Variety is the spice as young musicians and actors put on a show to savour

On Saturday 11th April, I was invited to come and see the Variety show that was a fundraiser for the Shetland Young Promoter’s Group.

The first act of the night was The Brian McCaffrey Experience, or just The Experience as they will be billed at the Folk Festival. Brian was obviously nervous as lead singer, but this didn’t hold him back, as he and the lads (Ryan Stevenson, Harley Gair, Tristan Jones and Finlay Keilor) played songs by Johnny and other blues and country staples. Cocaine Blues, for me, was their best number on the night. The boys were very good, but this was their first gig, and it did slightly show. That said, I am confident that with a bit more practice and a bit more Experience (excuse the pun), they will be a band worth £8 a ticket on their own merit!

The second act of the night was a sketch by Margaret Jean & Friend and was called A Matter of Diet. First things first. Having treaded the boards myself since 2000, I know how hard the process of bringing a play together is, however long, and how nerve-racking being on stage can be. This does, under no circumstances, excuse having a script on stage, as one of the actors did here. The actor who had it spent almost all of her time looking at the script rather than her fellow actor, thus restricting her acting potential. The script was well written and had some funny lines, but they were lost in the delivery by both the actors. This sketch, about an elderly woman discussing her bowel problems with her doctor, caused by her diet, could have been entertaining, but it was just no good, I’m afraid.

Act Three was the fantastically named Norman & The Folding Deck Chairs. This was atmospheric music, skilfully played by some bright, young stars of Shetland’s musical future. They played a combination of chilled-out and lively jazz, mixed with exciting blues. One of the star acts of this year’s Shetland Music Festival also gave some interesting history about all of the tunes they played. With a cool, contemporary dress style, they looked the part, in shirts, black hats and shades. Fly Me To The Moon was my favourite tune of theirs, as it was lively and exciting, as were all of their songs on the night. But I love this song! This band handled themselves with great profes­sionalism and are a group to keep your eye on.

Act Four was the second sketch of the night and was called Da Sark, performed by two young actors called Andrew and Lauren. Thankfully, there were no scripts here! What was here was com­mendable acting with good timing. The script was written in rhyming dialect, making it interesting and entertaining. This sketch was about a wife who had bought a new shirt for her “muckle” husband. They squabble about their equally large sizes before the husband gave us a moral lesson about it being what is underneath that counts. A good sketch displaying potential future talent.

Finally, we were treated to the Senior Young Musician of the Year, Erin Sandison, singing songs by Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper and others while being accompanied by Johnny Polson on guitar. Erin looked beyond nervous, as she constantly twiddled her hands, but it never showed in her voice as she sang soulfully and spiritedly. I believe Erin completely deserves her title of Senior Young Musician of the Year. Johnny on guitar looked cool and calm, playing simple guitar that added so much to Erin’s songs. I felt KT Tunstall’s Ashes was the best song they did.

After all this, soup and bannocks were served in between dance bands Brack da Bröd, Four Piece Suite and Rachel Anne Williamson & Friends. The food and dancing was a really nice way to round off the evening’s entertainment.

James Watt


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