Fifteen of the travelling acts performing at this year’s Shetland Folk Festival have been announced by the festival’s committee.
Bands from Canada, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Estonia and the USA are feature on the eclectic line-up, which also includes talent from closer to home.
Three of the four North American bands journeying across the Atlantic this spring will be making their UK debut at the festival.
Boston-based bluegrass act The Lonely Heartstring Band are one of those American acts who will be performing at the four-day feast of music and sleepless nights. This band have experienced a meteoric rise on the circuit of late, winning an IBMA Momentum Award in 2015 and recently signing to Rounder Records.
Also bringing a little bluegrass alongside some old-time Americana and Swedish traditional sounds are The Goodbye Girls, whose members hail from Canada and Sweden as well as the USA. They will utilise their range of backgrounds and individual virtuosity to create a unique sound, full of energy.
Rooted in old-time Americana and country traditions are The Lowest Pair, an exciting banjo picking duo with sweet harmonies from Washington State, USA.
Completing the North American element of the line-up are young acoustic power trio Ten Strings and a Goat Skin from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who play guitar, fiddle and bodhran. With a plethora of music awards under their belt including an ECMA Award for World Music in 2015, this act are acclaimed for their fiery and infectious sound.
Representing mainland Europe in the line-up are three diverse acts from Estonia, Belgium and Italy.
Delivering something a little different this year with their own take on Estonian folk sounds are Trad Attack who have been described as a “21st century Nordic turbo folk band.” Performing in the UK for the first time, their punchy and rousing shows will be performed with a more acoustic feel in the festival’s smaller concert venues.
Trio Dhoore are three brothers from the Flanders region of Belgium who will blend traditional Flemish folk music with their own style to create an energetic sound. Their technical excellence and rare musicality has been applauded in many rave reviews.
Representing Italy are Veronica and the Red Wine Seranaders, who touch on a number of American influences as country, blues, ragtime and hokum. Their blues sounds of 20s and 30s America earned them the title of European Blues Challenge winners in 2013.
Also providing something a little different for 2017 is The Michelle Burke Band. Michelle is a highly acclaimed vocalist and former lead singer of Irish-American trad legends ‘Cherish the Ladies’.
She hails from rural Cork in Ireland although now resides in Scotland alongside the rest of the band – repeat visitor Anna Massie on guitar, mandolin and banjo, James Ross on piano and John Kenny on trombone. Michelle and her band will be dishing up a fine selection of songs from her album and show Step Into My Parlour, which has been described as “Irish stew for the soul.”
Completing our Irish contingent is the Sligo based New Road, who will be joined by the Canadian claw hammer banjo virtuoso Leonard Podolak (The Dukhs) for their their trip to Shetland. Their set will include an exciting mix of Irish traditional, Appalachian old-time, blues and beyond.
Mainland Scotland is well represented in the festival’s line-up with three varied and exciting acts.
Ímar is an exciting new quintet whose members have all performed at previous festivals as part of different musical outfits including Mànran, RURA, Talisk and Jamie Smith’s Mabon. Their collective trophy cabinet is crammed full of prestigious awards and their combination of Scottish, Irish and Manx influences promises to bring some exciting and unique sounds.
From Glasgow, The John Langan Band will bring some balkanesque madness to the festival along with some Roma and flamenco elements fueled by a visceral punk spirit. Acoustic magazine said of their performance “it’s hard to resist leaping up and dancing”.
New Scottish traditional quintet The Scott Wood Band is fronted by one of the world’s leading young bagpipers, and features five young musicians who have all graduated in Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Appearing for one night only during the weekend are rising stars Mec Lir who will be performing their infectious brand of Celtic ‘trad pop’. Two members of the Manx/Scottish quartet will already be attending the festival as members of Ìmar, and the remaining two will fly in specially to perform as part of Clickimin’s Friday night standing gig.
Marking a quarter-century since their debut festival appearance are local favourites Fiddlers’ Bid. Internationally respected as leading exponents of Shetland’s fiddle tradition, this musical tornado will take to the festival stage once more to demonstrate their stunning musical virtuosity and harmonic imagination.
Also celebrating a festival anniversary are Orcadian super-group The Chair, who first performed in Shetland 10 years ago under their former moniker ‘Lazy Boy Chair’. This 8-piece riot of fiddles, banjos, guitar, accordion and drums will be sure to get the party started once again.
There is at least one further travelling act still to be announced.
Early memberships will be on sale at www.shetlandfolkfestival.com throughout February. General sale tickets will be on sale in early April.