Maggie gets them dancing

Danny Kyle open stage winners Maggie Adamson and Brian Nicholson had a busy year in 2008, appearing at the Shetland, Orkney and Gosport Folk Festivals and also performing at the Danny Kyle Memorial Concert in Paisley, marking 10 years from his death.

Making a wonderful start to this year they had their first official Celtic Connections gig on Saturday 18th January at St Andrews in the Square, a beautifully restored 18th century church in the heart of Glasgow.

What a setting for a night of splendid tunes. Maggie and Brian’s version of Da Full Riggit Ship/Da New Riggit Ship fairly made me tink lang fir hame and had the audience in a delighted hush. The Old Rugged Cross had more than a few reaching for their hankies and when they played Czardas, a Hungarian tune, the folk were stomping and clapping along in true Gypsy style.

They ended their fantastic set of tunes with The Mason’s Apron. Playing around with different styles and timings really brought their individual talents to the fore – when the tune switched to waltz time Brian asked the seated audience for a dance and there was not a still seat in the house.

As a duo they are a force to be listened to. Maggie’s sound is quite unique, characterised by strong tone and mature expressive sound. Brian’s style stretches the traditional Shetland Peerie Willie accom­paniment into a new dimension. Together they are nothing short of dynamic. Since her first visit to Celtic Connections five years ago it’s been Maggie’s dream to return and play at the Festival Club stage. This year, the night before their gig, her dream came true – they played to a packed Friday night festival club, went down a storm and even got a standing ovation.

Another busy Shetland musician was the delightful Inge Thomson of Fair Isle who performed with five acts during festival.

She first appeared as part of Sequence, 12 leading female folk artists from countries linked by the North Sea and North Atlantic. Their sumptuously layered arrangements interweaved songs and tunes from all the countries’ traditions, celebrating their connections and forging new ground.

The others Inge performed with were Kim Edgar, Harem Scarem, Karine Polwart and last but not least The Martin Green Machine. And with a trip to the Tromso Northern Lights Festival in Norway in the middle of all that, it was a hectic time indeed.

Heidi Pearson


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