Fiddlers pay fitting tribute to Anderson
As part of the Hamefarin celebrations, a Tammy Anderson Tribute Concert was held in the Clickimin on Wednesday evening.
Featuring some of Shetland’s best known fiddlers and those who knew or were influenced by the man, the line-up included Catriona MacDonald, Shetland’s Heritage Fiddlers and Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham.
Hosts for the evening were Mary Blance and Charlie Simpson, who did a fantastic job of introducing the acts, but more than this – and with the help of some lovely recordings of Tammy talking – helped to paint a picture of the man and bring him to life for the evening.
First to play were the Shetland Fiddlers Society. Originally formed in 1960 by Tammy for the first Hamefarin, the group is still going strong, although with different members, who played a selection of traditional tunes.
While the concert was mainly made up of those taught by Tammy, it included music that had inspired him, and the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle music from the Telemark region is one example.
Annbjørg Lien studied Hardanger fiddle from Hauk Buen, of the renowned musical Buen family in Norway with whom Tammy was great friends.
Annbjørg was joined on stage by Per Anders Buen Garnås, nephew of Hauk and Knut. They played several Hardanger tunes, which to my unaccustomed ear had unusual timing.
Their set also included a trio of tunes written by Knut, one of which was inspired by a trip to Shetland, and I Vesterveg, which features a poem written by Rhoda Bulter which Annbjørg recited.
Next up was the Heritage Fiddlers, a group known when they were youngsters as Tammy’s Peerie Angels.
Their lightsome set included some of his best known tunes, including Da Slockit Light and Peter’s Peerie Boat, as well as some tunes written for Tammy and the Young Heritage by Bob McQuillen.
While respected for this playing and reciting, Tammy’s legacy lives on thanks to his teaching and Shetland music may not be what it is were it not for his insistence on teaching fiddle in schools.
One of his best-known pupils and one of the original Peerie Angels was Catriona MacDonald, who played a truly fantastic set.
Joined by another Peerie Angel, Margaret Scollay, Catriona explained she had been bequeathed a Hardanger fiddle by Tammy, with the condition she visit Knut Buen to learn that style of music. While by her own admission this was not as successful as it might have been, the impish tune, Tuddal Troll, that she wrote as a gift to Knut well made up for it.
She was also joined by Annbjørg Lien, who she met while in Norway with the Young Heritage Fiddlers. The two have become best friends, and played a beautiful, mesmerising slow air, Shingly Beach, written by Tammy after a walk on Stenness in Eshaness.
The final act of the night was the duo of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham. Aly is Shetland’s best-known fiddler and one of Tammy’s most successful pupils, and while his music was the main feature of the night, the anecdotes and snapshots of Tammy’s life that he shared made the concert all the more special.
It was a brilliant night of music and remembrance which Shetlanders current and returning should be proud of.