The ninth Shetland Blues Festival will take place this year over the weekend of 14th-16th September and feature seven acts from far and wide.
The festival continues to book a diverse range of acts that demonstrate the range of blues music from rock to acoustic roots blues. The music coming to Shetland is some of the best in the United Kingdom and Europe.
The headline act this year is the exciting blues rock band Jon Amor Blues Group. They released their first album last year and took the UK and European blues scene by storm. UK vocalist and guitarist Amor, formerly of award-winning British band The Hoax, joins forces with long-time collaborators Dave Doherty, Chris Doherty and Si Small. Drawing inspiration from the Blues greats of the past like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, as well as more contemporary acts like Black Keys and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the group’s sound is powerful, raw and uncompromising. They were nominated for best album and group at this year’s British Blues Awards and Jon was nominated for best guitar player and vocalist. Catch this band while they are in Shetland.
The festival’s support of young, up and coming acts continues with 20-year-old Anglo-Norwegian Krissy Matthews coming to the festival. Krissy has four albums under his belt and numerous tours of the UK and Europe. His power trio will be playing blues rock with all the youthful enthusiasm it deserves, a star of the future now.
The acoustic duo Babajack hail from the Malvern Hills in the English Midlands and released their third album earlier this year to much critical acclaim. They are playing most of the UK blues festivals this year on the back of that. They have taken on the early blues ethos of making their own instruments: Trevor Steger’s home made Wine Box Guitars are a real feature of their sound with their distinctive deep growl and he also plays Dobro resonator and acoustic guitars and rack harmonica; Becky Tate has a voice to die for – she is also the percussionist playing stomp box, African drum and cajon, for which she has been nominated for a British Blues Award. Babajack has been nominated in the best acoustic act category of the British Blues Awards. You are in for blues/roots with energy, passion and originality.
The festival is excited to welcome two international acts to the festival this year, Tim Lothar from Denmark and Lincoln Durham from Austin, Texas. Tim Lothar plays acoustic blues that harks back to the sound of the Mississippi Delta in the 20s and 30s of the last century. A former Danish blues artist of the year and with a growing reputation throughout Europe for his performances and songwriting, Tim is a talent to be enjoyed on his first performances in the UK.
Lincoln Durham is coming to Shetland as part of his first UK tour and is looking forward to performing this far north in the UK. Lincoln was an accomplished fiddle player around Arkansas and Oklahoma, who had won the Texas State Youth Fiddle Championship by the age of 10. He switched to guitar and started playing the blues and has released his first album to much critical acclaim. The album produced by Ray Wylie Hubbard is a tour de force of acoustic blues and evokes the big sky country of Texas.
Our visitors from the Scottish blues scene this year reach across the generations with Papa Mojo from Aberdeen and Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters from Edinburgh. The core partnership of Papa Mojo has seen drummer Billy Allardyce and guitar player Stefan Kocemba playing in bands together for over 40 years with bass player Dave Blair being the new boy in the band for 10 years. They play the blues from the Mississippi Delta and Hill Country and never fail to impress. Billy also runs the biggest blues forum on the internet, The Blindmans Blues Forum, which brings together fans from all over the world and is a great online community.
Formed in 2008, Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters have cultivated a stage performance that is exciting and spontaneous. Drawing from the rich well of classic 50s and 60s American blues, the trio (completed by drummer Jonny Christie and bassist Pauric Logue) stay true to the traditions of the music while also taking risks. Whether laying back into a Freddie King ballad or digging-in to a hypnotic Muddy Waters groove, the band transmits power in ways other than speed and volume. The unlimited dynamic possibilities of a simple trio format make for a charismatic performance that is different every single night. Jed has recently been playing as part of an extended Blues N Trouble backing Maggie Bell.
The festival will be using Mareel this year. Having had eight great years in the Lerwick Royal British Legion the chance to use the purpose built venue of Mareel was too good to pass up. Other venues include the Ness Boating Club and the pub trail in Lerwick on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Sunday night closing gig will feature a host of local bands without whose support the festival would be difficult to put on. Local bands this year include No Sweat, Mackie and Friends, Sore Finger, Blue Melt and the Orange Whips and new band Muddy Bay and the Deep Sea Rollers fronted by Arthur Nicolson.
Tickets are on sale at the Shetland Box Office. There is an early bird ticket on sale until 31st August, which is for all three nights in Mareel and is one of the cheapest festival tickets in the UK at £30. The program is in this week’s Shetland Times or in local shops and also online at www.shetlandblues.info. Up-to-date news can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shetlandbluesfestival.