SNP - Tom Wills

Folk festival line-up announced

NORTHERN Europe and America dominate this year’s Shetland Folk Festival, which has announced its line up of visiting artists for the 31st outing of this award winning event over four days at the end of April.

Having scooped the ‘Event of the Year’ gong at last year’s MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, the festival organisers are boasting 14 visiting bands from “at least” nine different countries at this year’s shindig.

From across the Atlantic come old time country “hillbilly hurricane” The Wilders, from Kansas City, Missouri; rag time blues maestros Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three; attractive young Louisiana Cajun fiddle fusion family band L’Angelus; and from Canada the acclaimed Quebecois three piece Genticorum who weave fiddle, flute, voice, guitar and bass into “a jubilant musical feast”.

Scotland provides three big names in folk and roots music with Gaelic piping genius Fred Morrison and his trio; the highly popular Breabach who also bring pipes and step dance to their big sound; and the up and coming Newcastle-based all female six piece The Shee, who combine folk, Scots, Gaelic and bluegrass music.

The Shee, who include some English members, met at Newcastle University’s folk and traditional music degree course, whose principal guitar tutor Chris Newman waves the flag for England with his “astonishing variety of styles and techniques from blues influences, jigs and reel, bluegrass and jazz”.

Ireland this year is represented by the hotly tipped Oonagh Derby Band, a highly rated singer whose band features Ireland’s greatest banjo player Gerry O’Connor and “god of the bodhran” Gino Lupari, who will team up as a duo during the festival bringing back memories of their days with Four Men and a Dog.

From Poland comes the unique sound of high energy folk dance band Beltaine, with more supercharged dance music being provided by Norwegian/Swedish quintet Sver who are heavily influenced by Scandinavia’s traditional mountain music.

Fellow Norwegians Knerten & Co have been invited as the Festival Club’s leading session band, thanks to their reputation for delivering traditional Norwegian folk music with humour and energy.

The final international name is Harald Haugaard, billed as “one of the world’s best folk fiddlers”, who brings his quartet featuring his wife Helene Blum, whose singing has impressed audiences all over the world.

The visiting musicians will be shown how to enjoy a Shetland spree by island stars such as Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag and Bryan Gear & Violet Tulloch.

The festival runs from 28 April to 1 May and advance festival membership goes on sale on 21 January until 25 February. Members will be able to buy tickets from 12 March, while everyone else must wait until 1 April.

More information about the event and this year’s acts is available at www.shetlandfolkfestival.com

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