Features / Line-up unveiled for 38th folk festival


SHETLAND Folk Festival has unveiled the provisional line-up for its 38th year, with the four-day event featuring musicians from North America, Scandinavia, Holland, Ireland and across the UK.

So far 12 acts have been confirmed to take to stages the length and breadth of the isles to demonstrate their musical prowess.

A festival committee spokeswoman said that “with a rousing menu already in place and more to be announced, Shetland Folk Festival 2018 promises to be yet another one not to be missed”.

Five acts from across the Atlantic will offer a diverse selection of styles.

Strings-only supergroup quartet The Fretless hail from Canada and are pushing the boundaries of their local traditional music with their own intricate and high-energy arrangement. Their trophy cabinet includes a 2017 Juno Award for instrumental album of the year. Playing fiddles, violas and a cello, there is not a fret between them.

Another supergroup quartet are The Cajun Country Revival, who are based in the US and include two members of much-loved Foghorn Stringband from the 2010 festival, as well as Cajun legends Jesse Lége and Joel Savoy.


Identical twin siblings The Brother Brothers are based in Brooklyn and lean towards the darker, moody elements of Appalachian folk and bluegrass traditions. They are fast developing a reputation stateside for captivating live performances and stunningly rich vocal harmonies.

From Manitoba in Canada comes William Prince, a Juno Award winning singer-songwriter from Peguis First Nation, who perf

orms his beautifully tender music with an amazingly rich baritone voice that will be bound to seduce audience members.

The final act from across the pond are James Hill and Anne Janelle, another award-winning act from Canada who play ukulele and cello, and whose intricate and enchanting sound has won a Canadian Folk Music award for best album of the year.

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Returning to the festival after a six-year gap are Baltic Crossing, whose individual members have also played at previous festivals with acts including KAN, Habadekuk, Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band and Tsuumi Sound System. With members from Denmark, Finland and England, their roots are firmly planted in Nordic and Celtic traditions and they deliver performances characterised by great vitality and drive with a good splash of humour.

Also from  mainland Europe is Dutchman Tim Kilphuis’s Trio, internationally renowned musicians who have been wowing audiences for over a decade. Alognside bandmates Roy Percy and Nigel Clark from the UK, organisers say they “Just know that their blend of gypsy jazz, classical and folk music – along with their incredible technical brilliance – is going to leave our audiences crying out for more”.

Scotland is represented with three award-winning acts. Siobhan Miller is the only person to ever win Scots singer of the year three times, and will bring her soulful renewal of traditional song north with her fantastic band,  having performed at the festival in 2012 alongside Jeana Leslie.


Self-described as “hypno-folkadelic ambient trad”, Scottish legends Shooglenifty will make a welcome return following previous visits in 1995 and 2009. Following the sad loss of much-love fiddler and frontman Angus Grant in 2016, they spent last year remembering, recording and regrouping, and are now back with a new fiddler and ready to create their usual fiery and infectious blend of Celtic traditional music and dance grooves.

Hailing from the Scottish Highlands and Islands are Hò-rò, who were named up and coming artist of the year at the BBC Scots Trad awards last year, and promise “unique, energetic tune arrangements and vibrant stage presence delivered with a dollop of Highland craic”.Calan from Wales brings together five remarkable young musicians who have created a “fresh and vibrant sound as they breathe new life into traditional Welsh music”. They promise Welsh step dancing, humour and colourful attire, as well as fast-paced tunes and beautiful, haunting songs.


And from Ireland come young quintet MOXIE, who have added progressive, world and jazz influences to the traditional Irish backbone of their sound and are becoming a festival favourites with their highly-charged live performances across several continents.

In addition there will be “a fantastic array of homegrown talent that the committee is forever proud to present at the festival” – 40 in all – providing a platform to demonstrate why the isles are world renowned for their musical talents.

Among them this year are Haltadans, whose stylish and entertaining performances give a new lease of life to long-forgotten tunes. About to head to Celtic Connections, and hot off the back of their first album launch, are talented youngsters Fjanna, aged 14-16, who will perform traditional Shetland and Scottish tunes as well as their own compositions – demonstrating the skills that saw them win Shetland’s Got Talent in 2016.


Also performing down in Glasgow are Vair, who crammed the room for their album launch at last year’s festival, and cite traditional Shetland, Scottish and Irish folk and American bluegrass among their influences. Delivering Americana with their own contemporary sound and tight-knit harmonies are Kansa, who have individually grown up enjoying the musical flavours of blues, jazz, funk and bluegrass.

  • Further announcements about the full line-up will follow in the coming weeks. Early memberships will be on sale at www.shetlandfolkfestival.com from 1-28 February – enabling members to book concert tickets online for a fortnight before they go on sale to the general public from 19 March, with general sale starting on 2 April.

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