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Reviews / 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.

Gardner employed an extensive supporting cast of local musicians to help him out, including Brian Nicholson, ‘Big’ Robbie Cumming and Sheila Henderson.

Local guitarist and vocalist Arthur Nicholson was among those who performed with Owens and he hopes it’s not the last time the musicians share a stage together.

“Hank Williams is a huge influence on popular music, especially country, so it’s great to be involved in this tribute. He was a rock star before rock n’ roll,” he said.

“I’ve worked with Dean before but never with a band. It’s been a lot of fun getting to play in the house band with Dad [Brian], Jack [Robertson], Girsie [Norman Goudie] and Bryan [Gear]. I hope we get to do it again!”

Kansa, meanwhile, were one of few groups on the bill, with mandolin player Adrian Wishart saying the bluegrass tinged folk collective were “thrilled” to play.

“We had a fun choosing amongst the Hank songs to try – there are so many, of course,” he said.

“We tried to pick songs that allowed us to bring a slightly different approach to that iconic 1950s country sound that Hank and the Drifting Cowboys had.

“What has been exciting was hearing how the ensemble of musicians performed a rich evening of country music in this style.

“After all, it’s music from another continent, but seems to have become a part of Shetland’s musical culture over the decades.” 

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