Laura Cortese shines brightest at opening night Folk Festival concert in Voe

Punters packed into the Voe Hall for the opening night Folk Festival concert got their music filled weekend off to a flying start.

The three travelling acts and two local bands on the lineup served up entertaining and varied banquet of treats.

First up was local jazz and soul act Misbehavin’. The four piece features Shetland’s young musician of the year Amy Laurenson on keyboards, another keyboard player in the form of Melody Duncan, Joanne Tait on double bass and vocals and David Varga on drums.

Their set of covers featured tracks such as Ain’t No Sunshine and Black Magic Woman, all ably performed by Joanne’s powerful voice. Bluesy bass lines, understated percussion and dueling keyboards add weight to the young band’s sound – a group surely destined for a bright future.

The first travelling act to take the stage was Talisk. This Scottish group came to the isles with a big reputation, having won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2015.

Concertina player Mohsen Amini is undoubtedly the star of the show. His mastery of the instrument is only surpassed by his unbridled energy – at several times it appeared like he may fall off his chair.

The three piece lineup, complete by Hayley Keenan on fiddle and Craig Irving on guitar, set the bar for travelling acts high at an early stage.

Local stalwarts Vair had the daunting task of following Talisk. Four-piece Vair played with a slightly stripped back sound performing a man light.

And though percussion player Erik Peterson could not make the concert, he was there in the form of a cardboard cut-out carted on stage by guitarist Jonny Polson.

Even a man down the band still performed a lively set of Scottish, Irish and Bluegrass inspired instrumentals.

Their prowess on their respective instruments is news to no locals, being staples of the local music scene. What perhaps came as a revelation to some, however, was Lewie Peterson’s mesmerising singing.

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards were the second travelling and fourth overall act to take to the stage. The Boston based act features Valerie Thompson on cello, Jenna Moynihan on fiddle and Natalie Bohrn on bass.

Cortese leads the line, playing fiddle and providing powerful lead vocals – though all four chip in on the singing duties from time to time.

Melding folk, pop, roots and the occasional Scottish reel Laura Cortese and her band went down a storm with the crowd at the Voe Hall.

The set covered the spectrum from lively foot stompers to lyrical and absorbing slow songs. Their four way sing-a-long closer, performed without microphones and only quiet plucked fiddle strings drew the loudest applause of the night.

Canadian act, The East Pointers, closed out the evening with a lively set of Celtic tunes. The trio played with flair and obvious enjoyment. It was not long before their infectious personalities had many in the crowd clapping and foot-tapping along with their high tempo tunes.

As with Laura Cortese, however, one of the major highlights was a hypnotic slow song led by banjoist, vocalist and step-dancer Koady Chaisson.


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