By Mark Burgess
The recent Who Do You Think You Are? event staged by the Burra History Group was hailed as a great success with a good number of visitors attending to exchange genealogical information. The event’s format is taken from a TV show of the same name in which celebrities retrace their family trees. The Burra event, in the Easthouse centre, sought to offer the chance for locals to similarly find out more from knowledgeable resident experts and also for the experts to improve their knowledge and records.
Another project which benefited from the event was a Burra place names map which the group have created, to map and record the historical names of “every knowe and banks broo” of the Burra isles in the manner of past generations, when individual knowledge of an area was far more intimate through working the land and sea than it is in modern times. Several older place names were added to their map project by visitors at the event. The BHG hope to run another similar event in February of next year.
Stars in their Eyes
The annual Stars in Their Eyes variety show set a new standard this year with a two-night spectacular showcase of local music and comedy. The charity fund-raising night sold out two evenings in the Scalloway hall at around 200 people per night and took the audience from tears of affinity with some of the haunting vocal melodies to tears of laughter at the sublimely ridiculous.
The Stars in Their Eyes show follows the format of the popular TV show that took ordinary members of the public and allowed them to take centre stage dressed as their musical idols, singing and looking as much like them as possible. The local version follows this format with a bit more poetic licence in mimicking the appearance and a bit of deliberate farce thrown in, but many of the performers sing with no less talent or dedication than their TV counterparts.
Both evenings ran the same list of performers, but one particularly “cheeky” act were unable to attend the Friday evening performance and with that exception and a brief interruption from the Northern Constabulary on Saturday only, the acts were as follows.
Leslie Watt was the compère for the events and his banter and informal questioning of the performers prior to and after their performances is an integral part of what sets the lightsome tone throughout. His partner, or accessory, in interviewing the performers is the now infamous “Magic Cloak” used to conceal the costume and make-up of the performers but said also to be a bringer of magic stage confidence that is instilled upon any who wear it to a level that is sometimes overpowering.
The evening began with a confidently comical duet of Kenny Rogers, enthusiastically played by nine-year-old Caitlin Bussetil, and Dolly Parton, played by Ross Jamieson, 10. It should be emphasised that as well as opening the night on a humorous note, the duo did not hold back on the vocals and performed the country classic Nine to Five with more than enough artistic merit. After their performance, when questioned by the compère as to why they had volunteered to perform, the answer was that they had been persuaded to do so by Scalloway School’s Miss Inkster who was described as “the best teacher in the world”.
The next cloaked performer to take the stage was Harry Irvine, who was coaxed into telling a humorous anecdote about long distance running. “They broke the mould when they made dee,” said the host before he departed the stage to return as Elvis. Only when he reappeared he had shrunk to miniature size, approximately that of seven-year-old Campbell Hunter, before the host administered an antidote to reduce the effects of this overdose of the magic cloak and he returned to the stage as full size Harry to sing Viva Las Vegas, in full Elvis regalia.
Thirteen-year-old Shaela Halcrow was up next and took on an up to date Taylor Swift rendition of Teardrops on my Guitar and although appearing a little nervous at first she sang strongly and tunefully, bringing much applause.
A regular performer at this event, and others, Bob Sim had chosen to portray Frank Sinatra on this occasion, singing a smooth and swinging rendition of Under My Skin, clad in a tuxedo befitting any Vegas stage.
The quirky twins known as Jedward in TV’s X-Factor seem to have become a musical Marmite to the nation, and such is their impact that they were portrayed twice in this event. The first duo to mimic the love ‘em or hate ‘em Irish twins were Leighton Black and Lindsay Williamson, both of Scalloway school, who matched Jedward’s interpretation of the Queen classic We Will Rock You and clad in leather and black laid on an athletic dance routine to accompany their singing. The stage was barely big enough for their moves. Once again when asked what had prompted them to get involved, they attributed it to a certain local music teacher.
Eleven-year-old Heather Isbister was another returning artist and, of all the evening’s performers, perhaps gave one of the most studied performances. Taking on the signature tune and appearance of 60s and 70s icon Doris Day with Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will be, Will be), she sang well and exuded the poise and grace of Ms Day in abundance. The wide appeal of the song and quality of performance made this a real crowd pleaser.
Another return performer to excel himself was Bryan McCaffrey. With mention of his name and knowledge of his long track record of country and traditional songs, it would be fair to say that his emergence from the glittering curtains as Rolf Harris to perform Jake The Peg, complete with extra appendage, caught all by surprise and had the house in fits of laughter and drew huge applause.
Songstress Francis Nicolson was duly interrogated by compere Leslie, as it was revealed that she had made an attempt for stardom on the mainland auditions for the X-Factor and although she did not achieve fame and fortune through her first attempt, she was encouraged to return to try again. She chose to sing and portray Cher with Walking in Memphis and her powerful, karaoke-honed voice was a good likeness of the deep tones of the original.
Then came a part of the evening that will be etched into many a memory for a long time to come as Magnus Bradley and Liam Tait took the stage in magic cloaks. The host tentatively talked through the Transylvania origins of another pair of infamous twins and as the penny began to drop for the apprehensive crowd the curtains were thrown back to reveal a shiny hot-pant and lycra clad, heavily made-up duo of Cheeky Girls, to sing the similarly notorious “worst pop song of all time”, the Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) which had the whole room helpless and tearful with laughter as they posed and gyrated their way through their version of the dance routine.
