ROCKNESS is being recycled into a rather smaller scale Highland festival.
Or at least its name is.
The large white "RockNess" letters which stood on the hill overlooking the main stage will be spending this weekend back where they came from at Inshriach House in Aviemore for Speyside’s own Insider Festival where they will be rearranged from "RockNess" to spell "Conkers".
"It’s the only vaguely sporting word we could come up with," explained Walter Micklethwait of Inshriach House.
This year, acknowledging but also gently poking fun at a certain event taking place in London this summer, the Insider has a sporting theme.
"It’s sporting but ridiculous — the sport’s the least important thing," Micklethwait said.
"Basically we are going to do a very small selection of noncompetitive sports and have prizes for nonsense stuff."
The international competitors will be cheered on by their heads of state — and the more notorious the better.
"You can’t be a competing nation without a suitable head of state," Micklethwait added.
"Despots, dictators — I’ve been looking through Olympic history and it’s absolutely scattered with people misappropriating the Games to push their principals, or one country won’t compete because there’s another one there.
"We made it really broad on the sports theme, saying it could be any sport, any nationality, any date, so we decided we should do that with the heads of state and have celebrity heads of state through the ages. I hope we get some contentious ones because they tend to be the more interesting.
"We’ve built a royal box so anyone who does turn up as head of state will get a ringside view."
The sporting theme is also reflected in what Micklelthwait calls the Insider’s "anti-marketing" campaign.
"We’ve been putting up posters, but they’ve got pictures of sportsmen on them, but don’t have anything to do with the music or line up," he said.
"We don’t need to try that hard. If one in three come back and bring someone extra, that’s basically us full."
There is a slight musical overlap with RockNess with Admiral Fallow and Inverness-Edinburgh band Homework appearing at their second Highland festival in the space of a week. Speyside regulars Findlay Napier and The Bar Room Mountaineers, Rachel Sermanni and the Whisky River Boat Band are back along with other Insider regulars like Skye’s Dead Man’s Waltz while fiddler Aidan O’Rourke, who has headlined and curated the Insider with the trio Lau is back to headline Friday night with his other band KAN.
"It’ll be nice to have Session A9 headlining on Sunday because we’ve never managed to get them all together," Micklethwait said.
KAN will be good. We’ve got the Phantom Band headlining on Saturday, which will be good fun, but the thing I’m looking forward to most is the opening ceremony.
"That will be enormous fun because we’ll have something like 60 musicians and a really big, really stupid procession with flags and people playing brass instruments. We’ll have various headliners from previous years popping up to play one tune and then disappearing off again."
Micklethwait agreed that The Insider had become a festival favourite with musicians and there were so many applications to play there that he and his fellow organisers could not hear them all.
"It’s because we have always had this ridiculous split of musicians to members of the public," he said.
"We had 340 musicians here last year and 480 members of the public and most of them were connected with the bands in some way. That’s why a lot of bands say it is their favourite festival of the summer and they get all their mates along because it’s almost like a private party.
"That’s changed slightly this year because we’ve sold a few over 500 tickets at the moment and 300 musicians. We’ve overspent on the bands — again. But it goes with the territory."
•The Insider Festival is at Inshriach House near Aviemore from Friday to Sunday.
Insider Festival Line-Up
Friday 15th June
KAN, Optimo Espacio featuring Den Haan, Organs Of Love, Roddy Woomble, The Mike Kearney Ka-Tet, Remember Remember, Miaoux Miaoux, Kettle Of Kites, The Dirty Beggars, Two Wings, Homework, The Paul Simon Treatment, Gav Prentice, Georgia Gordon, Ashley and the Cosmonauts, Dirty Hearts Club DJs.
Saturday 16th June
The Phantom Band, Stanley Odd, Melting Pot, Three Blind Wolves, Profisee, Adopted As Holograph, The John Langan Band, Little Kicks, Bard, Finlay Wells & Sorren McLean, The Bevvy Sisters, Adam Beattie & the Consultants, The Whisky River Boat Band, Brooke Sharkey, Dr. Mango & the Chickpeas, The Goodtime Family, Alistair Ogilvy, The State Broadcasters, Eric Chenaux, Sarah Hayes, Dead Man’s Waltz, Grandma Sta-Flash and the Furious Grandads, Super Adventure Club, Michael McLennan, Puff Uproar and the Shimmering Sound Affair and The Insider Olympiad Orchestra featuring The Horndog Brass Band and The Hidden Lane Choir.
Sunday 17th June
Session A9, Admiral Fallow, Rachel Sermanni, The Sportsmans Ball featuring: The Loveboat Big Band, The Banjo Lounge 4, The Federation of the Disco Pimp; Meursault, Ross Ainslie & Jarlaith Henderson, This Is The Kit, Laki Mera, Rae Morris, Poppy Ackroyd, Babelfish, Rozi Plain, Miss Irenie Rose, DJ Dolphin Boy, The Ham-Strings, Findlay Napier & The Bar Room Mountaineers, Fèis Spè Junior Ceilidh Band, The Insider Jazz Ensemble and The Admiral Fallow Lawn Takeover featuring Siobhan Wilson, Open Swimmer, Blochestra & some very special guests.