Mark Forbes reviews the first day of Belladrum 2018 giving his first impressions on the festivals.

Car packed family ready tickets ready all go for Bella! As we arrive on site it’s the same as normal rigmarole of waiting in queues to get that all important wrist band from this point on it’s the all out for your own race to get that perfect pitch for the tent. Not too far from the car park and no too far from the arena on the only flat spot, whilst you erect the tent you feel like you are the person raising the flag on the moon thinking we made it!

On first glances as the ants roll in in the distance to build there colony, the campsite seems the same layout as last year, 

As for the main arena there’s a few changes The Seedling Stage has a new position down the hill besides the hot house stage and where the the seedling stage there is the Otherland which I haven’t quite worked out yet, there will be a exploration for tomorrow!

The Walled Garden has a Bollydrum stage where you will see some Bhangra Dj’s and Dhol Drum players and The Grass Roots stage has also had a move with the Venus flytrap Tent virtually just a swap! 

The Vip area has moved down to the dwelled wood passed the Icehouse Stage and the Trailer Trash Stage! Looks like some funky stuff going on in there with the oversized deck chairs! As for the rest is much and such the same!

As I walked round the arena it’s self as it had just opened it felt that it was at peace before the storm commenced as it the started to fill up quickly. After a wee wander I made it to T Potting Shed Stage and The Medicine Moose Stage was to find the folk trio Kinnaber Junction with the modern folk songs and did a nice cover of a Gretchen Peters song, to which I missed the name! This was a great start as people were lounging about soaking up the sun and the atmosphere,

As for the next slot on the stage Rebecca Dunn the local lass complimented up this very chilled out vibe with her sweet tone alongside her ukulele brining in the crowd with some audience participation with soothing ooohs!

Thus leading for a wee break and something to eat where the choose is endless! 

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The next step was to return to the potting shed to catch Calum Mackenzie Jones. Which is fair to say Calum was a fair crowd puller where he san songs from his album waisted days likes of the name sake song of the album, Calum also played an encore which is not a common thing which stages having pretty tight schedules. After I got a we chat with Calum;

How did you feel after your fist set at Belladrum?

It was as good that was my first ever encore  it was a good one and wasn’t expecting so many people turned there was a big crowd up so I was pretty chuffed with that.”

Where are you playing the rest of the weekend?

“2300 on the Free Range Folk Stage where were playing the last ceilidh which will be great fun which will end the day on a high and I have a little acoustic slot at the Tomatin Bothy on the Saturday!”

Who would you recommend seeing this weekend?

“Miracle Glass Company defiantly!  they are phenomenal, Hunter and the Bear now are also phenomenal, acoustic wise Sam Cain, Donald and Peggie Barker.”

Where can folks find your music? 

“On all the usual formats if you want a hard copy just give me a message on Facebook and you will find me on all social media under Calum Jones Music.”

Cheers Calum and enjoy the rest of your Belladrum 

I thought I would take a meander to The Trailer Trash Stage where I caught some of the set by Davy Robb Band which had a soft country rock feel which brought a nice wee crowd, with the particular son catching my ear and getting the folks going sing a home song “from East Kilbride”,

Next up were Aye to Aye it’s country band is dynamic in a way that each member taking a song showcases a different country genre, Elizabeth sang a nice rendition of ‘Thorn in your Side!’ Also ‘Man in Love’ had the audience feet tapping! Robin singing a soggy bottom song where you could imagine the old work lines singing along!

This stage has a bit of potential to give as the stage its self is quite small and full of equipment you end up watching speaker instead of seeing the bands, fantastic looking bar/stage. It looks like an old saloon! 

All on all it has been a pretty good day and a great start for me looking forward to Friday at Bella!

WHAT HAVE YOU MISSED? All our other Belladrum 2018 interviews, reviews and photographs can be found here. Please also check out our friends at MNPR for their perspective on Belladrum 2018

Headliner Amy Macdonald took to the stage on Thursday, have a look here.