A fitting end to the first half of the evening as it took most of the break for the audience to regain their composure. After a soup and sandwich interlude came the Primary 5 and button-cute duo of Leigh Nicolson and Jaynie Laurenson in the sequined jumpsuit and colourful track suit of an Abba routine that had both song and dance. They were in the guise of Bjorn and Agnetha and seemingly totally un-phased by the audience, no doubt the magic cloak doing its work again.
At this point the proceedings seemed to go awry for host Leslie Watt as local policeman PC Andrew Card appeared and after a brief caution arrested Mr Watt and removed him form the stage for alleged copyright offences. In actual fact the stunt was an elaborate in-house prank played on an unwitting Leslie as he has been so keen to avoid any copyright issue. The committee members had conspired with the policeman to stage the fake arrest, much to poor Leslie’s horror. He was replaced for a time by Harry Irvine as compère while the show went on.
Singer Davy Henry was another return performer to the show and this year he treated the crowd to a sincere rendition of the Ronan Keating hit When You Say Nothing At All, holding the tune well in a challenging down tempo ballad and described by the compère as “quality, quality, quality”.
From the relatively modern to a well known hit of the sixties from a relatively unknown band, a trio of Julie Moncrieff, Freda Leask and Marie Sharp emulated the Crystals with their familiar hit Da Do Ron Ron Ron. The skilled vocalists added a bit of sequined shimmying to recreate the original hit in lightsome fashion.
It seemed likely that the now super-famous Susan Boyle might put in an appearance at the event in some form or other and indeed she did as young Jessica Johnson took on the challenge of performing her latest hit Wild Horses. A touch of make-up and a hair style change were subtle hints toward Ms Boyle’s appearance, and the haunting melody and heartfelt performance by the talented youngster genuinely brought tears to the eyes of a number of the appreciative crowd.
Professional singer Andy Ross made his debut at the show, bringing a refined rendition of Andy Williams with Moon River, living up to the hype of the host’s preamble into Mr Ross’s musical training and background.
Jedward then put in their second appearance of the evening, with teenagers Grant Wood and Robert Smith performing a highly athletic and choreographed song and dance impersonation of the twins’ take on the Robbie Williams hit Rock DJ. Their dance moves proved a big hit with a highly appreciative crowd.
Natalie Jamieson is another stage regular and on this occasion tackled a very challenging Beyoncé number Broken Hearted Girl, proving herself to be most comfortable on the hardest of notes to hit, with her powerful room filling voice and huge vocal range.
Erin Sandison needs little or no introduction, as Shetland Senior Young Musician of the Year. She performed a Judy Garland version of the seasonal classic 1944 show-tune Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Erin’s velvety vocal tone was a fitting and skilled homage to the original artist.
The evening’s performances rounded off with a grand finale of Abba’s Thank You For The Music with all artists performing, even Leslie Watt.
The money raised on the evening, combined to a generous donation from Scottish Sea Farms of £1,000 was immediately passed on to the recipient causes to the tune of almost £3,000.
The Filsket Riding Club and Scalloway Youth Centre were each given £1,001.70 and the Scalloway Community Council was given £856.56 toward the purchase and installation of new public seating for the village. The freight for bringing these benches to Shetland was also going to be donated by Streamline Shipping, it was announced. Speaking later on behalf of the committee, Kaye Sandison said: “It was a really, really, really good night. It brings the whole community together from the youngest to the oldest, so many people get involved and that makes the fund-raising almost a secondary bonus. A huge thank you to everyone that took part and came along.”
Scalloway Harbour was relatively quiet again in the week to Friday, with fishing boat activity forming the majority of vessel movements and no significant other vessels using the port other than the harbour stalwart Ronja Settler which harvests salmon for the processing factory at Blacksness.
Fish landings were high and Monday alone saw more than 1,100 boxes go through the Scalloway market. The week held consistently high landings with the exception of Thursday which saw no landings at all. The combined total for the week came to 2,673 boxes from vessels Comrades, Devotion, Fertile, Mizpah, Sharyn Louise, Venture, Guiding Light, Venturous, Guardian Angell, Radiant Star and Valhalla. The highest single landing for the week came from the Mizpah with 403 boxes.
The workboat Jessica H was lifted into the harbour after delivery by a truck to go to Moore’s for repair. The wellboat Reflex was on the slip at Moore’s at time of writing for precautionary deep cleaning after completion of the harvest of salmon infected with ISA in the area. Sites in the area are now expected to lie fallow for several months before re-stocking.
The fisheries research vessel Scotia came into port on Sunday to put a crewman ashore and while in port underwent repairs to her deck fixtures, remaining a short period longer to allow the stormy weather to pass before returning to sea to continue her fishing for research purposes.
The 60m Scotia is a state-of-the-art fishing super-vessel with equipment to tackle all the fisheries and conditions of the North Sea and North East Atlantic for the government agency Marine Scotland. Formed from a combination of the Fisheries Research Service (FRS), the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency and the Scottish government’s Marine Directorate, Marine Scotland was created to combine the functions of these agencies in one organisation to “ensure sustainable economic growth” from the marine environments around Scotland. The FRS has two research vessels, the Scotia and the Alba na Mara and these vessels carry out specialised experimental and survey work at sea to gather fisheries data.