Lindisfarne go back to their roots

The Lindisfarne Story Band will christen the new, state-of-the-art £1million village hall to top this year's Holy Island Festival.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 6:16 am
Ray Laidlaw, founder member and original drummer, and Billy Mitchell, front man for the final eight years, have joined together to tell The Lindisfarne Story.

The group – including Lindisfarne founding drummer Ray Laidlaw and frontman Billy Mitchell – will play the new hall’s first-ever gig on Saturday, June 25.

Although the Tyneside 1970s’ folk-rock outfit took their name from the historic island off the Northumberland coast, they never played there professionally.

But they did rehearse in the old village hall.

Now, 45 years on, the band will perform their smash hit 1971 album Fog on the Tyne at the hall where it was born.

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The group, also comprising Tom Mitchell on guitar and piano, Michael Bailey on bass, Mark Anderson on guitars and Rachael Bailey on violin and accordion, will play the entire Fog on the Tyne album in sequence.

Ray said: “We’ve never forgotten our roots.

“I’ve had friends on Holy Island for 50 years and some of them are still there. Others have been away and returned. That’s the power of Holy Island – it draws you back.

“In the very early days of the group we spent a lot of time there.

“Our most successful album Fog on the Tyne was born on Holy Island and now we are bringing it back home.

“I remember the old village hall fondly and when I was up on the island on holiday recently for my 40th wedding anniversary, I saw the new village hall almost complete and contacted the Holy Island Festival to see if we could be the first band to play there.

“We’re thrilled to be doing it – it’s completing the circle.”

Island businesses, including the Crown and Anchor, the Ship Inn, Pilgrims Café, and Oasis Café, actively support the event. A bespoke festival ale, appropriately called Lady Eleanor, is being created especially for the occasion. Venues will host other musicians from the region too.

Meanwhile, The Unthanks, who won the BBC Radio Two Folk Awards album of the year, will top the festival bill on Sunday night at St Mary’s Church.

David O’Connor, trustee of the Holy Island Village Hall, said: “We are delighted that Lindisfarne will play the first concert at the new hall as part of this year’s Holy Island Festival.

“This is a fulsome and exciting tribute to the island community who have worked hard to rebuild their hall.”

The new Crossman Hall is named after the Crossman family, owners and long-time supporters of the Island. Lady Rose Crossman MBE gifted the land for the hall.