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Sublime stuff from The Unthanks at Mareel

BBC Folk Award winners The Unthanks juxtaposed beautiful melodies and gritty subject matter to enchanting effect. Photo: Kelly Nicolson RiddellTHE UNTHANK sisters and their backing band delivered an enchanting evening of top drawer, adventurous folk music before a bustling Mareel auditorium on Thursday.

A 250-plus turnout – at the start of a weekend when a fair few folkies are off to the Orkney festival – certainly goes some way to dispelling any notion that there’s no audience for English folk music in these parts.

There might be a heavenly, ethereal feel to their vocal performance, but the down-to-earth patois of the Gateshead siblings and their band saw the crowd immediately warm to the quintet.

An excellent evening of classical music

Violinist Cheryl Crockett and cellist Alison Lawrance during rehearsals on Thursday afternoon - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsThe Scottish Ensemble graced Mareel's stage once again for the third part of their Shetland Series - Duos for Violin and Cello - on Thursday night, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

The previous show Quintets was comprised entirely of three long compositions.

Duos for Violin and Cello was a musical anthology of shorter pieces that worked very well.

Shetland’s tribute to Hank Williams

Singer-songwriter Dean Owens and an extensive cast of local musicians paying tribute to country icon Hank Williams.SCOTTISH singer-songwriter Dean Owens and local music promoter Davie Gardner paid tribute to country icon Hank Williams alongside a slew of Shetland stars this weekend.

Following a concept developed by Gardner and put into action by Owens, the 'Settin' the Woods on Fire: The Songs of Hank Williams' show hit the stage at the Mid Yell Hall on Friday before playing at Mareel on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Hey BBC, more Shetland please…and soon

 Three deaths, another rape, extortion and money laundering. That’s a lot for any detective to deal with. Anna Chancellor as senior procurator fiscal Phyllis Brennan, Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez and Julie Graham as Shetland procurator fiscal Rhona Kelly - Photo: Mark Mainz/ITV StudiosHAVING left audiences waiting two weeks for the grand finale of BBC TV series Shetland, it was a case of bringing it all back home for the big reveal, writes Jordan Ogg.

A slimy lawyer in service to a brutal Glasgow big man. A dodgy senior cop who might be covering for her rapist son. Three deaths, another rape, extortion and money laundering.

Scottish Ensemble: Carnegie Hall next

Scottish Ensemble - the kind of talent that normally skips over places like Shetland - Photo: Chris BrownThe Scottish Ensemble returned to the Mareel Auditorium on Friday night to bring us the second of their three shows in the 2015/16 Shetland Season, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

Extraordinary tales from high in the Alps

Jeff Merrifield contributing to the Institute of the Mythology of Humankind.The Might of the Myth, the new book released this week by veteran music promoter Jeff Merrifield, is by his own admission a 73-years-in-the-making magnum opus. Better known in Shetland for his JAWS work than for his fortean writing, Alex Garrick-Wright went along to the launch on Wednesday night to gain a little insight into the book.

The Might of the Myth is the culmination of decades of interest and experience, a journey first started by Merrifield and his friend Ken Campbell, the late actor and theatrical experimentalist, in the mid-1990s.

Review: Happy end at the Town Hall

Saturday Night at the Movies with Veev - Photo: Iain TullochMUSIC has been an integral part of films since the silent era, when some poor soul would be employed to tickle the ivories as Buster Keaton performed Health-and-Safety defying stunts and Lon Chaney frightened people out of the theatre. Once it became possible to include sound in the films themselves, music became one of the most important aspects of the silver screen experience.

A night of great craic with songwriting trio

Johnny Lynch (aka Pictish Trail), James Yorkston and Dan Willson (aka Withered Hand) offered much jocularity at Mareel on Wednesday night. WHEN Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail, sang “Playing to literally tens of people… just to cover my travel home”, it raised a fair old chuckle among the few dozen folk in the Mareel auditorium.

The line belongs to ‘Believe Me, I Know’, one of several superb pop songs Lynch sang in the course of a cockle-warming set as part of a loose, informal songwriter’s semi-circle.

