The Shetland Times » The Shetland Times Shetland News, Sport, Jobs, Properties, Shop Sun, 03 May 2015 17:20:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mareel on fire with epic lineup Sun, 03 May 2015 17:20:21 +0000 Last night’s Spangin Spree at Mareel lived up to its name onstage and on the dancefloor.

Four full-on acts that produced some of the liveliest music at this, the 35th Shetland Folk Festival, took the stage. As in the previous night’s performance at Mareel, any one of the acts could have been the headliners, but it is a measure of how far their stock has risen that the special slot was reserved for Shetland’s very own The Revellers.

The Mareel auditorium was decked out in bows of old fashioned looking lights which gave the hall a somewhat old-timey but cheerful look when the main lights were off, and the sound, as ever, was excellent. But once more the arts centre foyer played host to the tail end of half-hour long queues for the bars – a second bar having been opened below the stairs for the event. It is a perennial problem Mareel has yet to solve, but one that led to exasperation bordering on fury for many a paying punter.

The night opened with a truly excellent performance from the Irish “alt-folk” act Tupelo, who produced some wonderfully charming sounds despite their normal line-up being reduced by one to a three-piece.

Fronted by the charismatic James Cramer on lead vocals, banjo and guitar, the Dublin outfit struck an immediate rapport with the crowd. By the time they closed with the powerful and moving I’m an Irishman, the mesmerised crowd were eating out of their hands.

Next up were the exuberant Finnish folk rock lineup the Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band. Led by innovative fiddler and composer Esko Järvelä the band immediately got into high-gear, with the instrumentalists boogying and gurning like a group of heavy metal monkeys.

The Epic Male’s music is packed with energy and complexity as well as musical virtuosity. Their performance was reminiscent of Jethro Tull, which led one observer to comment the music was very much of mid-70s style – the wheel comes round again.

Although the media has likened their sound to a collision of the aforementioned Tull, Bon Jovi, Jimi Hendrix, Lau and Led Zeppelin, the band itself likes to talk simply about Progressive Hard Folk. At any rate, the band got an epic cheer from the exultant crowd at the conclusion of their set.

Tull could also be namechecked as a formative influence for the Bristol based five-piece Sheelanagig, whose description in the Folk Festival literature is that they “deliver intricate, rhythmically complex arrangements of original and traditional works in a Balkan style.”

If it was unlikely anything could top the frenetic activity of the Finns, Sheelanagig probably succeeded in the unlikely. At times the punter was left wondering if they were witnessing a musical gig or an acrobatic performance. This ambiguity did not impress everyone in the audience, it has to be said, but there was no questioning the exhilarating intensity of Sheelanagig’s performance.

Finally, the band many in the audience had been waiting for took the stage. The mighty seven-piece, The Revellers, now with Magnus Bradley on vocals, cut into a set laced with compositions off their first album Renegades plus their “radio hit” The Waves Are Free.

Judging by the crowd response, The Revellers and their folk/rock energy had succeeded again. And so the night ended, at least the Mareel part of it. Many punters were headed to the Folk Festival Club at Islesburgh, or elsewhere, to continue their partying.

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Mesmerising stuff in Burra Hall Sun, 03 May 2015 16:54:20 +0000 Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all something else comes along to blow you away.

On Saturday in the Burra Hall it was Troy MacGillivray and Shane Cook who left the crowd mesmerised.

Troy MacGillivray, Shane Cook and Jake Charron in the Burra Hall.

Troy MacGillivray, Shane Cook and Jake Charron in the Burra Hall.

The two Canadians, accompanied by Jake Charron on piano and guitar, are supremely talented and it was great to see them enjoying the performance as much as those of us who were fortunate enough to be in the audience.

Their first flawless set lasted fully 10 minutes and left this reviewer hoping that it would not end. It was incredible but despite its energy, that was just the warm-up. “I hope you like jigs,” joked Cook, before launching into another belter of a set.

If that wasn’t enough there was time for a quick change of instruments, MacGillivray moving onto the keyboard leaving Cook as the sole fiddler – his legs jumping up and down like an out of control puppet’s. And to top it all a guitar solo from Charron.

