Fifteen acts spanning a broad range of musical styles have been announced for this year’s Shetland Folk Festival.
Among the returning musicians, revealed by festival organisers last night, will be Gordon Gunn, a member of Scottish folk ‘supergroup’ Session A9 who last visited the festival in 2010. Mr Gunn will be accompanied by fellow Session A9 members, including Brian McAlpine on piano, David Robertson on percussion and Marc Clement on guitar.
There are a number of other acts which exemplify the strength of the traditional and folk music scenes in Scotland at the moment. Glasgow-based three-piece Talisk are one of those acts. They will be performing on the back of their recent BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2015 win. Their sound is inspired by Irish and Scottish music and is played on guitar, fiddle and concertina.
Talisk are not the only young award winning Scottish act on the lineup. Inverness act The Elephant Sessions will be visiting the isles having won the “Up and Coming Act of the Year” at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards in 2014. The band have been making waves in the Scottish folk music scene with their unique brand of ‘Neo-trad’, which mixes Ceilidh music with diverse influences ranging from ska to funk.
Mànran will be returning to the festival having first wowed crowds in Shetland back in 2012. Their lively folk rock sound is created using an eclectic mix of instruments including fiddle, accordion, flute, uilleann and Highland bagpipes.
Gary Innes and Ewen Henderson, founding members of Mànran, will also be performing shows as a duo. Audiences can expect all the energy of their full band performances as well as some slower pieces from the Lochaber pair.
Rounding off the impressive cast of Scottish acts is gypsy jazz band Rose Room. The Glasgow-based quartet will be bringing their dance arousing, swing-inspired sound back to Shetland having first played the festival two years ago.
The folk festival is also, as always, playing host to a diverse ranging of musicians from beyond Scotland’s borders. There are three Canadian acts, two bands from the United States, an Irish act, a Belgian group and one act comprised of three nationalities.
Perhaps the standout among this eclectic range of foreign performers is the Siberian group Huun-Huur-Tu. The quartet of instrumentalists and singers come from Tuva in the south of Siberia – bordering Mongolia. Performing in traditional outfits, the band plays old and forgotten songs of Central Asia combining throat singing with adept musicianship.
The band have collaborated with many artistes in the past including legendary experimental guitarist Frank Zappa.
Hailing from Ontario in Canada Sheesham and Lotus and Son are performers who are concerned not just with music but also the presentation of a performance. Playing jaw-harps, gourd banjos and homemade instruments the North American musicians are known for their stunning musicianship as well as their visually entertaining stage performances. They are critically acclaimed in their native land having been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the category of “Best Traditional Album”.
Also making the lengthy trip from Canada are The East Pointers. This young trio was formed back in 2014 by banjoist Koady Chaisson, fiddle player Tim Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron. All three men contribute vocals to the band and Mr Chaisson may even be on hand to perform some uniquely Canadian step dancing to accompany their Celtic tinged tunes.
Wör are a Belgian five piece who perform tunes relating to their Flemish heritage with a lively modern twist. Their unique quest is inspired by their desire to bring the dance tunes of 18th Century Flanders to modern audiences, played on bagpipes, fiddle, accordion, saxophone and guitar.
Laura Cortese and The Dance Cards are a four piece from San Francisco playing folk music coupled with elements of Cajun and rock ‘n’ roll music. Laura is on fiddle and vocals duty and is accompanied in her musical performances by Valerie Thompson on cello, Jenna Moynihan on fiddle and Natalie Bohrn on bass.
De Temps Antan are the third Canadian band on the travelling artists line-up. They come from the French speaking region of Québec and the influences of their home are obvious in their markedly French-Canadian sound which includes ‘les pieds’ (seated clogging) fiddle playing from Andre Brunet. He is joined by Pierre-Luc Dupuis on accordion and Eric Beaudry on guitar.
Playing with Galician, Breton, Scottish and Americana influences the Alan Kelly Gang are an Irish band with a diverse sound. The group have traveled the world bringing their energetic foot-stomping sounds to audiences of many nationalities.
The Outside Track have members from Scotland, Ireland and Canada and this varied heritage is reflected in their musical repertoire. Playing a wide range of instruments including fiddle, accordion, harp, guitar and flute the members of The Outside Track are impressive musicians with awards to back it up. Ailie Robertson from Edinburgh has won Live Ireland and was a BBC Young Trad Finalist. Fiona Black from the Highland village of Evanton is an accomplished accordion player and a winner of the BBC’s Fame Academy.
Hot off the back of a well received debut album The Railsplitters will be performing Americana, country twang, 50s doo-wop, pop and rock ‘n’ roll inspired sets. Recent winners Rockygrass’ Best New Band Competition this young Colorado act have been tipped for big things in the future.