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International line up for 2012 folk festival

London based Kasai Masai will bring the sound of the most remote equatorial African villages to Shetland.

THE ORGANISERS of the award winning Shetland Folk Festival have just launched the provisional visiting artiste line up for the 32nd four-day ‘spree’ to be held between 3 and 6 May.

Announcing 14 eclectic bands that represent at least 10 different nationalities, this year’s line up is looking to be as internationally diverse as its predecessors.

Four incredible acts are crossing the Atlantic to put in an appearance, including two from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.  Favourites J.P Cormier & The Elliot Brothers are set to wow audiences with their cornucopia of hot club talent and fancy finger work as they showcase their dazzling Bluegrass, Folk and Celtic compositions.

Also lingering somewhere amidst the rich, soulful roots of traditional Cape Breton music and the grooves of a thousand branches of rock and funk, come Sprag Session, a five piece act featuring award winning fiddler Colin Grant. 

From further to the south travel Richmond based The Hot Seats who are a ‘bubbling fountain of virtuosic insanity’ as they move seamlessly between bluegrass, ragtime, old-time, jug band and Klezmer injecting humour and sharp-witted commentary along the way.  

Alison Brown making her fourth festival appearance.

Also from the United States but making her fourth Festival appearance is the internationally renowned banjo virtuoso Alison Brown, who in 1991 picked up bluegrass music’s highest accolade for an instrumentalist of International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year.

Scotland is also well represented with four particularly energetic bands on the line-up.  For one night only, the 12-piece Treacherous Orchestra will take to the stage, whose sophisticated and explosive musical arrangements have earned them a fearsome reputation as an incendiary live act. 

Also booked after their first full on debut year in 2011 is the 6-piece outfit Mànran.   They have quite literally rocketed to the top of the Scottish music scene with their powerful folk-rock and first-class technical prowess combining Gaelic and English songs with funk and reggae grooves. 

Also relatively new as a touring act and from diametrically opposed ends of the UK are the fiddle and guitar duo sensation, Ross Couper and Tom Oakes.  Now based on mainland Scotland, they originally hail from Shetland and Devon and together have struck up a musical harmony while retaining their fiercely distinctive styles. 

Completing the Scottish contingent is Lori Watson and Rule of Three.  A beautiful singer and fiddler, Lori’s musical roots lie firmly in the Borders of Scotland while her interpretation of Scots and worldwide traditions are undeniably resonant.

Continuing with a Scottish link, the festival is excited to invite KAN – an act featuring the front men of two of the most revered bands ever to have thrilled the UK folk scene.  With Brian Finnegan of Flook and Aidan O’Rourke from Lau joining forces with England based Ian Stephenson on guitar and Jim Goodwin on percussion, this four piece create an enthralling and exciting new band that are already creating a supersonic buzz in the folk scene. 

Australian Blues singer/songwriter Rory Ellis.

BBC Young Folk Award winning multi-instrumentalist Ian Stephenson will also appear at the festival with Baltic Crossing, a band consisting of five award winning musicians from Finland, Denmark and the UK, bringing us fiery Scandinavian tunes, bubbling Northumbrian pipes and a driving guitar and double bass rhythm section.

Two brilliant Scandinavian musicians, Perry Stenbäck and Steffan Sørensen, will accompany the Australian Alt Country/Blues singer songwriter, Rory Ellis for his second visit to the festival.  Centered around Rory’s distinctive deep, lusty and rumbling voice, this newly formed trio is the direct outcome of performing and partying together at the 28th Shetland Folk Festival – a further demonstration of how Shetland’s special annual event is responsible for forging many new musical (and occasionally more intimate) partnerships!

Bringing a truly international feel and the traditional sound of the most remote equatorial African villages are London based Kasaï Masaï, whose sound is rooted in the healing power of the driving percussion and singing combined with the majestic Congolese guitar and jazz saxophone. Written in Swahili, Lingala and Kimongo, their lyrics reflect the cultural diversity of a region where more than four hundred languages are still spoken.

Belgium trio KV Express.

Completing the provisional visiting artiste lineup and bringing a further international dimension to the 32nd festival is KV Express – a trio centered on the band’s founder Sophie Cavez, who is one of Belgium’s most prolific accordion players.  Together they create a fresh sound combining folk, jazz and rock with world styles from the southern parts of the European and American continents.

As in previous years, most visiting musicians will be in Shetland for the festival’s duration playing at different venues throughout the isles alongside fantastic local acts.  There will be dedicated events for our younger audience members, featuring acts such as multi award winning Scottish children entertainers, Allansmagic, who the organisers are bringing up specifically from Aberdeen. 

The festival will conclude with the famous “Festival Foy” events on Sunday the 6th where most visiting musicians will play three separate 15-minute slots in three different venues! 

Foy tickets continue to be the fastest selling ticket of the weekend, with virtually all being consumed by advance members in 2011.

Advance festival membership will go on sale on 27 January until the 2 March, with membership forms/info available on the Festival’s website.

For more information, including all the visiting acts’ biographies with sound samples please visit:

The Shetland Folk Festival is organised by volunteers of the Shetland Folk Festival Society. It is supported annually by the Shetland Charitable Trust and won the Event of the Year award at the 2010 MG Scots Trad Music Awards.  In 2012, the festival is also receiving investment from Creative Scotland.