American comic draws buckets of laughter

Rich Hall, right, joined by guitarist Rob Childs at Mareel on Tuesday night. Photo: Davie GardnerSEASONED US comedian Rich Hall sent the masses home happy after delivering a two-hour country-comedy cocktail blending together observation, anecdote and musical song on Tuesday night.

The Mareel auditorium was packed for the 61-year-old’s maiden visit having sold out long before the festive period.

Reviews: Shetland's new favourite band

The Lone Bellow - a triumphant cocktail of unashamed melody, succulent harmonies and driving rhythms."Thank you Shelby Islands,” rallied The Lone Bellow's lead singer Zach Williams at the finale of their gig at Lerwick's Mareel on Thursday.

The sold-out audience looked perplexed, faces gurned inwards; Shelby - where'd he get that from?

Review: ‘Shetland’ picks up its pace at last

‘Shetland’ may just be fitting into an identity of its own: fellow cops Tosh (Alison O’Donnell) and Shetland-born Steven Robertson who plays Sandy - Photo: BBCThe murder-mystery series based on the novels by Anne Cleeves is back for a third outing. Episode one suggests a darker, faster and altogether more thrilling ride than its predecessors, writes Jordan Ogg.

We last saw Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez atop a cliff on Fair Isle.

Christmas comes early to the Click

The sounds of Christ and Christmas at the Clickimin, courtesy of Ernie Haase (far left) and his Signature Sound sidekicks (from left) Devin McGlamery, Dustin Doyle and Paul Harkey. Photo Malcolm Younger/Millgaet MediaThe calendar may have only just broken into December, but there was tangible Christmas spirit swirling inside Lerwick's busy Clickimin Leisure Complex on Tuesday night, as Chris Cope discovered.

There were no trees, baubles or fairy lights - the festivities were on stage thanks to the bellowing vocal cords of Ernie Haase + Signature Sound.

Hirda: a warm and delightful ode to Shetland

A scene from Thursday night's performance of Hirda: Mezzosoprano Laura Smith (as Vaila) with Marie Breen (as the Ghost) - Photo: Davie GardnerTHERE exists in this world an opera, set in Shetland and sung entirely in local dialect; its name is Hirda and it is wonderful, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

There is no way to do justice to something as unusual and enjoyable as Hirda in so short a space; the amount that could be written dwarfs the amount allowed, so consider this very much a glowing review-in-brief.

A cornucopia of island cuisine at Clickimin

MC Davie Gardner watches nervously as celebrity chef tests the heat locally-grown chillies have given his spicy dahl. Photo Elizabeth Atia THE SHETLAND Food Fair 2015 kicked off in style on Friday night with a fantastic food-filled event in the main hall of the Clickimin Leisure Centre, Lerwick. Food blogger Elizabeth Atia attended to sample the wares.

The launch of this annual celebration of all things wonderful about Shetland's food and drink scene began with an inspiring speech by Elaine Jamieson of the Highlands and Islands food sector and a talk by Peter Hutchison, customer services representative of NorthLink Ferries, who, alongside Shetland Transport, are sponsoring this weekend long event.

Stalls showcasing the finest food and drinks available in Shetland have been located around the perimeter of the hall with a cookery stage run by Promote Shetland at the front.

Ryder in good spirits and rude health

A swaggering Shaun Ryder on stage at Mareel on Saturday night. Photo: Dale SmithSHAUN Ryder finally made it to Shetland on Saturday and he put on a great show with his band Black Grape at Mareel, writes Kennedy Stewart.

Having had to cancel two scheduled Lerwick performances previously, Ryder arrived in good spirits and rude health this time around.

An essential addition to every Shetland bookshelf

AT LAST, Linda Riddell's very accessible PhD Shetland and the Great War has been turned into a book, writes Jon Sandison.

Its narrative sublimely intertwines the local story of war against that of the national and global context, with poignant inter-linked photographs. Two overarching themes of Linda's book are geography and community. These continual threads run through each chapter.