Temporarily the tunes slowed a little with Revival of the Fiddlest after which MacGillivray looked around for a clock asking if anyone was keeping an eye on the time. “No,” came the shout from the audience. “You’ve got an hour left.”

That was not a bad estimate, the musicians staying on much longer than their allotted slot. I get the impression they would have continued all night – and there would not have been any complaints from the audience had they done so.

The remainder of the set took in bluegrass, strathspeys, reels and jigs and effectively turned into one of the best sessions imaginable with Cook and MacGillivray taking turns to lead – leaping effortlessly from tune to tune.

In short it was tremendous.

The difficult job of following that fell to the young Fiddle Finale group of eight girls tutored by Alan Gifford opening with a set of five reels including the brilliantly-named The Doon Hangin Tie.

But there was more to Fiddle Finale than traditional tunes, we were treated to Bach, Ukranian tunes and Shuffling Samuel and Whistling Rufus, which Gifford used to listen to at his aunt’s on a Parlophone 45. He joked that there were plenty in the audience who would remember vinyl records.

The standout moment came with the performance of Eternal Tears of Love, a musical tribute to Davie Henderson. And that as despite a mishap that saw a string on the cello snap as it was retuned. The youngsters deserve credit for carrying on regardless and the tune was beautiful without the cello. “It’s a lovely tune for a lovely man,” said Gifford.

There had been a further demonstration of young local talent to open the night’s entertainment in the form of Jane McLaren and Norman Willmore, ably backed by fiddler Martha Thomson and double bass player Haydn Hook.

Willmore is a gifted musician and his jazz-inflected keyboard playing added an extra dimension to the collection of Robert Burns’ songs performed by McLaren. The group had only had a chance to practise together briefly having reunited from various universities in the mainland. It says something about their collective ability that they were able to put on such a good show with a maturity that belied their years.

The remainder of the night was filled by two acts known for providing a modern sound that is deeply rooted in traditional music. First were Rura  followed by Jamie Smith’s Mabon.

Rura started with a lively blast of tunes, given extra “oomph” courtesy of the Highland pipes, followed by a set of self-penned jigs. Theirs is a full sound with a rocky edge – but with the rhythm coming from the bodhran and those pipes the traditional link is evident.

Adam Holmes was welcomed onto the stage for two songs and his deep, mournful vocals brought a change of pace. With flutes and whistles instead of the pipes complementing Holmes’ semi-acoustic guitar there was a different complexion to the sound. Holmes is mightily popular among many music fans in the isles following his appearance at last year’s festival. His voice is superb but the on-off nature of his set with Rura was a little bit odd.

Headline act for the night was Jamie Smith’s Mabon. The band hails from Wales and blends fiddle and accordion with a rocky – and at times electro – sound. There are times when the gadgetry pushes the Celtic link to the boundaries and sometimes it could be argued that less is more.

It’s obvious that Smith and the rest of the band are well-versed in the folk tradition taking in plenty of jigs and reels delivered in an energetic and innovative way.

Despite several pleas from Smith encouraging to get people dancing it took until the very last song for a few – including some of Rura – to take heed as Mabon ramped up the pace again. It was a fantastic way to end another fantastic night and there were cries for “more” as the band departed.

That would have to wait until the band filled the late slot at the festival club. Quite how they had the energy to do it I don’t know.

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Ness hit for seven as Spurs send out a message Sun, 03 May 2015 14:44:50 +0000 Lerwick Spurs sent out a message to all contenders that they were still the team to beat as they kicked off the G&S Flooring Premier League season with a thumping win over Ness United in Cunningsburgh.

The defending champions shared a fairly even opening 10 minutes with the home side on Friday, but began to take control of the game. Having had a shout turned down five minutes earlier, they were awarded a penalty with 20 minutes gone. Sam Ward stepped up but hit the bar, handing Ness a brief reprieve.

Ness nearly capitalised four minutes later, Ian Bray making his way into the area and drawing the keeper out before squaring to Bradley MacKenzie, who was unable to make clean contact, and put the ball wide from close range.

