18th November 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Music Matters: 2016 was a year of musical brilliance

It has been a very busy year for music in the isles. Here we take a look back on a year of Music Matters and reflect on some of the musical highlights.

JANUARY
Isles musicians take mainland venues by storm
A host of Shetland musicians were making waves on the mainland. Jack Sandison, Marshall Brill, Joe Watt and Isaac Webb were all busy with music projects.
Watt, based in Ayrshire was studying commercial music at the University of West Scotland and had taken his Shetland Phony project with him.
Meanwhile Webb was busy in Edinburgh with his four-piece band Isaac & The Ranselmen, had set up his own record label Symbiode Records as well as recording other musicians on his popular music course in the capital.

Ward’s crowdfunding success
Lisa Ward and The XYY reached their £3,500 crowdfunding target to record their debut album. The band said it was using the funds to record in Mareel later in the year

FEBRUARY
Festival’s ‘dream team’
The wheels were in motion for the 36th Shetland Folk Festival with a host of local and visiting acts already announced. Folk festival committee member Lewie Peterson said a “dream team” of a spree band had been brought together for the event. The 13-piece group included Bryan Peterson, Peter Gear, Maurice Henderson, Gary Peterson and Arthur Nicholson.

Wacky creations auctioned off

Local musician Keith Neill was gearing up for a very special charity auction – selling off an array of 30 instruments he had customised including fiddles, drums, acoustic and electric guitars.
Money raised from the event was for Clan and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Keith Neill with some of his creations. Photo: Dave Donaldson.

MARCH
Drever’s boating club album launch
An intimate gig was enjoyed at Lerwick Boating Club when award-winning musician Kris Drever released his new album If Wishes Were Horses. Isles singer-songwriter Arthur Nicholson played a selection of self-penned numbers before sharing the mic with Drever for several tracks from the new record.

Settin’ the Woods on Fire

Dean Owens and a raft of local musicians played a sparkling
tribute to country legend Hank Williams with two shows in Mid Yell and Mareel. “I always love returning to Shetland and have had so many great musical experiences here and made some wonderful friends over the years,” Owens said.

Hardicus releases debut EP
Jack Hardie aka Hardicus released nine-track affair <i>The Birth</i>, venturing different styles of electronic music. Hardie, a regular at Mixology and Electric Soup nights, said the record was a collection of songs released through his Soundcloud page. “There’s a massive amount of people in Shetland that love the electronic scene, all genres of it,” Hardie said.

APRIL
Shetfest returns
After a two year absence the return of Shetfest was announced. We Came From Wolves were topping the bill for the alternative rock festival in August.
Frontman Kyle Charles said he and his band mates were excited to make their first visit to Shetland. “A few of our friends’ bands played the last Shetfest and couldn’t recommend it enough,” he said. “Although they weren’t so complimentary about the ferry ride.”

Praise for Posable Action Figures
Shetlander Gareth Goodlad, one half of band Posable Action Figures had been receiving great praise for the band’s debut EP release. The two-piece electronic rock act had their song <i>Mainline</i> played on Radio Scotland by Vic Galloway, as well a receiving rave press reviews.

MAY
Bashies’ launch party
The Bashies rocked Mareel at the launch of their debut album Too Late Now. The up-tempo seven-piece impressed with their punk-inflected pop numbers, with polished rock and country covers being lapped up by the crowd.

Darker feel to Revellers’ new album
Preparations were well under way for a night of folk, rock and all out revelry as the The Revellers looked to launch their new album Skeletons. The 12-track record was cut in Mareel with all the members of the band chipping in musical ideas. Lead singer Magnus Bradley, said: “I would say a couple of the songs are a bit more personal than the last album and some of the songs on this album are quite long”.

JUNE

Peters promises stirring performance 
Reverred Nashville singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters was excited to make her first trip to Shetland – with Grammy Award winning artist Jason Isbell already giving his seal of approval on Twitter.
She was speaking before a stripped-down set with husband Barry Walsh. “I’m playing in Nova Scotia next week and Nova Scotia is kind of a similar looking place [to Shetland],” she said. “There are ties definitely and it seems like in these places roots music really resonates with people.”

Hjaltibonhoga album
After performances in Edinburgh, Shetland and the other side of the world, burgeoning isles fiddle group Hjaltibonhoga hit the recording studio for their debut album. Fifteen sets were recorded by the group in Mareel with a concert in the arts centre to promote the album.