Her analysis and narrative, in tandem with primary research and sources, is meticulously referenced and centres on the impact of war on Shetland, its people and its environment, and how our community responded to it.

Spider-fingered guitarists provide whirlwind

The four guitarists whip up a frenzy in Mareel. (l-r) Brian Gore, Andre Krengel, Mike Dawes and Lulo Reinhardt. Photo: Chris BrownA CANTANKEROUS Shetland gale was whipping around Mareel on Tuesday night - but there was a whirlwind of an entirely different kind through its doors in the auditorium.

Those safely seated away from the elements were treated to a typhoon of acoustic guitar virtuosity, with notes ricocheting around the room and jaws periodically dropping to the floor.

Review: An appetite-whetting musical treat

Clio Gould and Jonathan Morton blasting into the first of three Martinů madrigals - Photo: Chris Brown For all the gigs the go on in Shetland, classical music seems to be under-represented; jazz, world sounds, rock, country, definitely folk are the staples of Shetland's musical diet.

Shetland Arts appears to be turning this around by inviting Shetland to gorge itself on the classical offerings of the Scottish Ensemble, with a programme consisting of four gigs; a duo in September, a quintet in February, another duo in April, and the full 12-piece string orchestra in summertime.

Musicians carry on into small hours at Cullivoe

Rob Heron & the Teapad Orchestra, pictured on stage at Carnegie Hall, were on stirring form this weekend. Photo: Chris Brown2013 FOLK festival favourites Rob Heron and the Teapad Orchestra and up-and-coming harmony duo Lewis and Leigh played a brace of show in Shetland this weekend. The night after a sellout show at Carnegie Hall in Sandwick, Daniel Lawson was among a 90-strong crowd enjoying the “enthralling” line-up in his home village of Cullivoe on Saturday night.

Review: Learn more about Shetland’s birds

SHETLAND is internationally famous for its bird life and draws visitors from all corners of the globe to enjoy it. Those of us who live here are privileged to witness it each and every day.

Over 450 species have been recorded here in Shetland since ornithological records began and Paul Harvey and Rebecca Nason's new book Discover Shetland's Birds: A Photographic Guide to Shetland's Breeding, Wintering and Migrant Birds (published by Shetland Heritage Publications - the publishing arm of the Shetland Amenity Trust) concentrates on around 180 species that are most likely to be encountered throughout the four seasons. Primarily intended as an aid to finding and identifying these birds, it offers a lot more.

Screenplay: a celebration of Home Made creativity

Friday night saw a sell-out event for Screenplay as the hugely popular Home Made hit the screen. Film lovers of all ages crowded into Screen 1, eager to see what local film makers had been up to all year, writes Genevieve White.

The first Home Made event of the festival was 4 Minute Wonders. This year, film makers had been given free reign with subject and genre. The only stipulation was that films had to be no longer than four minutes. This remit made for a pleasantly fast moving and varied programme in which the audience enjoyed music videos, action films, comedies, a monster movie parody and some rather disturbing found footage of the last moments in the life of a US forestry worker.

Screenplay: ‘Of course we are all alive inside'

The documentary Alive Inside follows social worker Dan Cohen as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. MUSIC. What does it mean to me? What does it mean to you? Which songs find a path into your heart and make you come alive? Your answer will be completely different to mine, opposite ends of the soundscape perhaps.

We all have our own unique relationship with music. It is inside all of us - music stimulates us, it connects us with ourselves and with our memories.

Screenplay: Gatiss leaves fans with spring in step

Mark Gatiss, of League of Gentlemen/Sherlock/Doctor Who fame, during Friday night's Q&A at Mareel. Photo: Dale SmithIF THE name ‘Mark Gatiss’ doesn’t ring a bell, then something from his repertoire certainly should, writes Alex Garrick-Wright. A prominent writer and actor, he is most likely to be recognised for ‘The League of Gentlemen’, ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Sherlock’, as well as a brilliant 3-part documentary series on the ‘History of Horror’.

Something from that incomprehensive list should surely be familiar; if nothing is then you’ve got some urgent catching up to do. Start with those, right now if necessary.