Local Artistes and Programme Launch

Music lovers across the isles can start marking down the days till the 40th Shetland Folk Festival as organisers have launched the full programme and local artist line-up for the event this spring.

Over 50 local artists join the 18 visiting acts announced last month with the festival expanding to over 30 official events across 4 days. Organisers feel in celebrating the festival’s 40th birthday, the line-up reflects the past while looking forward to the future of Shetland roots music.

Fresh from their exciting debut self-titled EP, fiddle and vocal quartet, Herkja, will perform at Clickimin on the Saturday evening with the formidable Le Vent De Nord, Della Mae, Frigg and JP Cormier + Bill Elliott. Skelburn are making their debut appearance at the Festival and despite all being at school this North Mainland traditional 4-piece has been selected to support Dougie Maclean for a special feature-length concert of his work at Mareel (Saturday evening). Both Dougie and Skelburn will also appear in Mid Yell on the Friday alongside Danish party band, Habadekuk, Stringrays and another local band making a long awaited appearance since their last at the festival – Sheep Dip.

MacLean will appear at Whiteness and Weisdale Hall on Thursday evening alongside another act very much representing festivals past and present - Hom Bru. The local legends will perform for the first time in years joined by fellow decade-spanning Poozies, Della Mae and local string band, Vair (who have a few Hom Bru connections themselves). Indeed, Festival goers will spot a couple of concerts that deliberately showcase local acts with a family connection, helping demonstrate how Shetland’s traditional music scene is in safe hands.

The Shetland Connections concert at Islesburgh on the Saturday evening aims to showcase Shetland’s current talent that local audiences don’t always get to see with Kevin Henderson (Nordic Fiddlers Bloc) on the same bill as local fiddler Ross Couper (joined by multi-instrumentalist Highlander, Hamish Napier for an unplanned, spontaneous set!) They will share the bill with the Stringrays (featuring legendary fiddler, Rodney Miller and maybe a special guest or two), sister duo Astryd & Kaela Jamieson and the ever popular (and somewhat infamous) Steven Robertson. Hamish Napier and Ross Couper have been added to the programme as friends of the Festival, to assist with our community events over the weekend and to help maintain the session vibe in the Festival Club!

A specially themed Nort’ Americana night at Scalloway Hall on the Friday evening will celebrate the influence of music across the Atlantic with local favourites, Kansa and Laeverick joining North American acts, Paper Wings, JP Cormier + Bill Elliott and Della Mae.

A special daytime event on the Friday at Shetland Museum will mark 60 years of Shetland Fiddlers’ Society, while the following afternoon one of the finest local exponents of the instrument, Bryan Gear (with Violet Tulloch) will play at Mareel alongside JP Cormier + Bill Elliott, Stringrays and Shetland’s new Young Fiddler(s) of the Year.

Shetland dialect will feature heavily in an intimate night of Shetland traditional and roots music at The Dowry in Lerwick featuring North Ness Boys, Elsbeth Clark, Barry Nisbet and budding fiddle group, Langstrings. The venue will host other smaller gigs including a night dedicated to showcasing singers, a ‘Chill Oot’ Sunday performance featuring exclusively instrumental sets as well as ‘Fresh Folk’ – a stage for breakthrough performers to the festival.

Speaking about the line-up, the Festival's Local Artist Coordinator, Diane Wood, says the exceptional standard and high musicianship on the isles makes it exciting to programme local acts alongside our visiting performers, even if the high number of applications and inevitable musician crossovers do cause some programming challenges! She said, “When you see the list of local performers and the range of experience and styles represented, it really demonstrates what Shetland music is all about and we received an overwhelming number of local applications this year. We are so grateful for all our local acts who are willing and keen to perform each year. It has kept the festival going to a grand age of 40 and signs are promising for another few decades yet."

“We want to make this festival the biggest and best yet, and local musicians are a key part of that. We are particularly looking forward to showcasing a number of acts with young musicians and witnessing what these local performers can deliver alongside the multinational and talented acts we bring here from all over the world.”

Other local folk favourites such as Haltadans, Arthur Nicholson and Friends, Freda Leask, Adam Guest Band, Sheila Henderson and Fjanna also feature through the weekend while there are many debut appearances including harmony group, Hersel and supergroup, CRAC featuring some of the best-known musicians on the Shetland trad scene.

As usual the standing ‘Spanging Spree’ gig will take place on Friday night at Clickimin with Orkney’s The Chair joining Bristol’s Cut Capers, Irish bluegrass band JigJam and new Scottish trio, Project Smok. Local club late slots will also be performed by party band favourites, First Foot Soldiers, country rockers, Tennessee Wannabees, folk metal with The Revellers and blues from Donald Anderson Band, which features original Festival committee member Rick Nickerson. These local acts will join a wide range of lively visiting bands for late night Festival club programming - the details which remain a closely guarded secret until the night! The Festival is introducing some changes to access to the Festival Club late programming this year, so potential members are encouraged to read the small print about the introduction of guaranteed Club late passes on the Friday and Saturday.

More family events are being laid on this year with the now customary ‘Peerie Spang’ at Mareel on Sunday afternoon featuring South African vocal and dance group, Imbube UK, Jigjam and The Poozies. There will also be a family friendly standing concert on the Thursday evening at Gulberwick Hall with Cut Capers and Habadekuk joining local rockabilly outfit, the Isaac Webb Trio. Meanwhile the Festival Club will also host a livelier afternoon gig targeted at families featuring the Capers and Le Vent De Nord.

Thanks to the additional support of EventScotland (as well as Loganair regional airlines who are supporting the flight costs of Imbube UK), Festival organisers will be delivering more school and community visits than ever before, as well as workshops and sessions in the Festival Club. The return of the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl as a live venue over the weekend (details to be announced at a later date) will be a hugely welcome addition to the programme.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events said, “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Shetland Folk Festival on its 40th anniversary through our National Events Programme. It is great to see such a wide range of acts performing on the isles, which is the perfect stage for this celebration of folk music from across Scotland and around the world.

“Events play a key role in our visitor economy and the Shetland Folk Festival is part of a vibrant portfolio of events taking place across Scotland that bring economic benefits to their local communities.”