Sunday, 24 June 2018


Solas 2018: Drift

dots-washing.jpgA field in the sun; familiar faces; an eclectic and mind-stretching programming: the ninth Solas Festival.

This year's theme of Drift took in the stories of cultures in migration, and some of the more subtle drifts in language, history and politics, soundtracked by new and emerging bands from around Scotland.

mainstage.jpgThe programme was book-ended by Arabic voices. Shamstep group 47SOUL had everyone out-dancing the midgies on Friday night, and a "learn Palestinian Arabic through the medium of za'atar" session turned out to be a thoughtful introduction to a unique new online learning course, developed by the universities of Gaza and Glasgow, which enables Gaza-based tutors to teach despite the restrictions imposed by the occupation.

Other highlights included:

  • barrow.jpgThe Barrow Band's singing and dancing fruit and veg

  • Professor John Curtis's talk on the Scottish Independence and EU referendums. I came away with the uneasy sense that Scotland might not lean as far to the left as its political representation suggests, leading to the chilling question of what would happen should Scotland gain independence. Would there be any need for the SNP? ("Look at UKIP.") Would a rebranded Conservative party become a dominant political force?

  • Vox Liminis' Distant Voices project bringing songs written by those with first-hand experience of the criminal justice system to a wider audience

molly.jpgIn between, there was the typical mix of the wondrous and sometimes bizarre that we've come to love at Solas. Where else can you turn a corner from the world-class Scottish Opera performers, and run straight into a towering-costumed street performer wielding a chuckling, demonic-looking baby; or enjoy a film about house music in Africa in the company of Molly, the site's horse, whose stable was being used as a cinema?

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