOBI, in their first local gig of the year, hit a mid-evening main stage slot repaying the faith that organiser Yvonne Murray had placed in them.

Special mention must also go to the Welsh contingent; Bensh, Siôn Russell Jones and Jonathan Powell. Bensh stormed the main stage adding warmth to the cold air and gaining widespread acclaim in the process. Young Siôn may look about twelve, but behind that youthful exterior lies the producer of a number of foot tappingly catchy tunes. Proud Welshman, Jonathan, draped The Red Dragon over the monitors, as he delivered a versatile set both vocally and instrumentally. One of the drawbacks of the close proximity of the stages, you were never more than a few metres from a view of any one of them, was the overspill of sound. It was never that much of a distraction until Jonathan noted that he was going to have a battle on his hands when he turned to his ukulele for a quieter number.

If any act stood out like a sore thumb it was North Carolina’s Woody Pines and his band from a bygone era. They may belong to a different time, but today they were certainly in the right place, and their southern charm seduced the Brewbog audience.

Other highlights? Well it would be unfair to single out any one act, but from my meanderings around the site each stage, there was a lot that turned my ear, over and above the aforementioned. The Bothy was a particular gem of a setting, and not just because it was warm. Ayrshire’s Anna Sweeney and Little Fire gave both a soothingly subtle vocal from Anna, and the smoky voice and passion of the gurning Little Fire. The gurning? It’s the way he sings apparently. The generality of the acts in the Bothy were acoustic in nature, but try telling that to Hello Video. This was an onslaught, with shades of Hawkwind, as they whipped up a storm, barely pausing for breath.

An early slot for Cherri Phosphate, just after the He Slept on 57 boys on the Go North stage, proved no obstacle as they continued to add drive and energy to a set you sat up and took notice of. At the other end of the night were the irrepressible, Stanley Odd. Quickfire Solareye complemented by partner in crime Veronika Electronika to give the stage a send off it richly deserved.

The main stage was an event in its own right. So many names, so little time. It would be just as easy reeling of the acts in order to point out the highlights. Fatherson confirmed why so many are talking about them, and listening too. The first time that I’ve caught Kitty the Lion, and they exceeded all expectations; I’ll certainly be back for a full set sometime soon. Endor were quite simple sublime, and it was pure genius to round off the night with Three Blind Wolves, Findlay Napier and Washington Irving taking us up to the wee small hours.

Also, it wouldn’t have been Brew at the Bog without Brewdog. Cracking beers, and 77 is now a byword for quality lager. The catering was also quality; you don’t get fish and chips that good at any other festival. The Tea Posy gave a warm respite from the cold outside with an expertly positioned caravan with full view of the main stage. Finally, the vision of Yvonne Murray (you can see her interview about the festival here)in putting this event together must be congratulated. Yvonne had said that she was going to enjoy the festival when I spoke to her in the lead up. I had my doubts as so often you see strained faces and fraying nerves in the background, but Yvonne went around the site with a smile on her face all day, clearly enjoying the atmosphere that she played no small part in creating.

At times I suffer the bores who go on about being at the first Belladrum and the like. Worryingly in a few years time I could turn out to be that bore who talks about Brew at the Bog in the same way.

At so many festivals you grasp at finding highlights. Brew at the Bog did the opposite. Quite exceptional.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via frankieboyfin@gmail.com