Spurs made Ness pay immediately as a slide-rule pass played in Scott Morrison from the left, his low shot beating Kern Duncan in the Ness goal.

As Spurs cranked up the pressure, Duncan was called on again on 38 minutes, rushing out to stop the advancing Paul Molloy, who rounded him and drew a foul and penalty, giving the referee no alternative but to send off Duncan.

Danny Finnie, already on as a substitute for the injured Ryan Keddie, took the gloves and made a smart save low to his left from Molloy’s kick.

Spurs could not be held at bay for long however, Ward getting onto a Molloy centre to score shortly before the break.

Going into the second half a man short, Ness were always likely to struggle, but initially held their own, keeping players in forward positions and pressing the Spurs defenders in packs to force errors.

Their positivity paid dividends on 56 minutes when Nethan Watson latched onto a pass, showed good strength to hold off his marker and finished emphatically to give Ness an unlikely lifeline at 1-2.

Spurs responded with all the force of champions, blitzing four goals in less than 10 minutes. Another Molloy cross found James Johnston unmarked to immediately restore their two-goal cushion. Four minutes later, Molloy grabbed a well-earned goal after finding himself in behind the Ness defence, and he doubled his tally two minutes later after a one-two with Johnston. Sam Ward’s second arrived on 67 minutes with a fierce drive, leaving Spurs in command and Ness reeling at 1-6.

Spurs dominated a tired Ness, with Johnston’s calm in midfield and Morrison’s skill on the left particularly impressing. The only surprise about the seventh was that it took until the 88th minute to arrive, Molloy sealing his hat trick after a defensive error. Spurs have laid down a marker and, on this evidence, will not give up their title easily.

Liam Billington

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Magical mystical night at Clickimin Sat, 02 May 2015 17:11:05 +0000 Dazzling white lights, softer shafts of smoky blue and orange and a strong long bass sound made for an exhilarating experience to end Friday night’s performance at Clickimin.

Jamie Smith's Mabon ranged from the tender to the mystical. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Jamie Smith’s Mabon ranged from the tender to the mystical. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Jamie Smith’s Mabon had the audience enraptured as they punched their powerful music into the night at the big space of the games hall, with sounds ranging from the tender to the mystical, or jigs to dance to – and by the end of their set the space in front of the stage was crowded with dancers.

The Welsh-based five piece band, maybe the only Welsh band to play at Shetland Folk Festival, according to accordion player and vocalist Jamie Smith, went down a storm. Specialising in Celtic music, their sound got people in the audience clapping as they ranged from reels to driving melodies with sterling work by fiddle player Tom Callister and a touching love ballad about a woman in throughout the stages of her life, sung in Welsh.

The band must be special, said Smith, as they had had comedian and circus man Steve Cousins from Wangi Wangi, Australia, late of Britian’s Got Talent to introduce them – Cousins also drew the raffle.

But the night was all about the music. First on stage were Hansel, a group of sixth-year pupils playing fiddle and accordion, accompanied by their tutor Margaret Scollay. Their faultless rendition of Shetland music, some written by Scollay, was delightful, but sadly this would be their last gig, she said, as all five members were about to leave school and go their separate ways. In spite of that they ended their set with a high, playing three Irish tunes called the “Paddy set”.

Next up were American duo Mollie O’Brien and her “current husband” Richard Moore (although they met in 1981 and have grown-up daughters) – a description O’Brien quickly changed to “my epic man”.

Together they produced a brilliant and varied set, with Moore’s guitar accompanying the soaring, sweeping voice of his wife. O’Brien sang with gusto and raw power with jazzy or bluesy overtones, filling the vast arena. Some numbers were funny, like her own composition about trying to become a star in New York and some were thoughtful, about breaking up or questioning the definition of love. But all were delivered in her strong voice, alternately strident or sweet, with consistently clear diction.

The pair had the audience laughing along. Moore asked: “How’s my hair?” when he came on, and said: “If you get bored there’s a strapping young man up there,” he said, pointing out someone working out in the gym area whom he suggested the audience watch instead.

