The Thomas Fraser story continues to attract worldwide interest with visitors from Australia as well as musicians from America expected at this year’s festival.
The 10th event to be held in memory of the now-famous Burra musician will take place in the Burra Public Hall, Hamnavoe, over the weekend starting on 10th November.
Special guests this year are Christopher and Taylor, The Malpass Brothers from Goldsboro, North Carolina, who regularly tour Canada and America with Merle Haggard. In addition, they tour the States with a band that includes their father Chris and family friend Brent Hood who will appear with them in Hamnavoe.
The group specialises in old-time country music with Hank Williams being the major influence. Indeed they have recorded with the late Don Helms, Williams’ steel player.
A festival spokeswoman said: “We have really pushed the boat out financially to bring the Malpass Brothers to Shetland. It’s a long way to come for a large group and I hope that the Shetland audience will enjoy them. Their sound is real old-time country; it will be a special treat to see them live.”
Also new this year is Lynda Anderson, the Yell fiddler who lived in Nashville where she made the acquaintance of “Nashville royalty” Chris Scruggs whose attendance at previous festivals caused such a stir. Lynda promises traditional music from both sides of the Atlantic.
Duncan McLean, who wrote the National Theatre of Scotland show telling Thomas Fraser’s story, is back this year, bringing with him The Driftwood Cowboys who previously appeared as part of the Lone Star Swing Band. This year they promise a great new sound and news of other projects.
Also on the bill are the Glasgow-based Moonshiners who last appeared in 2008 and whose new line-up includes champion fiddler Gemma Donald, originally from Whiteness.
Laeverick make a welcome return after two years. Anyone who heard them at the 2011 Shetland Folk Festival or during the Tall Ships visit will be keen to hear them again. Brian Nicholson too returns after his spellbinding performances at last year’s shows.
Thomas’s great-niece Alison Ramsay will make her third consecutive appearance, but no festival is complete without the musicians who in their younger days regularly made their way to Setter to play with and learn from Thomas: Robbie Cumming, Arthur Pottinger and Eddie Williamson. Thomas’s one-time shipmate Allan Tulloch; and his family May, Mackie and Rhonda complete the line-up.
The concerts will be compèred, in inimitable style, by Geordie Pottinger and John William Ward.
Tickets cost £10 for Thursday 10th, and £14 for Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November and will be on sale from Saturday 15th October at the Hamnavoe Shop in Burra, Yealtaland Books & Post Office in Scalloway and Da Peerie Shop in Lerwick.
The final music of the weekend can be heard at the Bridge-End Church of Scotland on the Sunday afternoon at 3pm, when the Malpassess will lead a gospel concert in aid of the RNMDSF.
The concert will also feature Laeverick, and Caroline Simpson and Stefanie Pottinger. Doors will open at 2.30pm.