Kevin Henderson

Kevin Henderson

Now residing in Norway, Kevin Henderson is a fiddler who draws on the rich fiddle music tradition of his native Shetland and his experience with leading bands including Boys of the Lough, Fiddlers Bid, Session A9 and Nordic Fiddlers Bloc to create an expressive and adventurously individual musical style. Kevin will be back for the 40th to assist Ross Couper and Hamish Napier help us deliver a packed programme of music in the Festival Club - but Kevin will also make multiple appearances across the weekend to perform his tune that was commissioned for the 40th Festival.......and that still needs a name!

Brought up in the Shetland schooling system, whose concentration on fiddle music and encouragement to participate still inspire him, Kevin benefited in his teens from the teaching of the legendary Willie Hunter. Lessons with Hunter could comprise chatting over coffee and biscuits and even extend to being taught survival skills, as well as learning both the essentials and the finer points of playing Shetland reels, and every Saturday Kevin came away motivated to emulate his mentor.

With school friends Chris Stout, Andrew Gifford and Maurice Henderson, Kevin formed Fiddlers Bid, a band that – almost thirty years, innumerable gigs and four enthusiastically received albums on – continues to represent the finest of Shetland fiddling allied with harmonic invention, creative subtlety and enthusiastic vigour.  

It was Kevin’s clear understanding of and feeling for the Shetland tradition that led to him being invited, in 2001, to join the long-established Irish-Scottish band Boys of the Lough, alongside the Irish national treasure Cathal McConnell, an experience that has enriched his musical appreciation and love for a strong melody.

Since moving to Norway, while maintaining links with the Boys, the Bid and Session A9, one of Scotland’s finest fiddle ensembles, Kevin has put his heart and soul into Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, a meeting of three very distinctive musical styles where simplicity and directness are key. Their blend of Norwegian, Swedish and Shetland accents and their command of varying tones and voicings have led to ecstatic receptions on both sides of the North Sea and across the Atlantic.

While he still values the demanding Scott Skinner and Canadian tunes he studied in his early years, Kevin has come to favour sparer melodic forms and is increasingly interested in the spontaneity of jazz and improvised music. His duos with Swedish guitarist and mandola player Mattias Perez, who featured on Kevin’s first solo album, Fin Da Laand Ageen, in 2011, and American pianist Neil Pearlman feature more spontaneous interpretations of original compositions and traditional tunes.

When not touring, performing and recording Kevin enjoys passing on his fiddle skills through fiddle camps, including those organised by Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Danish fiddler Harald Haugaard and California-based Scottish fiddle master Alasdair Fraser, and one-to-one sessions. 

Wherever he travels, Kevin remains very much a Shetlander, staying connected to the islands through playing an instrument made by Shetland’s leading luthier, Ewen Thomson.