O’Brien, who also performs with her brother Tim, is a Grammy Award winner, and fact that was not lost on the next act, local singer and songwriter Arthur Nicolson. “I’ve got to follow a Grammy Award-winning singer, no pressure,” he said.

But his performance was polished and belied the fact that this was his first solo show at Clickimin. His superb guitar playing and song-writing talent produced a fine set, with his songs including Sticks and Stones, Lay Me Down, All the Right Mistakes and Go For It (we’ll deal with it later) getting whoops and whistles from the audience. And the sales of his CD were brisk.

Flook's Brian Finnegan. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Flook’s Brian Finnegan. Photo: Dave Donaldson

He was followed by the third visiting band of the night, Flook, making a welcome return to the folk festival after nearly 20 years. “We’re going to lower the tone after that lovely singing,” said main man Brian Finnegan, who composed one of the numbers inspired by a beach in Donegal.

His flute playing, and that of Sarah Allen, together with guitar and bodhran made for an amazing sound. Technically brilliant, their instruments interwove in fast and furious playing, and the band, well known on the English and Irish folk scene, even got the audience to hum along to provide a trombone part.
Altogether it was a great night of music with great atmosphere.

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Varied lineup warmly welcomed at Mareel Sat, 02 May 2015 14:28:53 +0000 A good humoured Mareel audience were treated to an eclectic gig of high quality music last night with five acts from around the globe proving that the Folk Festival can still bring diversity to the musical table.

Kicking off were the excellent Freda Leask and Shoormal, who surely should have been higher up the billing – but then the same could be said for all of the acts, with the powerful string underpinnings of Alice Mullay and Greg Arthur.

Shoormal delivered a Vagaland poem put to music by Bernard Smith, which was a gentle intro to proceedings, before serving up a slice of Americana courtesy of Amos Lee’s Supply and Demand. Mullay and Arthur swapped places at the grand piano and electric keyboard demonstrating the versatility that Shoormal is shot through with.

They they played another fine dialect tune called Winter Light before finishing off with the lively Bill Monroe bluegrass number Can’t You Hear Me Calling, which was probably the pick of the bunch with some particular interplay by Arthur and bassist Jonathon Ritch – more normally at the helm of Mareel’s awesome sound system. Rich or no, the sound at Mareel was excellent and remained so throughout the night.

Next up was one of the interesting curiosities of the festival. Swedish trio Ahlberg, Ek & Roswall produced a very well-crafted sound of antique beauty that at its best was quite haunting. Ahlberg on fiddle was well complimented by the decidedly odd-looking nyckelharpa, or key-harp, wielded by Roswall – a world champion on the instrument and Ek on guitar.

Together they produced a very pleasing set of traditional and new Swedish tunes and polskas which received a great ovation from the audience. Much like the nyckelharpa itself, much of the music had a very old quality, that resonated of 18th century ballrooms and chamber music.

Normally, the reviewer thinks music unaccompanied by singing is often lacking something, but the Swedes proved a very honourable exception.

After the break the Australian Frank Yamma was centre stage, sporting a very basic set-up of man and guitar, but boy, could he crank out some volume on the acoustic six-string.

Yamma sang in both Aboriginal and English – sometimes with both languages in the same song. This meant that the reviewer had no idea what many of the lyrics were, but the frequently anguished emotions in Yamma’s voice were unmistakable, whatever the language.

Yamma is a fine composer of fairly simple folk/acoustic material. There are probably better guitarists around and certainly better singers, but his power and feeling elevates his performance to a higher level. Yamma, oddly complaining of the heat in Mareel, got another rousing ovation from the audience, and was probably the highlight of the night.

Next up, homebodies Haltadans got off to a rollicking set of fiddle tunes from Collafirth and followed that with a Swedish set that had developed a definite Shetland accent, according to the jovial Maurice Henderson on fiddle.

Ably accompanied by Lois Nicol and Ewan Thomson on fiddle, John Clark on bass and Grant Nicol on guitar, Henderson and Haltadans were very warmly welcomed by their home audience and their expert and electric playing received perhaps the loudest cheers of the evening.