Music inspires Clubb’s approach to film-making
Videographer and music-lover Keiba Clubb spoke about how music inspires her work, filming at the Shetland Folk Festival and hitting the road with The Revellers and The Dirty Lemons.
“I love music and if I wasn’t filming it I would be writing it so it’s really important to me,” she said.
“I take most of my inspiration from a musical background. I will listen to a song and the visuals will feed in with that and I prefer to have the music first.”

JULY
Buffet fundraiser 
Heavy rock and Ray-Bans were the order of the day at the Heavy Metal Buffet raffle night. Lisa Ward and The XYY, The Kev T Experience and Big Time Quell were among the acts who plugged in and cranked up the amps in the sunshine.

Fiddle Frenzy
More than a week-long celebration of Shetland Fiddle Music got under way with this year’s Fiddle Frenzy. Claire White and Eunice Henderson took the helm this year as curators.

New Fiddle Frenzy curators Claire White (left) and Eunice Henderson.

Huge day of dance
A mammoth celebration of dance music, courtesy of nine DJs
connected to the isles was planned for Lerwick. Organiser Geoff Dearie, based in Glasgow said
the 15-hour Battle of the Beats event would take place in Lerwick Legion and Captain Flint’s in September.

AUGUST
Buffet gets under way 
Twenty-four bands took to the stage for this year’s Heavy Metal Buffet festival. Rock, funk, punk and metal bounced around the walls of the Lerwick Legion for the two-day extravaganza.

Greatest Hits for Big Time Quell
England striker Harry Kane, a lobster and questionable facial hair featured on Big Time Quell’s awaited debut EP Greatest Hits. The beefed up band moved from acoustic duo beginnings to a four piece, with Back of the Net later gracing the airwaves.

Holmes praises Shetland audiences
Isles favourite Adam Holmes said there was “an amazing respect for music in Shetland” ahead of a return visit to Shetland with highland songbird Rachel Sermanni. Holmes played two shows with his band The Embers, performing new material from his record Brighter Still

SEPTEMBER
Rochester rock
Razor sharp rock and roll trio Lord Rochester had their guitars and maracas at the ready for a gig at the Lerwick Legion. The three-piece released their latest record The Shetland Sessions this summer, with nods to “red tins” and Up-Helly-A’.

Community orchestra
A variety of music was performed by Shetland Community Orchestra from a march of the lions to Vivaldi and a locally-composed percussion piece. The performance at St Columba’s Church in Lerwick was the first outing of the orchestra’s new timpani.

Forgotten Sons’ online success 
Isles rockers Forgotten Sons were making waves in the local music scene with their debut single Just So You Know getting plenty of hits on social media. The EP was self-recorded by drummer John Gair at his house, with a CD launch on the Hallowe’en weekend.

OCTOBER
Flit heads north
LAU man Martin Green brought together an array of musicians and songwriters for Flit – an intriguing marriage of music and animation, drawing on the theme of migration. Speaking ahead of the gig, he said some stories were taken from Shetland. “Shetland was an interesting one because a lot of conversations were with people that had moved from Scotland on the whole. The conversations I had about Shetland were about the huge number of people that went to Canada, which is kind of at the opposite end of it. I think what’s fascinating about Shetland is there’s people that have a very strong sense of place, which is an important part of it.”

Songwriting extravaganza
Singer-songwriters from across the isles were warming up their vocal chords for an extravaganza concert at Mareel. Eleven acts took to the stage for the concert, which was also recorded live, organised by the Shetland Singers Songwriters group.

NOVEMBER
Visitors unite 
Three-piece folk songbirds Visitors were busy recording new material in Mareel, having found common ground through their journey to Shetland. Andy Kinnear, Chris Grant and Cha Johnson formed the band through the monthly singer-songwriter nights at Mareel. Kinnear hails from Fife, with Grant from Glasgow and Johnson from the Philippines. Grant had decided to return to Glasgow but the band is hoping to perform again soon, and has decided to continue the musical project.

Trookers’ radio success

Punchy pop/rockers Trookers have hit the airwaves with their melodious Minute Steak. The group released the catchy tune which was picked up by Scottish music buff Jim Gellatly, as well as being played on local radio. Denis Blackham mastered the track, having worked with the likes of Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and The Unthanks.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

View other stories by »