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Folk festival offers ‘something for everyone’

THE 38th Shetland Folk Festival kicked off in style with its traditionally busy launch concert on Thursday afternoon.

A total of 16 visiting acts and a slew of local musicians will take to the isles’ various stages over the coming days.

They include the likes of award-winning Canadian act The Fretless and acclaimed Scottish vocalist Siobhan Miller.

As always, the Islesburgh Community Centre was packed out on Thursday as the visiting acts performed one song each as a taster for what’s to come.

Local actor Steven Robertson, who has risen to fame in recent years on BBC crime drama Shetland, introduced the event and he said being asked to open the festival was both “surreal and very lovely – it felt like coming home”.

“They’ve asked me a few times in the past and it’s never worked out,” Robertson said.

“I’ve always been amazed that they would ask me. But because this festival has been such an important part of my life since I was a small child, it means a lot to come and open it and I know what a splendid weekend everybody is going to have.

“It’s a good opportunity to tap into that feeling, that connection again. I’m very honoured and quite touched.”

Celtic fusion band Shooglenifty kicked off the opening show and the other acts followed suit.

The Fretless violinist Trent Freeman said playing the folk festival was a “bucket list” achievement.

He added that he had heard good things about Shetland from fellow musicians who have played the festival before.

“Every single one of them has a story about Shetland, has like a warning about Shetland, has some advice about Shetland and like the biggest rave reviews of the folk festival and the people and the place.”

Committee member Louise Johnson said there will be “something for everyone” over the weekend.

“This weekend we’ve got lots of concerts, we’ve got live music here in the club, we’ll have sessions all over the place, there’s community events, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl is in port so there will be two concerts on board that, and workshops,” she said.

“There’s lots and lots happening and we like to think there’s something for everyone.”

On Thursday night there will be concerts in Whiteness, Gulberwick, Voe and Lerwick.

Most of the folk festival gigs over the coming days are sold out, however, with only a select few still with tickets available.

The weekend will formally culminate in its series of foy shows on Sunday night as the visiting acts tour venues around Lerwick to perform short sets.

Shetland News will have coverage of some of the festival’s gigs over the coming days.