The band played tunes inspired by Foula’s spectacular scenery, notably Easter Hoevdi, that are on their new EP and then a set of out-takes that didn’t make it onto the EP. It was very lively stuff played mostly at a high-tempo and a great crowd-pleasing addition of Shetland fiddle music to the concert.

After the ubiquitous raffle, the much anticipated Rura were last up. With a lineup including bodhran, fiddle, bagpipes and guitar, Rura produced a very fluid and, unsurprisingly, Celtic sound. With the familiar face of Adam Holmes and his guitar joining the lineup, the tempo dropped for Holmes’s distinctive vocals to take over.

Rura were a fitting finale for the evening. David Foley on bodhran, Jack Smedley on fiddle, Steven Blake on pipes and flute and Adam Brown on guitar are all accomplished musicians and the varied instruments meshed beautifully without the pipes dominating proceedings. Rura were met with enthusiastic clapping and cheering from the crowd and even managed an encore, though the crowd would have demanded that of all the musicians had there been time.






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Assault man remanded in custody Sat, 02 May 2015 12:30:58 +0000 A man was remanded in custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday after admitting assaulting and harassing his estranged wife.

Richard Kortram, 49, of North Road, Lerwick, was arrested after assaulting his estranged wife when she had gone to visit him after he had made a string of calls to her and her mother on Wednesday.

The same day he had failed to turn up for a court appearance relating to an earlier charge of causing his wife fear and alarm by repeatedly phoning and texting her threatening to kill her and himself if they did not reconcile. Kortram had been bailed on condition that he made kept away from her and made no further contact with her.

Instead, he persuaded her to visit him at North Road to discuss their situation – they have an 18-month-old child. He threw a punch at his wife and straddled her on the couch where he put his hands round her throat choking her. When she tried to leave the house he chased her and grabbed her. After she again struggled free Kortram then pursued her outside and got into her car and sat on her. When police got to the scene he also struggled with and obstructed them.

Sheriff Philip Mann said it was a “disturbing situation” and remanded Kortram in custody to prevent him committing further offences, especially against this estranged wife. The case will continue on 27th May when reports will be prepared.

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Prize winners and guests told of marine centre’s key industry role Fri, 01 May 2015 17:32:35 +0000 The NAFC Marine Centre plays a critical role in launching the careers of some of the world’s most talented seafarers, a shipping industry leader said today as he handed out prizes to top performing students.

Guy Platten, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, praised the “excellent” work done at the centre in Scalloway, during a short ceremony to mark the achievements of cadets in 2014.

Among the prizewinners were Andrew White, skipper of the Copious, who won the Jeanette Williamson Prize; Mark Leech, of Subsea 7, who took home both the Bells Nautical Trust Deck Cadet and Clyde Marine Deck Cadet prizes; and Thomas Stewart, of Solstad, who picked up the Northern Lighthouse Board Prize – Deck.

Mr Platten said it was a huge honour to be asked to present the prizes given his long connection with Shetland, which stretched back to his days as an inspector with the RNLI and working for the Northern Lighthouse Board.

He told the prizewinners and invited guests: “You’ve had a first-rate introduction to a maritime career here. The NAFC Marine Centre is an excellent college.

“And this is an industry where if you work hard, the future can be whatever you want it to be.”

Mr Platten emphasised that more and more graduate students would be required to meet a doubling of global sea trade in the next 20 years.

He said: “The world’s ship owners will need more first class seafarers like those who come out of the NAFC than ever before.

“We need to create a new seafaring generation, for young people of all backgrounds and from all walks of life to go to sea, learn new skills, reach out to every corner of the globe and then, eventually, return home to use those skills to maintain the UK’s role as a world leader in maritime business services.

“In short, we need more people like you.”

NAFC Marine Centre director Willie Shannon said he was delighted Mr Platten had accepted the invitation to present the prizes and pointed out that the Centre was held up as an exemplar because it focused on the marine sector and met industry requirements.

Experienced staff, small class sizes and attention to detail meant the centre had a high rate of retention among students and a high success rate.

There are currently more than 270 students on one to three-year programmes at the Centre. Hundreds of further students attend short courses during the year.

