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John O'Groat Journal  and Caithness Courier


Published:  10 September, 2008

DURNESS is to stage a follow-up to last year's successful inaugural festival commemorating the village's links with John Lennon.

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

Proceeds from the event are to go towards the upkeep of the garden planted in his memory at the front of the village hall.

Allison Crowe was one of the stars of last year's award-winning John Lennon Northern Lights Festival, which was promoted by Prince Charles's North Highland Tourism.

Lennon holidayed every summer between the ages of nine and 15 in Durness on his cousin's 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.

The area had a significant place in young Lennon's life with his hit song "In My Life" said to be partly inspired by his visits there.

Before last year's festival, it emerged the singer had tried to buy Durness Estate shortly before his death in 1980. Earlier this year, Yoko Ono praised villagers for their respect to Lennon's memory.

Twenty-seven-year-old Allison Crowe is breaking off from her European tour and flying from Prague to perform at next month's concert. She said yesterday: "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."

She said she had a ball at last year's event, which attracted over 1000 revellers from throughout the UK and abroad.

"There were performers everywhere and there was such a sense of community throughout the festival. It was an experience that can't be matched. I am honoured to be able to help raise monies to upkeep the 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."

Mary Mackay, chairwoman of Durness Community Council, said she is delighted that Lennon's links with Durness were again be celebrated.

She said: "I could not think of anybody more fitting to celebrate John's links with Durness than Allison. She was a knockout last year. 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 Crowe has toured widely in north America and has had two one-hour television specials broadcast across Canada.

"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. She is being supported by fellow Canadian vocalist and classical guitarist Billie Woods.

Other support events in the pipeline include a photographic exhibition of the area by Shona McMillan. Tickets are available from Loch Croispol Bookshop on 01971511777 and from Mary Mackay on 01971511255.



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