Sunday, September 14, 2008

well, my heart is in the Highlands...

This year, there's a bonnie... in the Scottish Highlands:

Northern Lights Benefit Show to aid John Lennon Memorial Garden Blooms in Durness, Scotland

"Love is the flower... you gotta let it grow" ~ John Lennon

The most north westerly village in Britain is to celebrate its links with John Lennon again.

Top Canadian singer Allison Crowe is to headline a concert in Durness, Sutherland, on October 11 - two days after what would have been the ex-Beatle's 68th birthday.

Allison was one of the stars of last year's John Lennon Northern Lights Festival held in Durness - and promoted by Prince Charles' North Highland Tourism - which went on to win the Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards 2007.

Next month's Northern Lights Benefit Show will be in aid of the John Lennon Memorial Garden in Durness - the only permanent memorial to Lennon in Scotland. Lennon holidayed every summer between the ages of 9 and 15 in Durness -
on his cousins' croft.

He also returned with Yoko Ono - and their respective children Julian and Kyoko - in 1969 before suffering a car accident which hospitalised them at Golspie.

Durness, in particular, played a huge part in young Lennon's life - the song In My Life is said to be partly inspired by the village - and the singer even tried to buy the area's estate shortly before his death in 1980. Earlier this year Yoko Ono also praised villagers for their respect to Lennon's memory.

For next month's concert Allison will break off from her European tour and fly from Prague where she will be performing two days earlier.

"John Lennon was an amazing, artistic, peaceful, spirit. He made a huge impact on society. Durness made a huge impact on him and on me too and I am glad to return," said Allison, 26.

"I remember being terrified of the roads, but the beauty of the place managed to take over! The oft summer stomping ground for John Lennon is one of the most gorgeous places I have seen in all my travels.

"The black rocks and the turquoise waters... The wonderful people that live there in the Highlands... And the people I got to meet during the John Lennon Northern Lights fest from all over the world.

"There were performers everywhere and there was such a sense of community throughout the fest. I thought the entire time this is definitely a place I could live without much difficulty! The music and the laughter and the amazing new friends. truly, it's an experience that can't be matched. This year I plan on doing my best to create something new while I am in Durness, in homage to the Northern Lights Festival and
to carry on in that spirit!!!

"I am honoured to be able to help raise monies to upkeep the John Lennon Memorial Garden. It's an important part of the community, to be kept alive and growing along with the memory of John Lennon and the times he had in Durness. I hope we're able to recreate a bit of that magic."

There are hopes that the Northern Lights Festival will be staged next year.

"I'm excited we're able in a way to carry the torch for the fest that's not happening this year, because it's such an amazing experience that I hope it keeps happening for years to come, really," said Allison.

"I think the fact that people come together to celebrate the life of someone who was so devoted to peace and love, is, in a sense, achieving exactly what John set out to do. Keeping his spirit alive through the garden and through the festival is that sense of his presence and purpose living on in all of us. We all shine on."

Mary Mackay, chair of Durness Community Council, said she was delighted that Lennon's links with Durness are again to be celebrated.

"I could not think of anybody more fitting to celebrate John's links with Durness than Allison. She was a knockout last year and put hairs on the back of everybody that heard her," she said.

"We are hoping it will be a great day - and it keeps John's flame alive in a place that he loved very much."

Allison has recently toured across Canada and in the northeastern United States as headliner. Two one-hour television specials have been broadcast across Canada, and her version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is one of the most popular versions of the classic.

"Whether I'm Wrong", an original song of social conscience penned in early 2003, has been featured by the UNESCO-endorsed New Songs for Peace initiative.

Allison will be supported by fellow Canadian vocalist and classical guitarist Billie Woods. Billie's songs are inspired by life in Canada's Pacific northwestern coastal forest, and infused with the warmth and vitality of the sambas, bossa novas and other cultural rhythms of Brazil. Other events are also in the pipeline including a photographic exhibition of the area by Shona McMillan.

Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for under 16s and are available from Loch Croispol Bookshop 01971511777 (where a small fee for credit card bookings will apply) and Mrs Mary Mackay 01971511255.

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