The full list of winners at today’s ceremony is:

Jeanette Williamson Prize – Class 2 fishing award sponsored by Hunter and Morrison Trust: Winner – Andrew White (skipper, Copious)

Forbes Watt Prize for Navigation – sponsored by Hunter and Morrison Trust: Winner – David Thomson (SIC Ferries)

Northern Lighthouse Board Prize – Deck : Winner – Thomas Stewart (Solstad)

Northern Lighthouse Board Prize – Engineering: Winner – Stuart Donald (Vroon)

NAFC Modern Apprentice of the Year: Winner – Lewis Sykes (LFT Grieg Hjaltland)

Bells Nautical Trust Deck Cadet: Winner – Mark Leech (Subsea 7)

North Star Shipping Engineering Cadet: Winner – Jason Park (DOF)

Clyde Marine Deck Cadet: Winner – Mark Leech (Subsea 7)

Clyde Marine Engineering Cadet: Winner – Magnus Isbister (GulfMark)

Nautical Institute Prize: Winner – Christopher Anderson (Fletcher Shipping)

Jim Thomas Memorial Prize: Winner – Alexander Nunn-Thompson (Scottish Sea Farms)


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Air ambulance ‘unaffected’ by Jigsaw withdrawal Fri, 01 May 2015 15:48:26 +0000 The Scottish Ambulance Service has insisted that emergency cover to the outer isles is unaffected by the removal of the Jigsaw helicopter from Sumburgh at the start of April.

But North Isles councilors have said that any withdrawal of service is deeply concerning and the lack of consultation and 48 hours notice given by BP that they were to relocate the helicopter to Aberdeen have been strongly criticized.

The ambulance service moved to assure the public that the same level of emergency cover is there with a statement this morning that said the Sumburgh based coastguard helicopter, ambulance service helicopters – the nearest of which is in Inverness – or “another UK Search and Rescue aircraft” will continue to provide service.

Until 1st April the Jigsaw aircraft was available to assist the ambulance service to undertake urgent non-emergency transfer requests from outer island GP’s to transfer patients to hospital within two or nine hours as “dictated by their clinical condition”.

SIC councilor Gary Cleaver, who has worked hard to sort out air ambulance provision with MSP Tavish Scott over a number of years said that there had been a deplorable lack of consultation before the axing of the Jigsaw.

He added: “The loss of it is very regrettable. The lack of information and the lack of discussion with communities was again regrettable.

“I’m not entirely sure how the same level of service can be provided when one of the lynch-pin aircraft is now no longer in the scenario.”

His North Isles colleague Robert Henderson said that the issue had been discussed at Fetlar Community Council, where it was of particular concern, as Fetlar was two ferry journeys away from the mainland.

He added: “Any reduction in service is regrettable to outlying areas of Shetland, there’s no doubt about it. I’m sure that everyone would like to have as much cover as possible, but if they are giving a reassurance that they are providing us with what’s needed, it’s difficult to argue with that.”

The Jigsaw helicopter contract was due to run out in March 2016, but that date was moved forward by a year with the ambulance service given 48 hours notice on 30th March.

The ambulance service statement says: “Shetland Islanders should be reassured that, the decision to relocate to Aberdeen does not affect our response to emergency calls and in the event of an emergency, patients will continue to be evacuated using either the Scottish Ambulance Service’s own helicopters, the Sumburgh based Coastguard helicopter or another UK Search and Rescue aircraft – whichever is closest when the call is received.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service Air Ambulance Management team continues to work with NHS Shetland and will undertake a joint review of all air ambulance evacuation requests from the outer isles and discussions with air operators to address the situation are continuing. In the meantime non-emergency patients will continue to be transferred either by SAS helicopter, or by chartered use of the inter-islands Islander aircraft through a local agreement with Tingwall based Directflight.”

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Festival is back with a bang in Bigton Fri, 01 May 2015 11:51:42 +0000 The folk festival is back … and if opening night in Bigton was anything to go by it’s back with a bang.

By the end of the evening Danish band Habadekuk had the crowd on its feet clapping and stamping along to their finale.

