Molsky and Owens return

Dean Owens and the Whisky Hearts. Photo: David Grant Simpson

ACCLAIMED old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky is returning to Shetland for three shows involving a collaboration with local musicians in May, while Edinburgh singer-songwriter Dean Owens is also back in the islands next month.

Molsky will perform at Baltasound Hall (15 May), Muckle Roe Hall (16 May) and Mareel (17 May). A number of local players will be brought in to help explore the common threads in North American and Shetland musical traditions. 

He is internationally recognised as one of the world’s most influential old-time fiddle players, a virtuoso of North America – and in particular Appalachia – folk music traditions.

In addition to a prolific solo career on fiddle, guitar, banjo and vocals, Molsky frequently joins genre-busting groups such as the Grammy-nominated Fiddlers Four, Mozaik and Ireland’s Donal Lunny.

He featured on Nickel Creek’s farewell tour, and performs in a trio with Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and Sweden’s Ale Molle – along with being a regular contributor to the hugely successful Transatlantic Sessions concerts and television programmes.

“I’m so looking forward to this latest visit,” Molsky says. “The common elements between our two musical heritages and traditions are there for all to see and this factor has attracted me for some time, so I think it will be a very exciting and rewarding visit and I’m especially looking forward to working with and alongside your great Shetland musicians.

Acclaimed fiddler Bruce Molsky. Photo: Davie Gardner

The gigs are being presented by Shetland Arts in conjunction with Atlantic Edge Music Services.Who knows where the music will take us – but I’m certain it will be a very exciting journey for all concerned.”

Davie Gardner of Atlantic Edge says: “I’m delighted that Bruce is set to come back to Shetland again as part of his UK tour.

“His previous visits here proved to be hugely successful – not only because of his own terrific and diverse musical talents and warm, engaging personality, but also due to the wonderful musical collaborations those visits created in conjunction with our own local musicians, exploring the commonality between his roots and traditions and our own.

“His primary reason for returning again is to continue that musical association with Shetland. I very much look forward to what will happen in that respect this time around.”

Tickets for all three gigs will go on sale via Shetland Box Office in the coming week.

Meanwhile Owens will be back in Shetland next month for gigs at Mareel and Muckle Roe.

His association with the islands began when he and his then band The Felsons went down a storm at Shetland Folk Festival – earning he and the band a loyal and enduring following.

Owens has returned on numerous occasions since, mostly as a solo artist, performing a sellout show in Mareel supporting his Johnny Cash-inspired album ‘Cash Back – Songs I learned from Johnny’.

Now he returns to help launch his new album ‘Into the Sea’, recently recorded in Nashville, produced by Neilson Hubbard and featuring musical luminaries including award-winning guitarist Will Kimbrough and Stateside vocalists Kim Richey and Suzy Bogguss. Due for release on 27 April, advance copies will be for sale at the Shetland shows.

On Friday 10 April he will perform a special solo show at Muckle Roe Hall accompanied by Arthur Nicholson.

The following night at Mareel – supported by the Sheila Henderson Band – he will be joined by the Whisky Hearts Band, an “incendiary” live group featuring long-time collaborator and Felsons band mate Calais Brown on guitar and backing vocals, Jim McDermott (ex-Simple Minds) on drums, Amy Geddes on fiddle, Sean Pugh on keyboard and the late Jack Bruce’s nephew Nico Bruce on bass – a line-up that “threatens to shake the rafters of Mareel”.

Shetland Arts music development officer Bryan Peterson said: “It’s splendid to be welcoming Dean back. His last visit to Shetland proved to be extremely popular, and I’m really looking forward to hearing his new material with the Whisky Hearts Band. With such a cracking line-up of musicians it’s sure to be a memorable night.”