Habadekuk had the Bigton crowd on its feet. From left: Rasmus Fribo, Kristian Bugge, Soren Lund and Peter Eget. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Habadekuk had the Bigton crowd on its feet. From left: Rasmus Fribo, Kristian Bugge, Soren Lund and Peter Eget. Photo: Dave Donaldson

It is no disrespect to the other performers to say that they stole the show – and it was the perfect way to end “folk festival Thursday”.

They were introduced to the stage as “the best thing to come out of Denmark since Lurpak butter” and they certainly spread good vibes around the hall.

Habadekuk must be the biggest band – both in terms of height and in number – at this year’s festival. And judged on their performance they are one of the boldest, brashest and downright fun acts you see.

Comprising fiddle, accordion, drums, double bass, trombone, trumpet, keyboards and saxophone the sound is not subtle. It is well worth hearing, though.

“You cannot imagine how happy and excited we are to be here,” said fiddling frontman Kristian Bugge. “We are ready for a party, are you ready? You’re welcome to dance.”

It took a while but by the end of the set the entire audience was on its feet accepting that request to dance.

The set took us through Danish polkas, waltzes and reels. And then came the one song. It’s in Danish with a ridiculously long title, and involves an audience sing-along.

The lyrics being in Danish the best option was for us to “scream your lungs out”.

“Breathe deep, find all the anger from all the mortgages you cannot pay and all the sons and daughters you don’t talk to any more … and roar,” ordered saxophonist Rasmus Fribo.

And roar we did which is no surprise really when you consider that Shetland “Vikings” know a thing or two about roaring. It certainly brought the night to a rip-roaring conclusion.

The night had begun in much calmer fashion, with talented young Ollaberry-based singer-songwriter Antonia Sidgwick.

Her mix of self-penned songs and a smattering of Johnny Cash covers endeared her well to the crowd. She has warm earthy vocals and a great tone and Sidgwick’s confident performance, including some exceptionally creative guitar playing, set the bar for the night’s entertainment.

The stand-out song was Frankie-Oh, one of her “story songs” on the EP Now, which is surely worth a listen.

Next on were the fantastic Flook making a festival return after 17 years. “It’s fantastic to be back in Shetland, we

Flook's Sarah Allen. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Flook’s Sarah Allen. Photo: Dave Donaldson

were starting to think we were getting a wee bit too old. We were getting the WD40 out today,” joked Brian Finnegan.

If lubrication was needed it certainly worked as the four-piece burst into a superb lively opening set.

I’m always amazed by the range of sound a simple bodhran can make and despite cracking his fingerJohn Joe Kelly’s skills again had me mesmerised.

They took things more upbeat with a set of Irish tunes. The impeccable timing showed why Flook are so highly thought of. Is it really possible that four people can create such a rich sound?

Ireland – more precisely a Donegal beach, not the one just down the road from Bigton – was also the inspiration for a more tranquil set. There was even time for Habadekuk trombonist Anders Ringgaard to join the band for a while.

It was an impressive performance, and one wonders why it took 17-years for them to return.

My reason for choosing Bigton on the first night was aboriginal singer Frank Yamma, who I’d listened to online as soon as the festival line-up was announced.

His deep, warm vocals are full of character and were unsurprisingly more impressive live.

He is this year’s furthest travelled visiting artiste and it was pointed out that his songs take the audience on a journey, too. I was swept along by them, both in English and aboriginal.

If Yamma’s voice tells a story it is no surprise if his tales of drinking, smoking, driving, getting busted and doing time before being saved by a woman are anything to go by.

There’s certainly a grittiness to his songs, but there’s also beauty. I particularly liked the lyric: “I see mountains, I see rainbows dreaming for you… and I see the time the sky was on fire.”

Songs did the talking for Yamma on the night but if there is a criticism, his interaction with the audience was missing a bit of spark and perhaps that’s why he did not quite live up to the high expectation I had of him. I’m still going to buy his CD, though.

Local boys Väir completed the lineup with the post-break, pre-raffle slot and they were up for enjoying the night.

Cheeky banter aside, Väir are four superb musicians and the set included everything from foot-stomping jigs, to beautiful waltzes. The guitar playing from Ryan Couper and Jonny Polson was immaculate supported by the Peterson brothers on mandolin/banjo.

Their set was brilliant throughout, but it was the tune Ackrigarth written in memory of and dedicated to Davie Henderson, who was instrumental in encouraging Väir to form, which was a highlight. It is a stunning tune given extra poignancy.

One of the great things about the folk festival is the eclectic mix the committee excels in bringing here. If this show was a precursor to what is ahead they have done it again.

How long before somebody says, “it’s the best festival yet?”

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Floortje tells Islands’ story Fri, 01 May 2015 11:45:46 +0000 The hazy light of the early evening and the mist tumbling off the cliffs. Rediscovering home has been an intriguing experience for photographer Floortje Robertson.

After setting sail for Glasgow, 32-year-old Floortje returned to the isles two years ago. Now she has the first exhibition of her work, Islands, on show at the Peerie Shop Cafe, capturing landscapes seascapes and characterful images from Shetland, the Western Isles and Fuerteventura.

“I moved back home and had a lot of time on my hands. I was a bit disenchanted with living in the city and I was recharging – spending a lot of time walking, and visiting friends and just re-seeing places I thought I knew really well.”

It’s been a project that has been 18 months in the making and for Floortje, who lives and grew up on Shetland’s West Side.

One of many atmospheric photos from Floortje's Islands exhibition.

One of many atmospheric photos from Floortje’s Islands exhibition.

She speaks fondly of the Shetland landscape, and even her commute into Lerwick is a gift with its stunning panoramas.

“I think I still feel lucky to be here and I feel lucky to be able to travel to other places like the Western Isles and Fuerteventura,” she says.

“I know when I have the camera that part of my brain is aware of when there’s a picture, so it really slows me down and makes me see more.

“Holding the camera in my hand I was ready without realising, I was suddenly taking landscapes and seascapes and something I never really enjoyed taking pictures of.

“I think that I have definitely slowed down since moving home. I’ve continued to try and  make that part of my daily routine; that slowing down in terms of noticing things around me.”

Though Floortje admits she did not start taking the photos with ideas in mind.

She and fiancé, sound engineer and musician Tim Matthew, have also spent time with his family in Mull and Fuerteventura over the past two years.

While the link between the islands is to some extent through circumstance, there is a connection running deeper through the photos.

“It has gone the other way around, I’ve collected photos that have come from the same process in different places, but I realise they have the same narrative running through them; of noticing the space.”

In the pictures, she speaks of edges being indistinct, where solid masses emerge, where the sea merges into the sky.

“The reason it ended up being islands was because I felt similar impulses to take photographs in Fuerteventura and the Westerns Isles.”

Though she is wary of being prescriptive of the meanings of her photographs, she says:  “I want people to be able to put their own stories and interpretations onto them.”

Earlier this month she held a well-attended launch event the cafe.

“It was lovely to see so many people and I’ve had some really nice comments from folk, which is really nice because it’s quite daunting to put your work out there, all together in one solid, tangible context.”

She said she is used to putting photos online, but she admits there is “a distance there even though there’s people online, you don’t know them on the street or in the Co-op.”

She has also received funding from Shetland Arts and Creative Scotland for her project Haa – a photographic documentary of Walls and Skeld halls over the space of 12 months.

“I wanted to do it over a year so I can document as many of the diverse happenings that take place in a local hall over the year,” she says.

Community halls, “play such a special part in our lives and I think the people that make things happen in them should be celebrated”.

As well as landscapes Floortje has an interest in portraits. She has captured musicians Inge Thomson and Kris Drever and has also taken shots for Shetland Jewellery.

Taking portraits is “revisiting an old challenge,” she says.

“It’s about learning quite a lot about a person in a very small amount of time.”

“I want to find a moment in them that’s quite truthful,” she adds.

“I don’t want to show anybody as anything other than what they are. I think people are fascinating.”

• Islands will be in the Peerie Shop Café until 31st May.


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